Park Ordinance Project Frequently Asked Questions

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Why is the Park Ordinance being updated?

The Park Ordinance requires routine updating to stay current and align with community needs. The ordinance was last updated in 2007. A process to review the ordinance, gather resident feedback, and develop recommended changes to present to the board of commissioners for discussion has been underway since December 2020. No formal changes have been determined at this time.

Why is there discussion to possibly change park hours?

Currently, park and trail hours are set to 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. Residents have communicated a desire to have expanded access to park facilities that is consistent throughout the year, since hours are especially limited during the winter months. The current park hours prohibit uses such as early morning jogging, evening cross-country skiing or using regional trails to commute to and from work for some parts of the year.

During the public engagement process to review the Park Ordinance, survey questions specifically asked about expanding park access. This included questions about what would be appealing or concerning about expanding hours of operation to 5 a.m.-11 p.m. or providing 24/7 access to parks.

Why is there discussion to possibly change fines and penalties for violations of park rules?

Currently, any violation of the ordinance can be cited as a misdemeanor and carry a criminal penalty with up to a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail. This applies to all violations, including walking on a ski trail during the winter or having a picnic in a non-designated area. These penalties have negative equity impacts and go on a person’s permanent record as a criminal offense that can affect job status, college or rent applications, or immigration status. State statute can be used to enforce more serious crimes that occur within park facilities, while the park ordinance can contain penalties that fit the severity of the violation.

Will the new ordinance allow tents and 24/7 occupancy?

No. Camping within Ramsey County park locations is currently not allowed and changes to this specific ordinance are not being considered.

Ramsey County’s Housing Stability department works to connect people experiencing homelessness to stable indoor housing. Learn more about housing services and support.

Will there be more opportunities to share feedback on the proposed Park Ordinance updates?

board of commissioners workshop took place on Nov. 2, 2021, to present community engagement feedback and seek policy direction from Ramsey County commissioners. Following the board workshop, an ordinance draft was developed and presented at the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners meeting on January 18.  A public hearing is scheduled for February 8 where residents will have another opportunity to comment on the ordinance.