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Parking tickets fall as fast as snow

BY MARLEEN LINARES | DECEMBER 11, 2009 7:30 AM

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When UI junior Amanda Seaquist went to get her car Thursday morning, she had a surprise waiting for her: an empty parking spot.

“There were no other cars on the street, so I figured my car got towed,” she said.

Seaquist’s car fell victim to the city’s new snow-emergency policy, which puts restrictions on what side of the street cars can be parked on during a winter storm. The tow cost her $175.

The city gave out 167 tickets and towed 126 cars on Wednesday after the first winter storm of the season hit.

Seaquist said she didn’t know about the new towing policy, which the city first enacted last winter.

“I wish there was more of a warning,” Seaquist said.

Kirkwood junior Alex Brinker, who watched his car ride away on the back of a tow truck as he was making dinner Thursday evening, also said he didn’t understand the policy.

“I was not very happy,” he said.

After trying the new rule for the first time last winter, officials increased the fine for violating the snow emergency from $15 to $50, the amount needed to tow a car, said Rick Fosse, the Iowa City public-works director.



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During a snow emergency, on streets that normally have odd-even parking, the usual evening and Sunday exemptions no longer apply. On streets that allow parking on one side of the street only, parking is allowed on even dates if that side is the even side, odd dates if that side is the odd side. On streets that allow parking on both sides, odd-even parking takes effect.

City officials said they have done their best to inform the public, sending releases to local media and putting notifications on the city website.

Fosse said the idea of the policy surfaced after parked cars made it difficult to plow the streets last winter.

“It was becoming impossible to keep the streets clean,” he said.

Many surrounding communities already had the snow emergency restrictions in place, Fosse said, though Iowa City’s student population adds unique challenges.

“Students are not driving to work every day, so that makes for a lot of cars being in the streets,” he said.

Fosse said though the policy is beneficial, it has its disadvantages.

“It does slow us down quite a bit in getting complete coverage of the city,” he said. “However, the end product is much better.”

He said this improved quality of snow removal has contributed to the overall positive response from the public on the policy.


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