The initial inspections for new rental properties are usually scheduled when applying for a new Rental Housing Certificate. Biennial inspections may be scheduled upon payment of fees, and in advance of your Certificate's expiration date, either over the phone at 507-328-2600 or in person at our office.
Please note that only the owner or manager of record may escort the Housing Inspector through the rental property.
We have an online system to do this, please follow the instructions here.
- To obtain a rental housing certificate an application must be submitted to Building Safety. The Community Development Department must review the application for zoning requirements. An on-site inspection is scheduled with a Building Safety Inspector to verify compliance with the Housing Code. If deficiencies are found, the violations must be corrected. When the corrections are completed, a re-inspection is conducted to verify compliance. Once these steps are completed and the Landlord requirements are met, a certificate is issued for the property.
- Once your rental is registered with the city, you will receive notification of renewal fees due and a request for an inspection approximately 90 days before your certificate expires. You must call the Building Safety Department to schedule an inspection before the expiration date, allowing enough time to complete any corrections and re-inspections before the rental housing certificate expires. When the renewal fee has been paid and the inspection approved, the rental housing certificate can be issued.
In R.C.O. Chapter 7-5-1, the Code establishes a requirement for anyone renting a dwelling to another person to obtain a license known as a “rental housing certificate”. A dwelling is considered rental when someone other than the owner, or their relatives, occupies the dwelling whether money is exchanged or not. This includes single family homes when the owner does not occupy the home, but does not include hotels, motels, rooming houses, nursing homes, and hospitals which are licensed by other agencies. Renting without a certificate is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $1000 fine, 90 days in jail, or both.
An inspection is completed every two years to check for compliance with the Housing Code. The certificate issued verifies the dwelling is in compliance with the Housing Code and all other applicable codes and is valid for two years. The certificate must be renewed every two years, with the renewal fee based on the number of units to be rented. Rental certificates must be transferred within 30 days after a property is sold.
The Housing Code is made up ordinances adopted by the City Council - Chapter 7 in the Rochester Code of Ordinances (R.C.O.). The Housing Code ordinances were first adopted by the City Council in 1967 because they concluded it was in the best interest of the citizens of Rochester to adopt a code that addresses structures used for dwelling purposes. The Housing Code pertains to all dwellings within the city; including owner occupied. The Code addresses dwellings in the areas of structural integrity, fire safety, overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and site conditions. Every dwelling unit must comply with the minimum standards and maintenance standards set forth in the code. The Housing Code is administered and enforced by the Building Safety Department.
Below are direct links to the Housing Code in the Rochester Code of Ordinances:
- The Rochester Multi-Housing Association is the trade association for Rochester, Minnesota's apartment and rental housing industry. The members are developers, owners, and managers of apartments or other rental housing. The association is for owners and managers of rental units in and around the Rochester area.
- The Rochester Apartment Finder website is a search engine to find an apartment based on your needs. Learn all about Rochester and what it has to offer. This site also has relocation resources.
Complaints about the condition of real property in the City of Rochester should be directed to the Building Safety Department at 507-328-2600.
If you have questions about anything associated with your case, you may contact the Victim Witness Liaison at the Rochester City Attorney's Office at 507-328-2180.
Please contact Olmsted County Property, Records, & Licensing for questions relating to driver's license renewals, marriage certificate, death certificate, or information on obtaining a passport at 507-328-7670 or http://www.co.olmsted.mn.us/prl/Pages/default.aspx.
To obtain a residential parking permit, please contact the City Clerk's office at 507-328-2900.
Prior to conviction, a county jail or detention facility must notify a victim of a violent crime of the offender's release. All victims, regardless of the crime, are strongly encouraged to register with VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) program to request automatic release notification. Following conviction, victims of inmates in a county facility must make a request for release notification to that facility and can also register with VINE. Victims of inmates in a Department of Corrections facility must register with the Minnesota CHOICE program for release notification.
A public defender will not be appointed on a petty misdemeanor case. You have the right to hire a private lawyer but do not have a right to a public defender.
You may apply for a public defender. If you qualify financially, a public defender will be appointed (except for a petty misdemeanor level charge.) Some co-payment may be required. You should apply for a public defender as soon as possible, by contacting Olmsted County Court Administration at 507-206-2496 or you may pick up an application on the 5th floor of the Olmsted County Government Center.
Assuming a guilty plea or conviction, a judge can take into consideration someone's financial circumstances. One option frequently utilized is community work service in place of payment of a fine. Community work service is credited toward a fine at the rate of $10/hour (e.g. $200 fine or 20 hours community work service.) If the resolution involves a conviction there are fees and surcharges (usually $85) that must be paid in cash. There is a minimal fee charged for the community work service program.
Payment plans are also an option. If you are resolving your case directly with the prosecutor you can be given up to four months to pay a fine. If you need a longer period of time a judge would need to approve that request.
Attorneys from this office cannot give legal advice to citizens or defendant's calling with legal questions. You have the right to consult with a private attorney or apply for a public defender.
I received a ticket for driving after suspension/revocation/cancellation. My driver's license is now valid. What can I do about my ticket?
Depending on your driving record, the prosecutor may be willing to resolve your case in a manner that does not cause you a new driver's license issue. This resolution would require you to remain law abiding for a period of time along with payment of a fine.
I received a traffic ticket. I'm concerned about my driving record, insurance costs, etc. How can I keep this ticket off of my record? Does the City offer some type of "safe driving class?"
While the City would certainly encourage steps to safer driving, we are not able to offer any type of diversion sentence tied to a "safe driving class". Additionally, absent exceptional circumstances the prosecutor will NOT be able to keep the ticket off of your record.
One exception under the law is for a speeding ticket of 65 mph or less, either in a 60 or a 55 mph zone. Such an offense would NOT be reported to your driving record.
Should you wish to build a privacy fence on your property, please contact the Olmsted County Planning & Zoning Department at 507-328-7100 to obtain the necessary permits and/or information.
City arraignment days are scheduled weekly on Tuesday and Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. Two prosecutors are there to discuss your case and attempt to resolve it. Absent exceptional circumstances, anyone wanting to discuss their case with the prosecutor needs to appear at their scheduled arraignment date. If you cannot make your scheduled arraignment, you need to contact District Court at 507-206-2496 and reschedule for another Tuesday or Wednesday.
What are my rights concerning a boundary tree or a neighbor's property that encroaches onto my property?
The University of Minnesota Extension Service has a helpful fact sheet on tree law that can be found at:
As a matter of policy, the Prosecutor does not routinely drop charges; therefore, a victim should be certain of his/her actions when pursuing charges. Only the Prosecutor can drop charges against a defendant; however, you should let the Prosecutor's office know if you no longer wish to proceed with the case. While the Prosecutor will take your wishes into consideration, the Prosecutor must also take into consideration the safety of the community and other factors when making a decision to drop charges or proceed with the case.
The City Attorney's office represents the City, its elected officials and staff, City departments and the City's boards, commissions and authorities in civil matters. The attorneys in the office are not allowed to represent private citizens in any type of proceeding. In criminal prosecutions the City Attorney's office represents the State of Minnesota.
Yes, Please contact the Victim Witness Liaison at 507-328-2180 to schedule a meeting.
It depends. Most crime victim cases can be resolved without the need for testifying or going to court. Every case is different. You should consult with the Victim Witness Liaison if you have concerns.
- In instances where a building permit may not be required, contact Community Development to inquire about a zoning certificate at email@example.com or via phone at 507.328.2950. Contact the Rochester Building Safety Department via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 507.328.2600 to determine whether your project will require a building permit.
- Fences that are 6’ or less do not need a building permit as long as it does not interfere with the line of site for vehicles. Fences may be built up to the property line, but not over the property line. Fences cannot be built in a drainage easement. Please contact the Community Development Department at 507.328.2950 if you are planning to build a fence or wall in a front yard, or along a road, driveway, sidewalk, or an alley. You can read more about fence permitting at www.rochestermn.gov/home/showdocument?id=19551.
While walk-ins are welcome, our Planners are happy to schedule an appointment with you to discuss any planning and zoning questions or concerns and reduce any possible wait time you may experience as a walk-in. Planners are typically available to meet during normal business hours throughout the week and can be contacted at email@example.com or via phone at 507.328.2950. The Community Development Department is co-located with Public Works in City Hall at 201 4th Street SE, Rochester, Minnesota 55904.
Some properties may have site plans on file at the Rochester Building Safety Department. Please contact the Building Safety Department at 507.328.2600 to request a copy of a site plan. You may also be able to determine the approximate location of your property lines by looking up the Subdivision Plat or Interactive Zoning Map. If you are unable to find the survey markers in the ground at your property, you can hire a licensed land surveyor. Community Development does not keep any surveys on file.
The Community Development Department is located at 201 4th Street SE, Rochester, Minnesota 55904. You can reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 507.328.2950.
Property lines are determined by a survey. Do not assume that a fence is a reliable marker for the location of a side or rear property line. You may be able to determine the approximate location of your property lines by looking up the Subdivision Plat or Interactive Zoning Map. If you are unable to find the survey markers in the ground at your property, you can hire a licensed land surveyor to mark your property lines.
Subdivision Plat URL - www.co.olmsted.mn.us/pw/surveying/Pages/SubdivisionAlphabeticalSearch.aspx
Interactive Zoning Map URL – https://gweb01.co.olmsted.mn.us/Flexviewers/OlmstedCountyGISMap/
- Building setbacks depend on how the property is zoned. Please contact the Community Development Department at email@example.com or via phone at 507.328.2950 to determine the building setbacks for your property.
The Community Development Department teammates are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (except on holidays).
Congratulations! Rochester is filled with rich history, much of which is characterized by our beautiful buildings. For information and resources on historic preservation, please visit our website at www.rochestermn.gov/departments/community-development/heritage-preservation.
If you are trying to do research on historic property, visit the Olmsted County History Center website at www.olmstedhistory.com.
- Community Development is about public and private sectors working together to build a strong community that is economically, socially, and environmentally healthy and resilient. It often includes:
• Strong neighborhoods
• Long range planning
• Economic development
• Preservation of cultural resources
Planning is the strategic management of community or neighborhood growth. City planners ensure the way in which buildings, roads, and parks develop are both attractive and convenient for residents.
Zoning helps to control the physical development and use of land. It dictates where residential, industrial, recreational, or commercial activities can take place, helping to protect investment in property.
Detached garages and sheds must meet both building codes and zoning requirements for setbacks, height, square footage, etc. Please contact the Community Development Department with a sketch or a site plan outlining the proposed location of the garage or shed to discuss the zoning requirements with a planner. The Building Safety Department can be reached at 507.328.2600 to verify building codes requirements for your desired structure.
For information about permits and applications, please visit the Citizen Access Portal at aca.rochestermn.gov/citizenaccess/.
Building permit information can be found at www.rochestermn.gov/departments/building-safety/reports-building-permits/building-permits-2019.
The Rochester Land Development Manual and Zoning Ordinance offers a searchable feature for your convenience and is available online at www.rochestermn.gov/departments/planning-and-zoning/land-development-manual-and-ordinances.
The City of Rochester has a Zoning Compliance Liaison who can be reached via phone at 507.328.2955.
The Olmsted County Planning Department has experts in both flood plains and watershed areas. They can be reached at 507.328.7100 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In a church or theater: Do not panic. If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.
- In a mobile home:Get out! Even if your home is tied down, it is not as safe as an underground shelter or permanent, sturdy building. Go to one of those shelters, or to a nearby permanent structure, using your tornado evacuation plan. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. This mobile-home safety video from the State of Missouri may be useful in developing your plan.
- You will need to login to Rochester Alertto create a profile. The best way is to use the browser on your computer. You can also use a mobile phone or tablet to enroll. Go to the enrollment page here to begin.
- You can check for alerts at your predefined locations when you log in to the site. Once logged in, the page will filter down to alerts you are signed up for. If no alerts show up that means there are no alerts that you are interested in. You can click the magnifying glass icon and change the filter to “All Alerts” in order to see what is going on outside of your area of interest.
- No. WEA messages are broadcast from area cell towers to mobile devices in the area. Every WEA-capable phone within range receives the message. When you are traveling, WEA messages are received from the area you are located, not from your home location.
- It is free to receive emergency alerts from the City of Rochester and Olmsted County. The only charge you might receive will come from your cell phone carrier. While most people have unlimited text messages, some plans charge for excessive text messages. You likely will receive one to six texts messages in any one month - less in the winter months.
- Once logged into the system you can customize alerts by creating custom warning sets from the "My Account" page. These sets will let you set the categories and severity levels of alerts you would like to receive. To do so, find the "Custom Warning Sets" section and click the add button.
- It's free...it's easy...go here to Sign Up for Rochester Alert
Log in and click "My Account" on the upper left side of the page.
- You may get very few WEA messages or you may receive frequent messages when conditions change during an emergency. The number of messages depends on the number of imminent threats to life or property in your area.
- Rochester Alert will send text messages, ring your phone numbers, send emails, and you can add more than one email/cell phone/regular phone. Whenever an alert is sent, it will go to all of your listed numbers or emails.
- In the open outdoors: If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.
- Yes. Wireless emergency alert (WEA) messages are not affected by temporary cell network congestion.
- In a car or truck: Vehicles are extremely risky in a tornado. There is no safe option when caught in a tornado in a car, just slightly less-dangerous ones. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or underground if possible. If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible -- out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or other cushion if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway,leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
- Once logged into the system, go to the "My Account" page and select the "Vacation Schedule" section and click the Add button. From here you will be able to set the time range you would like to pause alerts for.
- Many of the major wireless providers carry WEA-capable devices. To confirm your device is capable of receiving the alerts and are available in your area, please check with your wireless provider. Most smartphones manufactured in 2012 or later have the capability to receive WEA messages.
- In an office building, hospital, nursing home or skyscraper:Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building -- away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.
- Keep your family together and wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Carefully render aid to those who are injured. Stay away from power lines and puddles with wires in them; they may still be carrying electricity! Watch your step to avoid broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects. Stay out of any heavily damaged houses or buildings; they could collapse at any time. Do not use matches or lighters, in case of leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby. Remain calm and alert, and listen for information and instructions from emergency crews or local officials.
- Sirens warn people who are outdoors. Go indoors and find a sturdy shelter. Protect yourself from flying objects. People indoors should listen to radios, TV or Weather Radio warnings to find out the latest information. Check with local emergency management officials to learn about local siren activations.
- There is no substitute for staying alert to the sky. Besides an obviously visible tornado, here are some things to look and listen for:
- Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
- Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base -- tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!
- Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
- Day or night - Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
- Night - Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.
- Night - Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning -- especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.
- Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are used to send concise, text-like messages to WEA-capable mobile devices during emergency situations.
- A WEA looks like a short, text message accompanied by a special tone and vibration. The WEA message will show:
- Who is sending the alert
- What is happening
- Who is affected
- What action to take
- In a shopping mall or large store: Do not panic. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows. Some stores have safety plans. Follow instructions of employees, and move to the area of safety. Don't try to leave the store to outrun the tornado.
- Yes. Wireless Emergency Alerts are geographically targeted. If you travel into a threat area after an alert is first sent, your WEA-capable device will receive the message when you enter the area.
- A warning is the most serious level. For severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flash floods, a warning means the weather event is imminent or occurring somewhere in the defined warning area and that people need to take shelter as soon as possible.
- A watch means weather conditions are favorable for dangerous weather to occur. In other words, a "watch" means watch out for what the weather could do, and be ready to act accordingly. For events that come and go quickly, such as severe thunderstorms, tornadoes or flash floods, a watch means that the odds are good for the dangerous weather, but it's not yet happening.
- An advisory is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. Advisories are for less serious conditions than warnings that cause significant inconvenience and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life or property.
Rochester Alert is a free emergency notification system. Local police, fire, and emergency management will alert you in time of emergency or disaster.
You may wish to alter or have a back-up plan for any outdoor activities or travel. When a severe thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood watch is in effect, it means you should look for signs of dangerous weather and maintain access to the latest information. Sometimes a severe thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood can happen so quickly that warnings can't be issued in time.
- Follow any action advised by the message. If needed, seek more details from local media or local public safety authorities.
- Presidential Alerts - Issued during a national emergency
- AMBER Alerts - Issued for the abduction of a child in your area
- Imminent Threat Alerts - Issued for extreme weather or harmful events that threatening life or property in your area
In a house with a basement: Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you. Head protection, such as a helmet, can offer some protection also.
In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment: Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail. A helmet can offer some protection against head injury.
- At school:Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
- Alerts received at the right time can save lives.
- No. The alert will be delayed until you finish your conversation.
- No. This service is offered for free and will not count towards texting limits on your wireless plan.
Office of Mayor
Please email Michon Rogers, Executive Assistant, at email@example.com or call (507) 328-2700 to schedule a month!
Mayor Norton makes every attempt to attend as many community events and activities as her schedule allows. Please send your event/activity information in any of the following ways:
Email (preferred): Michon Rogers, Executive Assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: (507) 328-2700
U.S. Mail: Mayor’s Office, City Hall, 201 4th Street SE, Rochester, MN 55904
Please send invitations at least 30 days in advance (the sooner the better)!
We look forward to hearing from you!
Please email the proclamation language to Michon Rogers, Executive Assistant, at email@example.com. Please allow a two week turnaround time.
Mayor Norton maintains an open-door policy and is available to meet with community members. However, her busy meeting schedule and attendance at community events doesn’t always accommodate walk-in visitors. To ensure time with the Mayor, please email Michon Rogers, Executive Assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (507) 328-2700 to schedule a meeting with the Mayor.
- Yes. If you have requested service at your home, the service vehicle can park at your home as long as the service vehicle clearly has a Named Logo on the vehicle.
- Yes. The caregiver may purchase a business permit. They will need to show proof of employment and their vehicle's registration.
- No. Each resident, if not a spouse or child, needs to apply for their own permit. Each resident must show proof of residency and vehicle registration.
- No, by city ordinance any vehicle one ton or larger, including an RV or Trailer, can only park on a city street for no longer than one hour. This restriction means it is not eligible for a permit.
- No. Your license plate number is now registered as your RPP (Residential Parking Permit). This makes it essential that you update your permit anytime you have a change to your vehicle or license plate number.
The answer to this depends upon how long visitors will be staying at your home.
If a visitor is coming to your home for less than 14 days, please call the City Clerk's Office at 507-328-2900. You will need to provide vehicle information ( Make, Year, Color and License Plate Number) plus the dates your guest will be visiting.
If a visitor is staying between 14 and 30 days, they must purchase a Temporary Parking Permit for $15. This can be done in person at City Clerk's Office or by mail, and needs to include information about the resident of the parking zone as well as the visitor's vehicle.
- In order to establish or expand a residential permit parking zone, a petition must be filed with the City Clerk that is signed by at least 75% of the owners or occupants of property abutting the street described in the proposed zone. Each residential unit and each non-residential facility meeting the eligibility criteria within the proposed zone shall count as one vote in determining if the 75% threshold is met. Unoccupied units are excluded from the calculation of the 75% threshold when reasonable efforts to contact the property owner have been unsuccessful.The City Clerk shall refer the petition to the City Engineer for consideration. At a public hearing, the City Engineer shall provide the Common Council with a recommendation regarding establishment or expansion of the proposed residential permit parking zone based on the petition’s compliance with the established criteria.At least 14 days prior to the public hearing, hearing notices will be mailed to the owners or occupants of property abutting a street proposed to be located in the residential permit parking zone. Following the hearing, the Common Council may adopt a resolution establishing or expanding the residential parking zone if it determines the petition satisfies the criteria provided in Rochester Code of Ordinances 138A.02.
You can sign up for monthly parking by going to the City parking website, under General Information, Monthly Parking. There you will find a phone number to call (507) 282-4545 and a web link for online set up.
- This parking is for passenger loading and unloading. The maximum time allowed is 15 minutes. The same rule applies to the Passenger/Commodity Loading Zones that are signed.
- Your Residential Parking Permit is good for a full year from the day of purchase.
There is a one-time $6 application fee per vehicle for new applications and $25 per year per vehicle Permit fee.
Renewals are $25 per year per vehicle.
City Ordinances include several guidelines for parking.
Chapter 11-6 of the Rochester Code of Ordinances contains the City's parking regulations.
Sec. 11-6-10. - Prohibited Stops:
No person shall park a vehicle, whether attended or unattended, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the directions of a police officer or traffic control device, in any of the following places:
(1) On a sidewalk or on an improved boulevard between a sidewalk and a roadway;
(2) In front of a public or private driveway or alley or within five feet of the intersection of any public or private driveway or alley with any street;
(3) Within an intersection;
(4) Within ten feet of a fire hydrant located on or near any public street. This distance is measured by taking a direct line to the nearest street and measuring ten feet in either direction. All other fire hydrants will be measured as having a no parking zone within a ten foot circumference of the hydrant itself;
(5) Within ten feet of any curb side mailbox, public or private;
(6) On a crosswalk;
(7) Within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection;
(8) Within 30 feet upon the approach of any flashing school signal, stop sign, traffic control signal, or school sign at the side of a roadway;
(9) Within a designated or marked Bus Stop or taxicab stand;
(10) Within 50 feet of the nearest rail of a railroad crossing;
(11) Within 20 feet of the driveway entrance to any fire station and, on the side of a street opposite the entrance to any fire station, within 75 feet of said entrance when properly sign-posted;
(12) Alongside or opposite any street excavation or obstruction when such stopping, standing, or parking would obstruct traffic;
(13) Upon any bridge or other elevated structure upon a street except the Fourth Street Southeast Bridge over the Zumbro River and the East Center Street Bridge over the Zumbro River;
(14) So as to block a fire escape or the emergency exit from any building;
(15) At any place where temporary signs prohibit parking, stopping or standing as long as such signs are in place;
(16) At any place where official signs or markings prohibit stopping, standing or parking;
(17) On a street or alley when directed or ordered to proceed by any person or police officer invested by law with authority to direct, control or regulate traffic.
I have a disability and was issued a disability plate or tag for my car. How long can I park at the meters?
Under Rochester City Ordinance, vehicles with a state issued disability plate or tag may:
- Park free at any metered space up to 4 hours in 1 hour, 90 minute, 2 hour, and 3 hour metered zones.
- Receive a 50% discount when parked in a cashiered municipal ramp as an hourly customer.
I parked in the 3rd Street Ramp and accidentally paid for the wrong parking spot. I received a parking ticket for not paying. Can I have my ticket dismissed?
The 3rd Street Ramp is operated under contract by Lanier Parking. Please contact them 507-282-4545.
I parked in the 3rd Street Ramp overnight and received a “Parking Ticket” from Lanier Parking and then I received a ticket from the City of Rochester Parking Control for not paying for my parking space
Lanier Parking charged you a fee to park in the ramp overnight. The City of Rochester gave you a parking ticket for parking in a space after 8 a.m. without paying for it.
I was only in the clinic for a few minutes and when I returned I had a parking ticket. Can I have my ticket dismissed?While this reason may seem valid, it does not address the Rochester Code of Ordinances or Minnesota state law. No stop, no matter how short or how important to the driver, is an acceptable excuse for illegal parking. A short errand or stop to run in somewhere is a very common excuse, but is not a valid reason for illegal parking. Administrative review of citations on this basis is not available. If you wish to contest the citation in District Court, follow the instructions on the back of the citation and go to Court on the 5th Floor of the Government Center on Wednesdays at 1 p.m.
- Residential Parking Permits are intended to provide relief to neighborhood residents from parked vehicles by people with no association with the residents or businesses in the neighborhood. They are established by Rochester Code of Ordinances Chapter 138A, and allow only residents who have obtained permits to park on city streets within the identified zone during specific hours.
You are required to present Proof of Residency and Vehicle Registration in order to apply for a Residential Parking Permit (RPP). This should be done at the City Clerk's Office in City Hall.
The following are acceptable documents for Proof of Residency:
- Valid Drivers License with current address
- OR, current electric/phone/cable bill
- OR, lease agreement
Vehicle Registration must have:
- License Plate Number
- Make, Model, Year of Vehicle
- Contact the City Clerk's Office at 507-328-2900. The vehicle registration information will be needed for the new vehicle.
In the City of Rochester, parking meters are enforced from 8:00 AM-5PM Monday-Friday, with the exception of the following days:
• New Year’s Day (January 1)
• Memorial Day
• Independence Day-July 4
• Labor Day
• Thanksgiving Day
• Christmas Day (December 25)
Information about how to report a malfunction is printed on all parking meters in the City. If a meter is not operating correctly, please notify the City Clerk’s Office at the time you first park and discover the malfunction. Call 507-328-2900 and be prepared to provide the specific meter number (NOT the zone number), a description of the issue, and your license plate number.
If you already loaded money into the meter, you may remained parked for the duration of the meter time limit. The Clerk’s Office will send a parking technician to check on the meter, and if a malfunction is noted, any ticket issued to you will be voided. Tickets issued as the result of an unreported meter malfunction cannot be voided.
Please note that issues with reloading additional time in excess of the posted time limits on a parking meter is not a malfunction. City ordinance requires you move your vehicle at least one block after the time limit on a meter expires.
For general questions about your parking ticket (NOT to contest your ticket), please submit your question through the website.
If you believe the citation was issued in error, you can request an administrative review of the citation by submitting an electronic review request form. Once this form is submitted online, it is reviewed by the Police Department and the City Clerk's Office.
If you wish to contest the citation in District Court including for any reason other than an error in issuance, please review the back of the citation for instructions on the process to plead not guilty in District Court. Bring your citation to the 5th Floor of the Olmsted County Government Center on Wednesdays (excluding holidays) at 1 p.m. If you have a question regarding court, please call 507-206-2496.
More information about parking citations is available from the City Clerk's Office.
The 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. no parking restriction is to allow the street maintenance division to sweep, flush, empty trash cans and remove snow (in the winter months) during off hours. This is to ensure Rochester’s streets are clean for the next day. If you plan on staying downtown after 2 a.m. you are encouraged to park in the City parking ramps.
Regarding the 9 a.m. restriction on 1st Ave SW on Saturdays -it is respect to businesses in the area. Since meters are not enforced on Saturdays many of the on-street spaces fill up with all day employees leaving no curb spaces for customers and visitors. The extended restriction until 9 a.m. past the work start times helps leave some spaces open for customers.
Parks and Recreation
How has the Rochester Police Department worked with communities of color and build relationships throughout the city?
We are committed to a community policing approach – establishing connections with members of the community in order to create, maintain and build trust and relationships.
These are a few of the programs RPD leads or participates in:
- Safe City Nights: The Safe City Nights program was designed to provide opportunities for community members, in all wards of the City of Rochester, to become familiar with the RPD members who serve them over a meal rather than just during times of trouble or need. The initiative was launched in 2019 with the intention that positive relationships are built, nurtured, and strengthened between the community and RPD. In total, over 5,400 people attended the six gatherings.
- Lights on Program: In 2019, we partnered with a non–profit agency that provided the RPD with vouchers to give members of the community that we find with vehicle light issues. Instead of a ticket, the community member in need received a voucher to get their lights repaired.
- New Americans Academy: In partnership with Rochester Fire Department, Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office, Olmsted County Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Victim’s Services, Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association, Hawthorne Education Center and others held a New Americans Academy. This academy was made up of four workshops designed to give community members not born in the United States an opportunity to learn about local law enforcement and the criminal justice system. The intent of the program was to enhance communication, understanding and trust between law enforcement officers and Rochester’s immigrant community.
- Police Assisted Recovery Program (PAR): The Police-Assisted Recovery project seeks to find new pathways to help people stay out of jail and access drug treatment services. Collaborating on this project are the Rochester Police Department, Zumbro Valley Health Center, Doc's Recovery House, Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, EmPower CTC, and Olmsted County Adult Behavioral Health. In 2019, PAR was the recipient of Mayo Clinic’s Shared Value Award.
- Police Activities League program (PAL): PAL is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to reducing juvenile crime and violence by giving kids a safe place to play, positive role models, and creative activities to engage in—all with no charge. We currently sponsor a football and baseball team. Our goal is to develop and nurture strong communities and relationships between police officers, children, and families.
- Shop with a Cop: Shop with a Cop provides a fun filled day for a number of children in need throughout Rochester, while creating positive relationships with law enforcement. The children chosen to participate in the program are identified by schools, youth organizations, and social services agencies. On the day of the event, uniformed officers from various local and state offices volunteer their time to be with the children shopping. Each child will shop for their family as well as a child from the community where the police officer serves.
- Bike and Kids Bike Program: This is a newer program within the past three years. We go into communities where resources may be limited and interact with people, encouraging kids to bring their bikes to officers who can do repairs on those bikes. In addition, we give bikes and helmets to those who may not have one.
- National Night Out (NNO): NNO is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie.
- Public speaking: RPD speaks to clubs, organizations and at public gatherings when asked. Examples include-Barber Shop Talk, Human Rights Commission, RNeighbors, Meadow Park Neighborhood, Somali Elders, Rotary Club etc.
Lastly, free grocery delivery during the COVID pandemic was provided by the RPD Community Service Officers and Cub Foods, as a partnership offered to help keep at-risk, home-bound, and elderly citizens safe during the Governor Walz’s Stay at Home Order.
- Safe City Nights: The Safe City Nights program was designed to provide opportunities for community members, in all wards of the City of Rochester, to become familiar with the RPD members who serve them over a meal rather than just during times of trouble or need. The initiative was launched in 2019 with the intention that positive relationships are built, nurtured, and strengthened between the community and RPD. In total, over 5,400 people attended the six gatherings.
In the City of Rochester, in addition to the City Council and Mayor, we use two community led committees to help provide input for the law enforcement system. We have a 3-member Police Civil Service Commission that reviews and recommends new hires and promotions. We also have a 7-member Police Policy Oversight Committee that reviews and recommends policy and may review citizen complaints.
The Rochester Police Department’s hiring criteria is established and managed by the Police Civil Service Commission. The process included numerous steps, each of which evaluates a candidate’s character, understanding of 21st Century Policing concepts, as well as work and personal history. For the last two years we have focused much less on previous police experience and much more on the character of the candidate. This character based process includes:
- Initial resume and screening to identify any background issues in either the work or personal life.
- A testing assessment to evaluate a candidate’s attitudes, values and background.
- A second interview to explore deeper the candidates values and understanding of our values, as well as, seek clarity on any issues identified in the testing assessment.
- A thorough background investigation that includes review of all personnel records and personal interviews with all past employers. (These backgrounds are forwarded to the Civil Service Commission for a determination on a pass or fail basis)
- A complete psychological examination to determine a candidate’s fitness to perform the duties of Police Officer in the City of Rochester.
- An interview with the Chief to provide an additional review of the candidate.
We have not yet signed on to #8cantwait– but when the new policies (currently under revision and awaiting final review) are adopted, I am confident we will meet all 8 requirements. Currently we have a solid six of the eight in place and one of them, chokeholds, has not be used in practice for many years. A change was made on June 9, 2020 to prohibit the use of neck restraints/carotid control unless deadly force is authorized. This is currently under further review by the Police Policy Oversight Committee.
Here is the RPD’s current response to the #8cantwait:
Bans Chokeholds and Strangleholds:
RPD policy allows for a carotid control hold/vascular neck restraint for restraining a violent or combative individual subject only in cases where deadly force would be authorized. RPD officers are trained to use this technique only when deadly force is authorized.
RPD Policy - Crisis Intervention Incidents: Officers are required to use conflict resolution and de-escalation techniques to stabilize an incident as appropriate. When determining the necessity of a use of force, an officer’s attempt to de-escalate the incident is expected and will be evaluated. In addition, de-escalation techniques are a required part of training in RPD policy. RPD has adopted the ICAT training model for de-escalation and has been practicing and training the concept for 3 years.
Require Warning Before Shooting:
RPD Policy - Deadly Force: requires a verbal warning before using deadly force when feasible.
Exhaust All Other Means Before Shooting:
RPD Policy - Deadly Force: states an officer may use deadly force:
- To protect him/herself or another from what he/she reasonably believes would be an imminent threat of death or serious great bodily harm
- To stop a fleeing subject when the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed, or intends to commit, a felony involving the infliction or attempted infliction of great serious bodily injury or death, and the officer reasonably believes there is an imminent risk of great serious bodily injury or death to any other person if the subject is not immediately apprehended.
These are the only circumstances where an officer is justified to shoot. The ICAT model trains officers to exhaust all means before using deadly force, including tactical repositioning, considering distance and cover to allow more time for a peaceful resolution.
Duty to Intervene
RPD Policy - Duty to Intercede: This policy as well as the MN Police Code of Conduct (Principle Two, section 2, F) require officers to intervene and take appropriate action. Officers are also required to report such conduct to a supervisor.
Ban Shooting at Moving Vehicles
RPD Policy - Shooting at/or From Moving Vehicles: This policy requires officers to “move out of the path” of an approaching vehicle and only allows for shooting at a moving vehicle in order to prevent death or great bodily harm consistent with when deadly force would be authorized.
Require Use of Force Continuum
RPD has adopted a more robust critical decision-making model applied to use of force. Our model and training is based on force options weighing the State Statute standard of “objectively reasonable standard”, “totality of circumstances”, and “necessity” at the time force is implemented. Incorporating necessity into use of force is a higher standard than the traditional use of force continuum.
Requires Comprehensive Reporting
Comprehensive reporting is required throughout the policy manual, from crime incidents to vehicle accidents. The reporting of use of force incidents, (Reporting The Use of Force) requires that any use of force by a member of this department shall be documented promptly, completely and accurately in an appropriate report. All use of force reports are individually reviewed by supervisors.
I have called the Police Policy Oversight Committee together on June 9, 2020 to fulfill my commitment to President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Pledge for Mayors to review their policies and seeking review and recommends in the next 90 days. The state laws limit citizen boards from investigation, funding of fact and discipline. They can however make recommendations regarding the merit of a complaint as an advisory to the Police Chief and Mayor.
With the goal of being a welcoming, compassionate and just city, we entered into an agreement to undergo a citywide assessment using the Intercultural Cities Initiative using the Intercultural Cities Index (ICI) – an international measurement developed and used through the Council of Europe. Rochester is the first city in the United States to participate in this opportunity. The overall goal is to help us make evidence-based judgements of the impact and outcomes of our policies and resource investment. We worked with a number of community partners, including the Diversity Council (DC). Dee Sabol of the DC is the lead on this collaborative city-wide project which seeks to survey our community about its awareness and intersection with diverse communities and cultures. The survey has been completed and we await the results which measure us against international communities across the globe.
Rochester has been involved with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) for the last two years. The GARE team has been working to train our city staff about principles and policies that specifically address racism in city government. That training is expected to expand this year - although the pandemic has caused a delay. We hope this will allow us to look out our own city policies and policy-making with an eye always on race, equity and inclusion.
Like most communities, we have a ways to go to create a fair and just city, but we recognize the need and are seeking solutions that work for our community while partnering with a wide variety of non-profits and businesses. Efforts at increased community engagement are occurring throughout the City with the addition of Polco, an online feedback opportunity and through utilizing neighborhood groups to understand what is happening in the community. One of our key means of involving the community directly is through our boards and commissions. We have
been striving to create diverse boards so that input and resulting policy decisions reflect our entire community. To encourage this, the City has supported the Ready to Lead program.
Lastly, while not directly a City function, I have worked with Olmsted County Public Health on their work looking at the social determinants of health. That work has influenced my “healthy community” and “sustainability” initiatives we have been working to kick off this year that are centered on equity as a core value. The Sustainability Council has begun to meet and we hope for a citywide plan by next year.
The RPD is fully committed to improving the way we serve our community. When Chief Franklin started in the role in 2018, he brought with him a philosophy based on President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force.
In addition to the mandated requirements by the State of Minnesota, we go above and beyond what is required, with a view to constant improvement and continuing professional development.
RPD officers must successfully complete 48 hours of law enforcement related continuing education every three years. Officers must maintain documentation to prove successful completion of their required credits. The documentation is sent to the MN State POST Board that oversees Peace Officer licenses.
Active officers must complete use of force training every year. This training must be based on the employing agency’s use of force policy and the learning objectives provided by the POST Board.
Active officers must complete an eight hour course in emergency vehicle operations and in the conduct of police pursuits every five years. This training must be based on the employing agency’s pursuit policy and the learning objectives provided by the POST Board.
On January 25, 2018, the Minnesota POST Board approved learning objectives for training in crisis intervention and mental illness crises, conflict management and mediation and recognizing and valuing community diversity and cultural differences, to include implicit bias, as required by Minn. Stat. 626.8469. These objectives were developed through the board’s training committee with the assistance of subject matter experts and other interested parties, and vetted against state and national resources
Here is a link to the Crisis Intervention/De-Escalation Objectives that the State mandates we train every 3 year license cycle: (16 hours)
Here is a link to the Conflict Management/Mediation Objectives that the State mandates we train every 3 year license cycle: (16 hours)
Here is a link to the Implicit Bias/Community Diversity/Cultural Differences that every Officer must receive every 3 year license cycle: (16 hours) every 3 years
For the past 2 years, RPD has used Quantico Police Training to provide the mandated Implicit Bias/Community Difference/Cultural Diversity training. Despite this mandated training being offered on-line and locally, the Rochester Police Department elected to exceed the POST standard and contract with Quantico Police Training in order to provide RPD employees with in-person comprehensive instruction led by nationally recognized leaders and law enforcement trainers in these topics.
RPD officers are required to complete all of this training within their 3 year license cycle. Here at Rochester PD we exceed what the MN Post Board mandates we train.
RPD officers are mandated to annually complete an additional 3 hours of online Use of Force training developed by the League of MN Cities (Patrol Online)
Crisis Intervention Training is a well-known 40 hour training program that gives officers hands-on de-escalation training CIT training is a part of the culture here at RPD and has been since 2007
- 40 hour CIT Training is provided annually
- 80% of officers have received the CIT Officer certification
- The goal is 100%
- officers are empowered to take the time to de-escalate incidents without using force
RPD Training also provides Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics (ICAT) Training
- ICAT Training is 16 hours of training
- Developed by the Police Executive Research Forum in collaboration with the US Department of Justice in 2016
- Integrated into annual Use of Force Training attended by 100% of sworn officers
- Each newly hired RPD officer gets 2 full days (16 hours) of ICAT Training prior to beginning field training
- RPD officers receive Training on responding to emotionally disturbed people, people armed with weapons other than firearms, and to constantly assess and re-assess their need to use force
- RPD officers are encouraged to try and slow things down when they can, bring less lethal options to incidents that have the potential for deadly force, and keep their emotions in check so that they can make rational decisions.
The Police Oversight Committee (PPOC) is made up of members of the community who review RPD policies and procedures. The PPOC is charged with reviewing RPD’s “use of force’ policies within the next 30 days.
RPD is currently in the process of reviewing and redrafting all policies. This process began in 2019, when RPD contracted with a company to review update policies based on best practice and research. The PPOC will review all of the new policies and provide input before they are finalized.
The Police Civil Service is made up of three members: one black male, one white female, and one white male.
The Police Policy Oversight Commission is seven members: One NAACP appointee, one Human Rights Commission appointee (both people of color), and five Mayoral appointees of which there were two persons of color (one male and one female), two white people (one male & one female) and a judge (white male.)
Hiring for Diversity
Hiring for diversity has been a goal for both the Chief and I during the last year. Our focus has paid off with excellent hires, despite a shrinking applicant pool across the state and nation in the law enforcement profession. Additionally, there are excellent officers throughout the department that have provided leadership and mentoring for the new hires.
Within the past two years, RPD has had two recruit hiring classes consisting of 7 officers and 10 officers, each comprised of 40% women and people of color.
Much like a driver’s license, a Minnesota Peace Officer License contains a unique number, which follows an officer regardless of where they work. This would include a record of where they have worked and if their license has ever been suspended or revoked. . A Peace Officer from another state cannot be hired in Minnesota, without first obtaining a Peace Officer License, which provides an initial level of screening prior to the issuance of the license. The Minnesota POST Board also maintains a record of all background investigations done on licensees in Minnesota.
Traffic signals don't always prevent accidents. They are not always an asset to traffic control. In some instances, accidents and severe injuries increased after signals were installed. Usually, in such instances, right angle collisions were reduced by the traffic signals, but the total number of collisions, especially the rear-end type, increased.
There are times when the installation of signals results in an increase in pedestrian accidents. Many pedestrians feel secure with a painted crosswalk and a red light between them and an approaching vehicle. The motorist, on the other hand, is not always so quick to recognize these "barriers."
When can a traffic signal be an asset instead of a liability to safety? In order to answer this, traffic engineers have to ask and answer a series of questions:
1. Are there so many cars on both streets that signal controls are necessary to clear up the confusion or relieve the congestion?
2. Is the traffic on the main street so heavy that drivers on the side street will try to cross when it is unsafe?
3. Are there so many pedestrians trying to cross a busy main street that confusing, congested or hazardous conditions result?
4. Are there so many school children trying to cross the street at the same time that they need special controls for their protection? If so, is a traffic signal the best solution?
5. Are signals at this location going to help drivers maintain a uniform pace along the route without stopping unnecessarily?
6. Does the collision history indicate that signal controls will reduce the probability of collisions?
7. Do two arterials intersect at this location and will a signal help improve the flow of traffic?
8. Is there a combination of the above conditions which indicates that a signal will be an improvement rather than a detriment?
To aid them in answering these questions, engineers compare the existing conditions against nationally accepted minimum guidelines. These guidelines (often called "Warrants") were established from many observations at intersections throughout the country by experienced traffic engineers. Where the guidelines were met, the signals generally were operating effectively with good public compliance. Where the guidelines were not met, public compliance was reduced, and additional hazards resulted.
A traffic signal that decreases accidents and improves the flow of traffic is an asset to any community. On the other hand, an ill-advised or poorly designed signal can be a source of danger and annoyance to all who use the intersection; pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.
These are examples of issues with construction sediment control.
These are examples of damaged and obstructed signs. If the sign is a stop sign then it is considered an emergency. Please call the emergency contact numbers provided on the main service request page.
These are examples of illegal dumping in waterways.
These are examples of storm water pond concerns.
These are examples of streambank erosion.
- Sanitary Sewer & Storm Sewer Backups
- Call 507-328-2640 24/7 to report a sewer emergency.
- Traffic Concerns
- Call 911 for emergencies.
- Call the police non-emergency line at 507-328-6800 for non-emergency crashes, knock-downs, or other situations that require traffic control. Note: Signals flashing red are not emergencies
- Rochester Public Utilities (RPU)
- Power outage: 507-280-9191
- Watermain breaks, street light maintenance, and electrical lines: 507-280-1500 or 800-778-3421
- Additional contact information
- Public Works Infrastructure Maintenance: 507-328-2450
- Click here for Public Works contacts
- Sanitary Sewer & Storm Sewer Backups
Apparently, whenever it is painted on the street!
A number of years back, the City of San Diego published some startling results of a very extensive study of the relative safety of marked and unmarked crosswalks. San Diego looked at 400 intersections for five years (without signals or four-way stops) that had a marked crosswalk on one side and an unmarked crosswalk on the other. About two and one half times as many pedestrians used the marked crosswalk, but about six times as many accidents were reported in the marked crosswalks! Long Beach studied pedestrian safety for three years (1972 through 1974) and found eight times as many reported pedestrian accidents at intersections with marked crosswalks than at those without. One explanation of this apparent contradiction of common sense is the false security pedestrians feel at the marked crosswalk. Two painted lines do not provide protection against an oncoming vehicle and the real burden of safety has to be on the pedestrian to be alert and cautious while crossing any street. A pedestrian can stop in less than three feet, while a vehicle traveling at 25 MPH will require 60 feet and at 35 MPH approximately 100 feet.
Pedestrian crosswalk marking is a method of encouraging pedestrians to use a particular crossing. Such marked crossings may not be as safe as an unmarked crossing at the same location. Therefore, crosswalks should be marked only where necessary for the guidance and control of pedestrians, to direct them to the safest potential routes.
A common belief is that posting a speed limit will influence drivers to drive at; that speed. The facts indicate otherwise.
Research conducted in many parts of this country over a span of several decades has shown that drivers are influenced more by the appearance of the highway itself and the prevailing traffic conditions than by the posted speed limit.
Minnesota's Basic Speed Law requires that:
"No person shall drive a vehicle on a ·highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event speed shall be so restricted as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care."
In Minnesota, the maximum speed limit in an urban district is 30 miles per hour unless otherwise posted. An urban district is defined as the territory contiguous to and including any street which is built up with structures devoted to business, industry, or dwelling houses situated at intervals of less than 100 feet for a distance of a quarter of a mile or more. Outside urban districts, the maximum speed limit for any passenger vehicle is currently 55 miles per hour. These speeds are not always posted but all Minnesota motorists are required to know these basic 30 and 55 mile per hour speed laws.
Under Minnesota law, intermediate speed limits (except school speed limits) between 30 and 55 miles per hour may be established on any road, including county highways and city streets, only by the State Commissioner of Transportation. The commissioner must establish the speed limit upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation. This investigation includes an analysis of roadway conditions, accident records, and the prevailing speed of prudent drivers. If speed limit signs are posted for a lower limit than is needed to safely meet these conditions, many drivers will simply ignore the signs. At the same time, other drivers will stay within the posted limits. This generally increases the conflicts between faster and slower drivers, reduces the gaps in traffic through which crossings could be made safely and increases the difficulty for pedestrians to judge the speed of approaching vehicles. Studies have shown that where uniformity of speed is not maintained, accidents generally increase.
A stop sign is one of our most valuable and effective control devices when used at the right place and under the right conditions. It is intended to help drivers and pedestrians at an intersection decide who has the right-of-way.
One common misuse of stop signs is to arbitrarily interrupt through traffic, either by causing it to stop, or by causing such an inconvenience as to force the traffic to use other routes. Where stop signs are installed as "nuisances" or "speed breakers," there is a high incidence of intentional violation. In those locations where vehicles do stop, the speed reduction is effective only in the immediate vicinity of the stop sign, and frequently speeds are actually higher between intersections. For these reasons, it should not be used as a speed control device.
A school crossing may look dangerous for children to use, causing parents to demand a stop sign to halt traffic. Now a vehicle which had been a problem for 3 seconds while approaching and passing the intersection becomes a problem for a much longer period. A situation of indecision is created as to when to cross as a pedestrian or when to start as a motorist. Normal gaps in traffic through which crossings could be made safely no longer exist. An intersection which previously was not busy now looks like a major intersection. lt really isn't - it just looks like it. It doesn't even look safer and it usually isn't.
Most drivers are reasonable and prudent with no intention of maliciously violating traffic regulations; however, when an unreasonable restriction is imposed, it may result in flagrant violations. In such cases, the stop sign can create a false sense of security in a pedestrian and an attitude of contempt in a motorist. These two attitudes can and often do conflict with tragic results.
Well-developed, nationally recognized guidelines help to indicate when such controls become necessary. These guidelines take into consideration, among other things, the probability of vehicles arriving at an intersection at the same time, the length of time traffic must wait to enter, and the availability of safe crossing opportunities.
An often heard neighborhood request concerns the posting of generalized warning signs with "SLOW-CHILDREN AT PLAY" or other similar messages. Parental concerns for the safety of children in the street near home, and a misplaced, but wide-spread public faith in traffic signs to provide protection often prompt these requests.
Although some other states have posted such signs widely in residential areas, no factual evidence has been presented to document their success in reducing pedestrian accidents, operating speeds or legal liability. Studies have shown that many types of signs attempting to warn of normal conditions in residential areas have failed to achieve the desired safety benefits. If signs encourage parents and children to believe they have an added degree of protection, which the signs do not and cannot provide, a great disservice results.
Because of these serious considerations, Minnesota law does not recognize, and Federal Standards discourage, use of "Children at Play" signs. Specific warnings for schools, playgrounds, parks and other recreational facilities are available for use where clearly justified.
Children should not be encouraged to play within the street travel ways. The sign has long been rejected since it is a direct and open suggestion that this behavior is acceptable.