College Hill parking changes arrive

The parking lot behind Sidecar Coffee and Octopus Bar, previosly a free two-hour lot, now is one of two lots in the College Hill area which requires a fee of $.50 per hour. Changes to College Hill parking went into effect Oct. 1.

ELIZABETH KELSEY and DARIEN GORDON

After 18 months of discussion and anticipation, parking changes, including the addition of paid parking options, have finally arrived on College Hill.

As of Thursday, Oct. 1, parking in the 22nd Street W. Lot, located behind Sidecar Coffee and Octopus Bar, and the 22nd Street E-S Lot, located behind Little Bigs and Social House, requires a $.50 hourly fee (with a $3-per day maximum) between the hours of 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Previously, the 22nd Street W. Lot had been a two-hour free parking lot, while the 22nd Street E-S Lot had been a metered lot. Now, both lots follow the same pay-per-plate fee structure using “smart” parking payment options. According to a Sept. 18 press release from the City of Cedar Falls, users may either pay using the available pay stations or a free mobile app called Park Smarter. The app allows users to extend parking hours from their phone.

Free 15 minute, one hour and two hour parking options continue to be available in the College Hill area; all street parking and some smaller lots will remain free. Some of these lots will allow for overnight parking with a maximum time limit of 24 hours.

The update follows a parking survey that was conducted by the College Hill Partnership, the City of Cedar Falls and UNI in 2019. National consulting firm WGI conducted surveys, took parking counts several times a day to assess the need for parking, interviewed individual stakeholders and held a public meeting to solicit opinion on parking changes for both downtown Cedar Falls and the College Hill district.

After WGI conducted their research of the area, they took the recommendations to the Cedar Falls City Council. The council approved the recommendations for downtown Cedar Falls on Feb. 18, 2019 and for College Hill on Aug. 5, 2019.

The College Hill Partnership and the City began preparing for the changes in Feb. 2020, but implemention was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Oct. 1, the changes are in effect.

The goal of the shift to paid parking options on College Hill was “to allow for flexible, longer-term parking options for visitors to the area,” according to the press release.

Kathryn Sogard, the executive director for the College Hill Partnership, said, “We know that change takes a little time to adapt to, but we trust the data, and the public input that was provided to the consultants and City Council that spurred these changes.”

She said the parking fee will go towards improving the parking lots and to pay city employees to monitor the lots.

For more information on College Hill parking options, including a map of paid and free parking areas, visit http://www.cedarfalls.com/1493/College-Hill-Parking.