One problem residents and visitors may encounter in any community often relates to parking issues.  There is great diversity between the various communities as it relates to local parking ordinances.  Additionally, variations of parking limits can exist within a single community; depending on the type of vehicle or trailer you wish to park, the location within the community, and the weather conditions.  This can be confusing.

The rules and regulations relating to parking within the city limits of Willmar have been broken down into five areas, which can quickly assist anyone wishing to maintain compliance with or seeking information on local parking information.

Private Residential

If you are going to park your motor vehicle anywhere on private property, you need to make sure you have received permission from the owner of the property first or your vehicle can be subjected to immediate towing.  The owner of the vehicle is responsible for any tow or storage fees resulting from the tow and any tickets issued against the vehicle.

It is fairly easy to identify private land in residential areas, but with commercial and business areas, it becomes a little more difficult.  It is important to remember that just because a business, mall, apartment complex, etc., has a big parking lot, with other cars parked on it and tons of available space, it may not necessarily mean that you can park there.  If the land is privately owned, you could end up finding your vehicle gone upon your return.

Parking Enforcement for Vehicles on Private Property

If an abandoned, or unauthorized vehicle is parked on private property, the Willmar Police Department offers a service to Private Property Owners to remove such vehicles from their property

Who can authorize a vehicle to be removed from private property?
The property owner or any person authorized as an agent of the property owner and acting on behalf of the property owner (i.e., manager, caretaker, etc.).

How to request the Willmar Police Department to remove a vehicle:

  • You must have the authority (OWNER or AGENT OF OWNER) to remove the vehicle from the private property (your authority will be verified by the responding officer).
  • Complete and sign the required form “TOW AUTHORIZATION FROM PRIVATE PROPERTY”.
  • A warning of towing will be placed on the vehicle.
  • If the vehicle is not moved after 24 hours, the vehicle will be towed by the Willmar Police Department.
MN Statute 168B.04 allows vehicles to be towed from private property with the following restrictions:

Towing on private property is allowed on property that is:
(i) single-family or duplex residential property, immediately; 
(ii) private, non-residential property, properly posted, immediately; 
(iii) private, non-residential property, not posted, 24 hours; 
(iv) private, non-residential property of an operator of an establishment for the servicing, repair, or maintenance of motor vehicles, five (5) business days after notifying the vehicle owner by certified mail, return receipt requested, of the property owner's intention to have the vehicle removed from the property; or 
(v) any residential property, properly posted, immediately.

Always check for signs indicating no parking.  In the absence of signs, it doesn’t hurt to also inquire at the business to see if there is an issue as to where you left your vehicle.

Other local parking ordinances that are in place which apply to parking on private property are:

  • You may not park vehicles in your front yard. If not in a garage, they must be on a paved driveway surface.

  • A vehicle parked in your driveway must not block any part of the public sidewalk.

  •  You may not occupy a camping trailer or RV on any street or right-of-way. The City Zoning code prohibits living in a camper on private property. 

Municipal Code, Chapter 15, Article III - Stopping, Standing, and Parking Generally

Public Areas

These are areas that are owned by government entities, which can include city streets, publicly owned parking lots, parks, etc.

Publicly owned areas are generally properly signed and clearly indicate what is or is not allowed as it relates to parking.  Normally at least one sign is displayed on each city block where parking restrictions are in place.

However, every community has local ordinances that further regulate parking in public areas where signs are not posted, but the citizen must simply be aware of the local customs.  The reason signs are not posted is that signs simply cannot be placed everywhere the ordinance applies due to cost and sign clutter.

As an example, the following parking regulations do not have signage, but certainly must be followed:
  • No parking within 15 feet of a fire hydrant or in a marked fire lane whether on public or private property.
  • No parking in an area where the curb is painted yellow.
  • No vehicle can be left in the same place on a public street or public parking lot for more than 48 hours.
  • Detached trailers (including boats, campers, or utility trailers) and trucks (one-ton or larger), may not be left parked on a public road or lot for more than 2 hours.
  • You must park on the right-hand side of the street, within 12 inches of the curb.
  • You cannot park blocking driveways or mailboxes or where signs prohibit you while on public property.
  • You may not park a vehicle on public property just to advertise it for sale.
  • In the downtown area vehicles must be moved to a different block every 2 hours during business days.
  • No vehicle of any kind shall be left standing or double-parked at any time or place, except vehicles may be double-parked for the purpose of taking on or discharging passengers, only for a sufficient length of time to enable the passengers to enter or to remove themselves from the vehicle, after which the vehicle shall immediately proceed. 

Municipal Code, Chapter 15, Article III - Stopping, Standing, and Parking Generally

Rules for off-street parking in residential areas on or in front of residential property:

  • Parking in the front yard, immediately in front of the home and directly in front of the front door, is not permitted by the Zoning Ordinance.
  • Parking of licensed operable vehicles is permissible in the garage, driveway, or rear yard a minimum of 5 feet from all property lines.

Towed Vehicles & Impound Lot

There are a variety of reasons as to why your vehicle may be in the Willmar Police impound lot; accident, snowbird, arrest, evidence, blocking traffic, parking tickets, abandoned, safekeeping, and more.

In all situations, except when the vehicle was towed for evidentiary purposes, the vehicle owner must pay for both the tow fee and any applicable storage fees prior to the vehicle being released from the impound lot.  There are certain rules citizens should be aware of that apply to impounded vehicles and the property contained therein.

Obtaining Personal Property


Personal property release guidelines:

  1. The registered owner states in writing, with his/her signature notarized, that someone else can pick up the property.  The registered owner must be specific as to what property can be released and to whom the property can be released.
  2. An individual can demonstrate a specific item within the vehicle (examples: book bag, purse, or similar object) belongs to him/her as it contains his/her name or other documentation with his/her name on it.
  3. Vehicle parts (spare tires, batteries, or other vehicle parts) will not be released individually or be allowed to be swapped out by an owner on any vehicle unless approval (in writing) is obtained from the insurance company covering the vehicle.
  4. Add-on accessory items (radios, speaker systems, etc.) that are fastened in some manner to the vehicle will not be released from any vehicle unless approval (in writing) is obtained from the insurance company covering the vehicle.


Each spring the City of Willmar holds a Vehicle and Property Auction. The Auction generally takes place in May, usually around the middle of the month. The Auction is located at the City Impound Lot, 801 Industrial Drive, next to the Public Works Department. View the City Calendar for a schedule of the event.