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Before the last year or so, Jill Pavlak had no issues with trucks parking on the streets near her St. Paul taproom and restaurant. Urban Growler's "co-head honcho" knew many of the drivers by name, she said, and could ask them to move when customers needed nearby space.

"It was easy-peasy," she said.

No more. Lines of idle big rigs now take up so much space around Urban Growler that patrons often have to walk blocks to her door, Pavlak said — not to mention the dangers of trucks and trailers limiting visibility at driveways and intersections.

"In the last year, we have been calling parking enforcement almost daily," she said, noting truck drivers can easily ignore the city's $40 fine for parking in restricted areas. "The city has signs all around, but nothing would ever happen."

Trucks are prohibited only in St. Paul's residential areas. But under a proposed amendment to city parking rules, those weighing more than 26,000 pounds would be banned from parking on any city street. The City Council held a public hearing Wednesday on the proposed ordinance and is set to vote on the change next week.

Sean Kershaw, St. Paul's public works director, told the council Wednesday that St. Paul officials want to do what Minneapolis did in 2021: implement a parking ban to improve safety. City streets simply weren't designed to have trucks taking up curb space, he said.

"There are more trucks parking in the city than ever before, and more complaints than before, too," Kershaw said. "It's hard to see intersections, other traffic, pedestrians."

But for truckers, who are already dealing with a shortage of space to park when they are not actively loading or unloading cargo, a citywide ban would make their jobs more difficult and expensive, said John Hauslauden, president of the Minnesota Trucking Association. Efforts to enlist state financial help to increase truck parking sites haven't gained traction, he said.

"When cities say, 'Just figure it out,' they make the problem worse," Hauslauden said, adding that trucking is a pathway for many immigrants to become small business owners. "They don't need more barriers, they need less."

Minneapolis not only banned truck parking on city streets two years ago, it also increased fines. Last year, the fine was $100 and the city issued 2,530 citations. This year, the fine rose to $150, and 169 citations were issued through Feb. 24, according to spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie. Next year, the fine will rise to $250.

In 2022, the city towed 139 trucks for violating parking rules, she said. So far this year, 38 have been towed.

The Minneapolis ban has resulted in more trucks parking in parts of St. Paul close to the border between the two cities — such as the area around Urban Growler.

Muhuyadin Farah, an independent truck driver who lives in Minneapolis, confirmed that some drivers have taken to parking in St. Paul. Still others risk getting a ticket in Minneapolis by parking for a day or two.

They have little choice, he said. The parking supply is getting smaller, threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of drivers who are now forced to park as much as 20 miles away. That takes away time when they could be driving and earning money, he said.

"We are hoping St. Paul doesn't do this," Farah said. "There are so many families that depend on this income."

After the public hearing Wednesday, some council members said they hope the city can help find — or develop — more places for truckers to legally park.

If the council approves the ban May 24, it would go into effect 30 days later but fine increases — the same as in Minneapolis — wouldn't start until January, Kershaw said. That gives officials six months to work with drivers to find alternatives, he said.

Council Member Jane Prince said she's meeting with staff members in the city's Planning and Economic Development department to try to help find "potential solutions" for what amounts to hundreds of small businesses.

"We do have six months to really put our thinking caps on and get together with different branches of government to figure out what to do here," Prince said.