Quite frankly, we have some concerns.
At the time of writing this, 261 students and student organizations have signed ASUCI’s “Dear Parking” letter. The letter is addressed to Vice Chancellor Wendell C. Brase and Associate Vice Chancellor Paige Macias and asks transparency from UCI’s Transportation and Distribution Services, the department that oversees parking, regarding the budget and rates. The New University is joining these students and organizations in signing this letter and urges Parking, Transportation and Distribution to immediately address the concerns of our student body.
UCI has the fourth highest parking rates among the UC campuses with undergraduates (UCSF only has medical students, so they were not factored into the ranking). These high rates could be somewhat justified if there were enough parking spots available for the students, faculty and staff who purchased a permit, but there are not. Transportation and Distribution has a “Shared Parking” model, which means for every 100 parking permits issued there are between 60-80 spots available. Shared parking takes on the philosophy that a car occupies a spot for part of the day and therefore can share a spot with another car that uses the same spot for the other part of the day. Shared parking looks good on paper, but in practice it is a disaster. During peak hours of the day the parking lots get impacted with students who are competing for the same “shared spots” of which there are not enough.
“Shared spots” would be more functional if they issued parking permit by structure instead of by zone. We can assume that people like parking near their destination, so when they decide which permit to purchase they select a zone with a lot close to their school. The 70 spots available per 100 students is available by zone and not structure so if you hypothetically wanted to park in Social Science Parking Structure (SSPS) the 70 spots you compete for are spread out between SSPS, Lot 17A, Lot 36, California Temp Lot (CT) and the ARC parking structure.
Only SSPS is a convenient walk to the Social Sciences, the next closest would be lot 17A which is located behind Middle Earth Housing, on the other side of East Peltason. According to the Transportation and Distribution’s website “a goal or benchmark for ‘reasonable convenience’ for all is defined as a 10-15 minute walk from one’s destination.”
If your hypothetical destination is main campus then Lot 36, CT lot and the ARC parking structure would fail their convenience litmus test. If you pay for a spot in SSPS you should be able to park in SSPS and not in the CT lot.
Additionally, it is appalling that students pay so much for parking but do not have access to a clear and thorough budget. UCI Transportation and Distribution’s budget website is in the form of a pie graph. According to this budget 33.2 percent or $5,365,000.00 is dedicated to “Parking Loan Obligations.” Why does Transportation need to take out loans? What is the progress on paying these loans back? Even worse 53.8 percent or $646,707.00 of Distribution’s budget is dedicated to Special Projects and Miscellaneous — a term so vague it could mean anything. As students, it is difficult to be fully upset on a particular Parking platform because we haven’t been fully versed in how parking is using their budget.
For all we know, they could be purchasing unicorns with the distribution money because “Special Projects and Miscellaneous” is so vague. The New University and ASUCI have issued Public Records Act (PRA) requests for Transportation and Distribution’s budget in the past year and both times this has proven futile. Traditionally, when a person puts in a PRA request the organization being investigated provides the requested documents in its native format. When New U put in a request for a public record, we received a link to Transportation and Distribution’s budget website. Other organizations we have submitted PRA requests to, including ASUCI and Anteater Express, have provided us with the original, unpolished PDF format of their budgets with all numbers and accounts represented.
The New U reached out to Transportation and Distribution to clarify on some of these concerns, but they could not be reached for comment. What is parking hiding? Why won’t they surrender their documents to those who ask for it?
We as students have a right to know where our money is going. We have a right to attainable parking in the lot we pay for and we have a right to access this information. We are calling on Parking to publicly address the student body about these concerns. We are asking for transparency and an open conversation with students so that this campus can finally get some answers.
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