Newstrack: Cedar Rapids parking meter rules not yet plugged

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Cedar Rapids officials conceded in June that parking ordinances, some of which date to the 1970s, needed to be updated to reflect the practices of Park Cedar Rapids, the city’s private parking contractor.

This admission came several years after Bob Teig, a Cedar Rapids resident and retired assistant U.S. attorney, alerted the city about its outdated code, which he did not think was enforceable.

Teig first wrote to City Attorney Jim Flitz in April 2013, suggesting the code be tweaked because a section on parking meters did not seem to pertain to numbered parking spaces controlled by LUKE payment kiosks, installed in 2011.

The code says parking meters must be adjacent to their corresponding parking spaces and must have timing mechanisms to show how much time is left before the meter expires.

In May 2014, Teig wrote to Mayor Ron Corbett and members of the City Council about his ongoing concerns over the definition of parking meters and hourly meter parking rates. The code says rates at downtown meters are 90 cents an hour. But if you park in a downtown loop spot now, you’ll pay $1 an hour.

The parking agency also increased parking fines Jan. 1, raising the expired meter penalty from $7.50 to $10 and fining drivers who overstay meters with time limits — even if they keep paying the meter — $15. The changes are not reflected in the City Code, which says “meter violations shall be cited at $7.50 for the first violation.”

What’s happened since

Jon Rouse, Park CR general manager, said last week he met with employees from the City Attorney’s Office soon after The Gazette article appeared to talk about changing the code.

“I sat down with city officials and talked about the process and then we submitted some language.”

Proposed code changes include updating fine amounts, tweaking definitions and defining enforcement strategy. “It was a fairly comprehensive review,” Rouse said.

City spokeswoman Maria Johnson said the city attorney has reviewed Rouse’s proposed changes and planned to get revisions back to him this weekend.

“While they anticipate some changes to the language, they do not believe the substantive content Jon proposed will change significantly,” Johnson said.

Rouse said the proposed changes could come before the council before the end of the year. Amending the code requires three considerations and sometimes a public hearing.

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