We Demand Transparency From University Parking

Mark Laluan

A vehicle parked in two spots at the Hayward campus received a ticket for $49. However, finding out where that $49 will go to is a little less straightforward. The increased fees and tickets were initially going to pay for a new parking structure, whose construction has now been delayed.

The simple attempt of trying to find reliable information regarding University Parking funds encapsulates widespread student frustration with parking services.

With the quarterly automobile permit costs rising and the parking structure the increased fee was supposed to pay for in limbo due to an environmental lawsuit, the average student commuter is up in arms.

Back in 2006, the parking fee stood at $42 per quarter for automobiles, with 4,200 parking spaces available on campus.

Flash forward six years to 2012 and the parking fee has risen to $130 per quarter for automobiles, with the number of available parking spaces stagnant at 4,200 spots.

In 2009, plans were underway to build a parking structure to add 1,200 parking spaces. This plan quickly came under fire as the campus community began to question the wisdom of building a parking structure directly on the Hayward Fault.

In spite of the delay in construction, parking fees have continued to rise and ticketing for parking violations has risen to new levels of Byzantine complexity. The average price of these tickets is $49.00 for most violations.

However, what is truly troubling is that the process behind pricing such violations is unavailable to the average student browsing the University Parking Services (UPS) website. The legalese found in the “Parking Policies” section is little comfort to a campus population already stretched to the brink due to budget cuts.

University Parking Services by Education Code Section 90068 is required to be self-funding through a “Parking Fund” and this has been used in the past to justify the expansion of UPS in the past.

However, given that construction of the parking complex is stalled, we raise the legitimate concern of where our parking permit fees and parking fines then are going.

There is no easily accessible documentation provided on the UPS website detailing how much money in parking fees and parking fines are taken in during each quarter, much less each school year.

We advocate that the university take steps to assuage campus opinion on parking by making it clear where parking monies are going.

The most easily accessible information on the state of the “Parking Fund” comes from a document circulated during the search for a new President of CSUEB in 2005. A brief listing of CSUEB’s “2005/06 Budgeted Appropriations/Revenues” shows the parking fund at $1,770,195.

We can only assume this amount has grown exponentially since 2005 given the increase in parking fees and parking fines levied for citations.

We strongly suggest that the university administration provide a full, easily accessible account of what the “Parking Fund” has been used to pay for in the last six years.

It is important that students’ questions and concerns on the matter of parking are answered in a concise manner by the administration. It would be quite appropriate that such information to be packaged in a manner which does not require a degree in accountancy to make sense of it.

In addition, we highly recommend if the university administration is not using such monies to fund the construction of a parking structure within the calendar year or to work with Associated Students, Inc. to bring back free use of specific AC transit lines for those without automobiles, that parking fees and fines are brought back to 2006 levels.

It is perhaps fitting and proper that at the time of this printing the hyperlink to the page “Parking Structure Coming in 2011” is broken. It is indicative of a parking system on campus held to be broken by student consensus.

With a new President entering the fray this summer quarter, the winds of change are nigh. Let a change for the better in parking management practices be one of the first actions taken by the incoming administration to build trust between school administration and the campus community.