Parking vultures need to lay off

Illustration by Erin Johnson

Illustration by Erin JohnsonA Taste for the Rotten

Imagine a world where you buy a parking permit at the beginning of the quarter and you never receive a ticket. Sounds reasonable, right? You pay to park on campus, thus, you are allowed to park on campus. That is how America works.

Now, imagine that world existing at UC Irvine. If you are having trouble, you are not the only one.

The parking department is the most visibly inefficient department on campus. It is no secret that most students have nothing but bad stories and opinions about this part of our college experience. With the ample staff, the huge source of funds from permit revenue and citations and a vast number of actual parking spaces, questions must be raised about this unpopular department.

Recently, the New University has received and discussed student inquiries regarding the reasons that the Parking Department issues certain tickets. One such inquiry pertains to citations given for late registration tags.

The scenario runs as follows: Your purchased permit is hanging pristinely from your rear-view mirror as you exit the elevator of the Social Sciences Parking Structure. Upon walking to your car, you start to realize there is a small, rectangular object under your windshield wiper. “No problem,” you think. It must be a flyer. As you get closer, the color of the piece of paper starts to come into focus. Your pace quickens. The rectangle is starting to look like a yellow envelope. You stop. Disbelief hits your gawking face as you realize that you just got a ticket.

Before you look in the envelope, you check if your quarter-long parking permit is hanging from your mirror. It is. “What the hell?” you ask yourself. You open the envelope and find a hand-written ticket that does not claim any misconduct for your parking, but rather a small box in the bottom right-hand corner is checked. It reads: “No current license plate tags.”

“Why HEllo?” you ask yourself. “Who gives the parking department the right to ticket me for my tags being two weeks late?” (It is surprising that no parking attendants have been injured).

That is the exact question that the New University asked the Parking and Transportation Department. No answer was given. After being asked to e-mail over our questions, we waited for a response and were given none. A call was placed to the acting Department Director Ron Flemming regarding this question. No answer and no call back is what we received.

With that being said, the only source provided to us that answers this question is its Web site. It states that the California Vehicle Code authorizes them to issue this ticket. The California Vehicle Code is a wildly long document that authorizes many institutions to do an inordinate number of procedures. So, the question now turns from who authorizes them? Why do they feel obligated to give these tickets for late registrations?

If the department had provided an answer, the New University would have relayed it to the students. However, since that is not the case, we must express the reality of the situation.

This department takes advantage of the students at UCI, plain and simple.

The Web site states that Parking and Transportation functions solely off of “permit revenue.” This must be false. If they are handing out tickets for things like late registrations, tinted windows and parking rear-end in first (all of which they are “authorized” to do), they must rely heavily on citation revenue as well. If that were not the case, then why give a ticket for something that does not affect their day-to-day operations?

A person with a late registration has nothing to do with the parking space he is parked in. If he did not pay for that parking space, issue a ticket, by all means. But if he paid, and is a student at UCI, there is no reason for him to receive a ticket, other than citation revenue.

However, a logical person would say that this is an obvious mode of operation for them to function, right?

Wrong.

A student would say that is false. A student would explain how much they have to pay every quarter to park at the school they already pay thousands of dollars to attend. A student would explain how many times they have seen an event over-staffed with parking employees. A student would explain how frustrating it is to find the parking lot they pay hundreds for every quarter full from outside events, including the graduation ceremonies of other schools. A student would explain how they feel that parking is “out to get them.”

A recent student submission received by the New University explained how a student’s mother received a handicapped parking citation. Her handicap parking placard was visible and legal, but she had not purchased a permit. She still received a $300 ticket for illegal handicap parking. The student appealed and the Parking Department explained that he must appeal in person but pay the fine before the appeals hearing. The hearing came, and the citation was not overturned. Why? It was because the person who received the ticket, the student’s mother, was not present. The student explained that his mother was receiving a bone marrow transplant and had paperwork to prove it. The Parking Department denied his appeal nonetheless, and that student’s mother’s money was gone.

This is only one example of how inefficient and unfair this department is. It is wild to think that at a school that we students pay for, attend and enjoy, we feel taken advantage of.

The simple argument from the student perspective stands that if we do not pay for parking, cite us all day long. But if we do, leave us alone. You are bullies, cowards and an overall embarrassment to the UCI name.

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