Iowa City Stories

April 1, 2010

Iowa City, IA – the city of parking citations

Filed under: Local Issues — hydeikim @ 1:45 pm

The culture in Iowa City is filled with great people, mouth-watering food and fantastic entertainment. Being the home of the University of Iowa, this city attracts many individuals from across the nation, which means parking is crucial to the town. Unfortunately, Iowa City is aware that parking is an important factor to the city and parking citations and towing are taken advantage of leaving students, parents, and tourists unhappy.

Students and citations

Many students chose to live off campus causing their trip to campus longer than others, which is why most tend to drive to save a lot of time yet others stick to walking because they don’t want to deal with tickets.

For example, I was running late for work so I decided to drive. Assuming the main library parking lot was for the public, I assumed wrong. About four hours later when I was done with my shift, I see a parking ticket tucked into the windshield wiper for $15.00.

I read the ticket thoroughly and read that it gave you an opportunity to appeal it but why should anyone be ticketed in a public parking lot?

Kerry McGurn, a junior at the University of Iowa, currently has a car at school and doesn’t find herself driving to class anymore from the outstanding amounts of tickets she has received from the university.

At the beginning of the semester, McGurn drove to Carver Arena to pick up her football tickets for the season. As she was walking to her car, she saw a man writing her a ticket and politely asked to get out of it but he declined.

“I just think that if you’re two minutes late, you shouldn’t get a parking ticket. It’s a little extreme.”

But where do we draw the line?

“I know you need to be there on time but I was literally walking to my car, a minute past the meter, and he handed me the ticket. They’re just psycho about parking here.”

Junior at the University of Iowa, Kyle Thomann, experienced the same incident as McGurn. It would be a plausible for Thomann to drive to his classes but he chooses not to because he “doesn’t mind the walk plus it saves money.”

In Iowa City, you’re either paying in the parking ramps, in public parking lots or meters so parking within the city can really hurt your wallet.

Pay to park in Iowa City

Because the University of Iowa is in the heart of Iowa City, people usually forget there are those who aren’t affiliated with the university and go about their daily lives living in Iowa City. Nonetheless, it doesn’t matter if you are a student or a parent; we all face the same consequences.

Chauncey Swan Ramp on Washington Street in Iowa City

Iowa City has several parking garages for those who do not want to continuously pay their meter throughout the day. Some parking garages charge you $0.75/hour while the other ones are $0.15 cents cheaper at $0.60/hour.

On the Iowa City website, it lists 10 parking violations, leaving you with yet another ticket.

Iowa City has a different approach with parking violations. If you receive a ticket from the University of Iowa, it is usually priced accordingly to the violation, where as in Iowa City, the more tickets you receive, the fee increases. The first ticket is a simple warning but as the offenses continue, the citation raises by increments of $5.00. If an individual vehicle reaches up to nine or more offenses, the ticket is stamped at $25.00.

Towing takes a toll

Katlyn Scheeler finds herself constantly paying parking tickets and picking up her Jeep Cherokee from the pound.

Katlyn Scheeler pays a meter to avoid tickets.

Scheeler has paid over 10 parking tickets ranging from $5.00 to $25.00 from Iowa City but “after the ninth ticket, the increments remained the same at $25.00.”

Over the winter, Scheeler parked her car on Dodge St. so she wouldn’t have to worry about parking tickets from the University of Iowa and/or Iowa City, in general. She then had to run some errands and went back to Dodge St. to no longer find her car where she parked it.

Without warning or notice from the city, she immediately went to the Iowa City Police Department to find out her car had been towed due to the recent snowfall. She had to pay an initial fee of $75.00 for the tow charge, plus an additional $15.00 for every day the car was spent in the pound.

“If I knew they towed cars after a snowfall, then I would have immediately moved my car. I didn’t know. No one told me that my car was even towed. I just think it’s unfair. I had to pay tow charges and a ticket,” Scheeler responded.

Pay the ticket or pay the price

Most students, like myself, prefer to buy parking spots with their landlords. I found that paying $985.00 for my yearly lease would be at my convenience and peace of mind, rather than continuously putting money in meters and/or paying fines.

After receiving numerous amounts of tickets, McGurn finally settled to paying close to $1,200/year for a parking spot that isn’t even in her building. Parking in Iowa City is something everyone has to worry about so some are willing to cash out more than a thousand dollars out of their pockets to save themselves the stress of parking on the streets.

“I just didn’t want to have to keep worrying about paying meters at the given times and having to always move my car on ‘even/odd’ days out of the calendar. I’d rather pay what I pay now, then having to keep stressing myself out and wasting my time paying parking tickets. It was either a matter of money or time”

Even apartment buildings charge their tenants close to a grand for yearly parking. Luckily, McGurn and I have underground parking, making winters not so brutal for our cars but apartment complexes like the Pentacrest Apartments are not so lucky having outdoor parking.

Here, on Linn St., are empty parking spots because others would rather walk than worry about paying to park

Walking and parking

In general, Iowa City is a city too beautiful to ignore but parking in this city can cause serious headaches. I personally believe students and citizens prefer to walk everywhere because 1. it’s good exercise and 2. there are no tickets to worry about, right?

When my friends and family came to visit, parking is always such a burden to their visit. Yes, this popular city is doing a great job receiving money from tourists and citizens of the city with multiple parking ramps and parking spots but sometimes, tickets and tows can really take away from the experience of this beautiful city.

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