Like it or not, tickets and towing are a necessary evil of downtown parking.
But Jon Rouse, general manager of Park Cedar Rapids, said on Tuesday that the courtesy notices - so-called “whoops tickets” - they sometimes issue are an effort to be a little friendlier to their customers.
“There’s more and more visitors coming into downtown, and they may or may not have interacted with this kind of technology before,” Rouse explained.
He’s referring to the electronic parking meters that went up in 2011. His department started using the courtesy notices around the same time, for drivers who may be first-time offenders.
“If we notice that they’re not in our system, maybe they were intimidated by the technology or maybe they didn’t quite understand how it worked.”
Park Cedar Rapids also uses what they call “monster notices,” given to towable vehicles. Rouse said those have saved a lot of people a trip to the impound.
“We do send out notifications through the mail, but sometimes we like to provide an additional reminder to come into our office and pay outstanding citations,” Rouse told us.
Understandably, Rouse said his department has gotten some good feedback about these warnings.
“We’ve had a lot of people come into our office and say, ‘thank you for providing this, I didn’t understand how the system worked,’ and that allows us the additional opportunity to educate them about the system,” Rouse explained.
Nancy Bode, who lives in Benton County but works in downtown, especially likes the “whoops tickets.”
“You know if you’re from out of town and you don’t know the parking system, you don’t quite know what you’re doing, they give you a little leeway, that’s not so bad,” Bode said. “That’s actually pretty nice of them.”
But others we spoke with say warnings or no warnings, the electronic system is still too complicated for some people, especially the less tech-savvy.
“For our older generation, because we are in Cedar Rapids, I really think the coin-operated machines that are right next to the stalls would be our best option,” said Will Welsh of Cedar Rapids. “The way it is right now and the way it’s set up, they’re just hindering people from coming downtown, because nobody really wants to mess with the parking system.”
Park Cedar Rapids have issued the following numbers of courtesy notices since 2011: 163 in 2011; 857 in 2012; 1,662 in 2013; 382 in 2014.