Parking: Frequently Asked Questions



 How do I pay a parking citation?

There are several ways you can pay your parking ticket. 

  1. In person: stop at the Clerk/Finance Suite at City Hall between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm, Monday-Friday.
  2. Dropbox: Drop off your payment in one of our two locked drop boxes (one in the parking lot, one in the building next to the east side entrance). Include a copy of your citation with the payment, or clearly list the citation # on the envelope or check. If you would like a receipt, you must include a self-addressed stamped envelope with your payment.
  3. Online: A convenience fee of 2.95% will be charged.

 How do I appeal a parking citation?

To appeal a parking citation, you can complete a parking contest form online within 10 days of receiving your citation. Click here for the Parking Contest Form.


Once submitted, your parking ticket will be put on hold pending our investigation. It may take three (3) weeks to receive a response to an appeal, and the response will be sent by email or mail. If you pay your parking ticket before your appeal is resolved, your appeal will be considered withdrawn.

 Can I appeal a parking citation in person?

Yes, if you do not wish to appeal online, you may pick up a paper copy of the form in the Clerk’s Suite at City Hall.

 What happens if I don't pay my parking citation on time?

Late fees are added to a citation if it is not either paid or contested within 10 days. After 10 days, the citation increases by $10, and notice of the increase will be sent by mail. After 25 days, it increases $10 more, and another notice will be sent by mail.  If the citation still remains unpaid 20 days after the second increase (i.e. 45 days after the original citation is issued), the registration of the vehicle will become suspended until the citation is paid.  There may be additional fees associated with the DMV removing the suspension. 


More information on reinstatement can be found on the Wisconsin DOT’s website here.

 I am not from Onalaska; how am I supposed to know the parking regulations?

Most parking regulations for the City of Onalaska are adopted from Wisconsin State Statute and are therefore the same across the State of Wisconsin. You can access the parking regulations for the City of Onalaska 24 hours per day on this website and by viewing our Ordinances here


It is the responsibility of every motor vehicle operator to know and understand all laws and ordinances that pertain to parking. This is a responsibility that a driver assumes when receiving a driver’s license. Lack of knowledge does not exempt anyone from a citation.



 Does the City of Onalaska have "Alternate Side Parking"?

Yes, the City of Onalaska does enforce Alternate Side Parking from December 1 to March 15 on all City streets (Ordinance 10.01.31.E). See the full ordinance here.


Violation of this ordinance will result in a $15 parking ticket.

 When is Alternate Side Parking Enforced?

Alternate Side Parking is enforced between 1:00 am and 8:00 am from December 1 to March 15 every year. Vehicles shall be parked only on even-numbered sides of the streets on those dates with an even calendar date and on odd-numbered sides of the streets on those dates with an odd calendar date.


Keep in mind that the odd/even requirement pertains to the time period of 1:00 am to 8:00 am. If you park your vehicle on the street in the evening intending that it will be parked overnight, make sure it is on the appropriate odd/even-numbered side of the street for the time period 1:00 am to 8:00 am.


Example: On December 1st between 1:00 am and 8:00 am, your vehicle must be parked on the ODD side of the road.

On December 2nd between 1:00 am and 8:00 am, your vehicle must be parked on the EVEN side of the road.

 Why did I receive an Alternate Side Parking ticket when it didn't even snow?

The purpose of this regulation is to allow access by plows when it does snow. Tickets are issued consistently throughout the winter to ensure compliance on those nights when it is needed for snow clearing. It also allows for street work or sweeping on days when there is no snow.

 Why did my vehicle receive a ticket when others around me did not?

There are a variety of reasons why this may have occurred:

  •   The owner of another vehicle may have already removed the ticket.
  •   The vehicles around yours may not have been parked there when the officer came through.
  •   Officers may begin issuing parking tickets in an area and then get called away before being able to ticket other vehicles in violation in that area.

 I live on a cul-de-sac. Where am I allowed to park when Alternate Side Parking is in effect?

You may park in the curved portion of the cul-de-sac regardless of whether Alternate Side Parking rules are in effect.  However, parking within the cul-de-sac, as with any other street, is still limited to a max of 24 hours in one spot (Ord. 10.01.31.A).  Alternate Side Parking rules are in effect for the straight portion of the road leading up to the cul-de-sac. 

 I live on a street where one side is permanently no parking. What do I do?

Where parking is prohibited on one side of the street for an entire block or more directly across from a residence or building, vehicles may be parked on the permitted side nightly.  This exception does not include corner properties.  

 There are no house numbers in this area! Where can I park?

In the City of Onalaska, house numbers on the north side of the street are odd and house numbers on the south side of the street are even.  


When you are north of Main Street, the house numbers on the west of the street are odd, and the east side of the street is even.


When you are south of Main Street, the house numbers on the east side of the street are odd, and the west side of the street is even.


In areas where there are no house numbers on either side of the block, refer to the explanation above, or see the chart below:


North of Main Street


“Odd side”

“Even side”

Streets running north/south

West side of street

East side of street

Streets running east/west

North side of street

South side of street


South of Main Street


“Odd side”

“Even side”

Streets running north/south

East side of street

West side of street

Streets running east/west

North side of street

South side of street


*There may be some anomalies with certain areas. If you receive a citation that you believe is inaccurate, complete the parking contest form as indicated above.


 I have parked in the same spot before and didn’t receive a ticket; why did I receive a ticket now?

Although the Onalaska Police Department attempts to enforce all parking violations, it is not possible for all areas of the City to be monitored at all times due to staffing levels and call volume. Certain areas of the City are monitored more closely due to citizen complaints. Simply because you have not received a ticket before does not mean you are not in violation.

 I sold my vehicle and did not remove the license plates, and now I am receiving notice of parking tickets for my former vehicle. What can I do?

In Wisconsin the seller of a vehicle is responsible for removing the vehicle’s license plates before selling the vehicle to another individual. You are responsible for contacting the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to clear up this matter. The Onalaska Police Department does not have the ability to remedy issues involving vehicle title and registration.

 I just purchased a vehicle and the previous owners left their plates on the vehicle. What do I do?

Remove the plates and turn them in to the DMV.  If the old plates are left on, you could be issued a citation for non-registration of vehicle.

 What are the legal parking distances from crosswalks, driveways, fire hydrants, and other vehicles?

State Statute requires all vehicles park no closer than 15 feet from a crosswalk, 4 feet from a driveway unless otherwise indicated by a sign, 10 feet from a fire hydrant unless otherwise indicated by a sign, or 2 feet from the front or back of other vehicles.

 Do we have to follow the driveway/crosswalk distance laws if there is no yellow paint on the curb?


 Is it illegal to park in front of a mailbox?

It is not illegal to park in front of a mailbox; however, vehicles may not park within 4 feet from a driveway, which oftentimes is where mailboxes are positioned.  As a courtesy to others, citizens are encouraged to not park in front of mailboxes.

 When is a posted private parking lot enforced?

The property owner or designee of a privately posted parking lot may contact a towing service directly to have an illegally parked vehicle removed.


Private lots not posted can still be ticketed and towed.  Drivers should verify they are allowed to park in the private lot before leaving their vehicle.

 How long can a vehicle or trailer be parked on residential streets?

The limit for parking on City streets is 24 hours (Ord. 10.01.31.A). This ordinance includes automobiles, trucks, tractors, trailer or vehicles of any description. Signs are posted in areas where parking times are reduced.

 I’m an Over-The-Road truck driver. Can I park my semi on the street?

Per City of Onalaska Ordinance 10.01.36.A, trucks and trailers exceeding 12,000 pounds or over 18 feet in length may not park on any City street or highway for more than two hours, whether consecutive or not, in any 24-hour period. See the full Ordinance here. We recommend contacting a local business to see if they will allow parking in their lot.

 What about RV’s or moving trailers?

See above. These may only be parked on the street for loading and unloading, for a maximum of 2 hours in any given 24-hour period. If seeking an exception to this rule, call Dispatch and speak with an Officer by calling: (608) 782-7575.  Exceptions are allowed on a case by case basis.

 Who do I contact if an abandoned vehicle is parked on my street, or if there is another parking problem on my residential street?

Call the Onalaska Police Department’s non-emergency phone number at: (608) 782-7575.

 Who enforces parking violations in the City of Onalaska?

The Onalaska Police Department monitors and patrols parking in Onalaska. Any citations issued are referred to the Joint Municipal Court at City Hall in Onalaska.

 Can I park on my own lawn?

Per Ordinance No. 12.01.41.A.2, vehicles and trailers under 25 feet in length (not including trailer tongue) not required by the State of Wisconsin to be licensed or registered, including cargo trailers, travel trailers, boats, and other such items, as well as registered and licensed vehicles and trailers used for recreational purposes, including snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, shall not be parked on front yards (excluding corner properties) unless parked on a driveway or an approved hard surface. Such vehicles if parked in the driveway shall not extend over a public sidewalk and/or City right-of-way. Such vehicles/trailers may be parked in rear and side yards on grassed areas.

 Why did I receive a ticket for parking in the Onalaska High School Lot?

If you’re a student:

If you have a valid parking permit, but failed to display it, or it is not visible, you will receive a ticket. It is your responsibility to make sure the permit is visible when parked in the lot.  Dismissals will not be given for this reason.


If you have a valid reason for appeal and would like to contest the citation, you can do so by the normal practice explained above. Click here for the Parking Contest Form.


If you’re a volunteer, coach or visitor:

Contact the school office and make them aware of the citation, then fill out the Parking Contest Form online. Once the City receives your appeal, we will contact the school to confirm the circumstances of the citation.


For more information on parking related ordinances, please view City of Onalaska Ordinances

10.01.31 - 10.01.39 (Parking Regulations)

12.01.41 (Vehicles)