Lingering worries over past Bijou censorship


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Finding a parking spot on campus is a precious gift. But the joy of finding your beloved parking spot turns to shambles when your pockets come up empty of change. Or when you are so in tuned to a life-changing lecture that you forget to run to the meter to deposit another set of quarters — just to find out an hour later that you have a parking ticket. And because your lecture was at Van Allen, this is an Iowa City parking ticket and it’s worth $20 instead of $7. UI Parking and Transportation recently presented a proposal to increase parking-meter rates, but it might be even more helpful to standardize rates.

Meter rates need to be consistent across the board. It is ludicrous to pay one rate at the library, another in front of Burge, and then another at the IMU. Some make that argument that this is the case because the monies from different locations go towards location-specific projects, but this is not true; all the earnings are lumped together and allocated toward general projects. Knowing that rates are the same everywhere makes it easier to pay and balance study time with meter-feeding time.

Even better, the UI and city should come to an agreement on meter rates, even if those agreements only involve meters surrounding campus buildings, such as those around Van Allen and in front of the Pentacrest.

The maximum time and time-to-money ratio of meters should be consistent, too. Some meters allow you four hours, while others only give you a half hour. It’s understandable that meters in front of the post office are restricted to 30 minutes, but the Social Security office is located in the same building.

I’m not going to give up my spot in line, break from lecture, or lose my spot at the coffee shop just to put an extra dime in the meter and still get a ticket — all because I forgot that location had a time restriction different from 10 spots down. Standardization of meter rates and time limits is practical and necessary.

— Emily Inman


Before I get to the real meat of my argument, let’s make one thing clear. It’s hard to muster up a valid counterargument against the most troublesome consideration offered by parking-meter-consistency advocates: Signs are hard to read. It’s just so true. But for the sake of the argument, let’s pretend that a vast majority of motorists in our area are literate beyond a third-grade level.

The basic guideline behind all the alarmingly mind-boggling parking space inconsistency seems to be this: The more desirable a parking spot, the less time you’re allowed to hog it.

In the city and on the UI campus, a spot with a 30-minute parking limit does not serve the same function as one with an eight-hour limit. The ones with the longer maximums tend to be in residential areas, making it possible for people to visit their friends and family without nervously checking their watches every 10 minutes. The ones with shorter limitations encourage turnover, particularly favoring businesses and out-of-towners with a hefty hankering for Chipotle (nobody wants to walk a half-mile for a burrito bowl; Chinese would be preferable).

If you’re a downtown business owner, you don’t want somebody parking in front of your place, walking in, asking for a cup of water, and then leaving the car there for three hours. You want as many people to have a chance at that parking space as possible. If you’re the university, you want to allow students enough time to sit through lectures without interrupting their nap because of unnecessarily short-term parking worries.

And what, exactly, are we looking to gain by having universal parking meter limitations? The convenience of not having to read signs? Each meter’s time limit has reasoning behind it, and it’s usually to our benefit. In this case, standardization is oversimplification: Time limits and meter rates vary reasonably across the university.

— Chris Steinke

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