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City action may increase tows, rates

BY CHRIS CLARK | JUNE 17, 2009 7:20 AM

People parking in city garages may have to reach deeper into their pockets.

The Iowa City City Council approved a number of amendments to different parking ordinances at its meeting Tuesday. The changes were mainly focused on the city’s towing operations, but the council raised monthly rates for all parking garages.

The council expedited the ordinances so they would go into effect in the upcoming fiscal year.
Before the ordinance was changed, cars exceeding the towing threshold — five or more outstanding infractions or more than $50 in fines — could be towed if the car was found in violation. Now, any car over the threshold can be towed from anywhere — even if spotted while in compliance.

Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsay said the changes would raise the city’s towing numbers. Typically, these rates increase with special events in the city, the beginning of fall semester at the UI, and during football season, Kelsay said.

Big 10 University Towing, 3309 Highway 1, is responsible for hauling away violators under a 2008 contract between the company and the city.

Councilor Mike Wright said the council’s decision was not motivated by possible financial benefits but by its desire to keep parking spots open and clean up holes in the ordinances’ wording.

Any parking violation counts toward the new towing threshold. Under another amendment passed Tuesday night, ramp charges and vehicle-unlock fees now count toward the limit.

“We have noticed a lot of cars essentially being stored in the ramps,” Wright said. “These changes are mostly just to warn people, to say ‘Hey, we’re paying attention.’ ”

And those who leave their cars in garages can no longer keep them there for 72 hours maximum. The council also reduced the time limit to 24 hours.

Parking rates at city ramps will increase starting July 1.

Parking will cost $80 per month at Capitol Street, Dubuque Street, and Tower Place parking facilities. Rates at the Chauncey Swan and Court Street garages will increase to $70 per month and then to $80 July 1, 2010.


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