Parking changes coming to College Hill

COURTESY PHOTO/College Hill Partnership
Recently-installed signage and pay stations on College Hill, which will be used for the soon-to-be-implemented new parking system.

ELIZABETH KELSEY, News Editor

In the next few months, parking options on College Hill will shift, affecting students and patrons of College Hill businesses.

Currently, the 22nd Street West parking lot, or Lot G — located behind Sidecar Coffee and Octopus Bar — is a two-hour parking lot where anyone may park free of charge for up to two hours. In the coming months, that policy will change, and all who wish to use the lot between the hours of 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday will be required to pay 50 cents per hour, with a $3 daily maximum rate.

The other parking lot on College Hill, Lot J (located behind Little Bigs and Social House), is currently a metered parking lot. In the coming months, it will shift to follow the same fee structure as Lot G.

Patrons will be able to pay at a physical pay station or by using a new mobile payment app called Park Smarter, distinct from the UNI parking app. This will be a pay-by-plate system, so patrons will need to know their license plate number. The meters in Lot J will no longer be used.

By eliminating free two-hour parking in Lot G, standardizing the system between the two lots and lengthening the enforcement period (which previously ended at 5 p.m. rather than 6 p.m.), the College Hill Partnership and the city of Cedar Falls hope to meet the needs of students, residents and businesspeople who need access to parking on College Hill.

An increase in residential buildings in the College Hill area, such as the new arrival of Urban Flats, has shifted the demographic of those seeking parking in the area, according to Kathryn Sogard, director of the College Hill Partnership. She said that the goal of the change in parking policy is to encourage people to use the College Hill lots when visiting College Hill businesses.

“The concern was that with the additional space for residential, there wouldn’t be enough parking for all the commercial [facilities],” Sogard said. “The hope was to just encourage people to park when using College Hill for the businesses, and […] help people utilize the College Hill business as best as possible.”

The parking changes came at the recommendation of a parking study conducted by the Partnership, the City of Cedar Falls and UNI in March 2019. The study, performed by national consulting firm WGI, included an online survey, data collection and stakeholder meetings. The public also had a chance to offer input at a May 2019 workshop. Based on the study and public opinion, the College Hill Partnership proposed the above changes to the current parking system, which were approved by the Cedar Falls City Council in early 2020.

Sogard said that the Partnership isn’t yet sure when the changes will be implemented, but the new pay stations and signage are already being installed on College Hill. Students and community members can stay updated on parking announcements by visiting www.cedarfalls.com/List.aspx and signing up for the Parking Updates email list.

The changes will affect students who use the free Lot G to park during class hours, especially because, as Sogard acknowledged, the College Hill lots are the closest lots to Lang Hall which are not A lots. However, she noted that there is university parking available in the UNI Bookstore parking lot, and students will still be able to park in the College Hill lots provided they pay the fee.

She emphasized that the changes are designed to make sure that those who want to patronize the College Hill businesses are able to do so and can access the buildings that they need.

“It’ll also help encourage people to park a little more spread out, as opposed to the metered lot being empty and everybody parking in the other lot,” Sogard said. “It should be more evenly distributed so that when you’re going over to, say, Icon [Donuts], and you can’t find a spot and you have to park on the other side, it’ll help spread people out and also allow people to access the buildings a little bit easier.”

For all parking updates and to download and learn how to use the Park Smarter app, visit www.cedarfalls.com/443/Parking and click on the College Hill Parking Tab on the left-hand menu.