University of Iowa students face towing, impounding because of snow removal

Despite warmer temperatures in the foreseeable future, city plows are still clearing and treating streets in downtown Iowa City, causing many students’ vehicles to be towed and impounded.


Katie Goodale

Iowa City is seen on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019.

Claire Benson, News Reporter

With the past several weeks bringing unusual snow, freezing temperatures, and now ice, city plows have been preoccupied with treating and clearing Iowa City streets, leading to students’ vehicles that haven’t been moved to be towed or impounded.

City plows are scheduled to go through a portion of downtown Iowa City beginning at 7 a.m. on both Feb. 25 and 26, according to a release from the city. If necessary, the city will tow vehicles on parts of Iowa, Jefferson, College, Washington, Prentiss, Dubuque, and Clinton streets.

The city posted ‘No Parking Due to Maintenance’ signs on these streets beginning Feb. 22, with towing beginning at 2 a.m. on Feb. 23.

The neighborhoods that crews are set to plow contain several housing units close to campus, which makes them popular places for University of Iowa students to live.

The city advised in an email that UI students should take note and seek alternative parking during this time, but several students woke up on Feb. 23 to find their vehicles missing from their prior parking space.

UI first-year student Jillian Lang had her car towed and impounded on Feb. 23, the first day towing occurred to prepare for the upcoming plow crews to go through.

Lang said she noticed Prentiss Street and Linn Street, which are usually lined with students’ vehicles, were bare, from students either moving their vehicles or having them towed as well.

“I woke up and I was really confused,” Lang said. “I called a few different towing companies and then had to call the police department, who then told me they had my car.”

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Lang said the process of paying the citations and retrieving her car was rather difficult and expensive.

“It was obviously scary and inconvenient,” Lang said. “I had to walk to the police station to pay my citations, and then I had to call an Uber to go to the impound lot, and it was almost $30 on top of those other fees. They charge an extra $45 a day for keeping your car there, and I think that got towed the night before, so, those extra $45 on top of the fine for the day really added up.”

Lang said the ordeal cost her close to $300, which she was not expecting to pay.

She added that in the future, she would find it beneficial for the city to post signage about street clearing sooner or have the university email students living in the area about this potential issue.

“I just wish they would have put out signs like on the roads earlier, so I would have been aware,” Lang said. “Maybe if the university sent out an email that would have been nice, I think more than a 24-hour notice would have been helpful.”

UI second-year student Doug Burtch said his car was towed and impounded in December off of Bowery Street as well.

Burtch has lived in Iowa City his whole life, and he said he recognizes that the city makes an effort to ensure the upkeep of streets. However, he said he thinks the plows can neglect certain areas and provide unnecessary attention to others.

The city advises if a person’s vehicle is towed, they should call the Parking Division at 319-356-5151 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. After hours people should call the Iowa City Police Department’s routine line at 319-356-5275 — not call 911.