Grievances with On-Campus Parking Permits
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012
Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:05
Competition is supposed to drive the prices of things down to entice the consumer. When it comes to parking at Santa Clara, someone clearly failed Economics 101.
The parking policy used by the university is a wreck and only makes sense for a limited number of students.
Much of it is basic math. An annual parking permit for students is currently $250. However, right across the street is the Santa Clara Caltrain station, which offers parking at $4.00 per day. Thus, a student that purchases one of these permits is, in pure mathematical terms, only profiting after 63 school days (some permits aren’t enforced on weekends and holidays). That’s the entire fall quarter, plus more than a week into winter.
Then there are the evening permits, which are $125 annually. Half the price of a regular permit, but only have value from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday. Absolutely not worth it.
However, that’s assuming the system works perfectly. Enforcement by Campus Safety has been, in my experience, severely lacking. There have been many times when I’ve seen unpermitted vehicles park in “C” permit spaces for several hours at a time, and to this day, I’ve never seen a single ticket issued to them. There are some citations being handed out, I’m sure, but this seems to be a rarity more than the norm.
My last grievance is the inconsistency between permits. If you read the signs, you see that students’ “C” spaces are enforced “24 hours a day,” yet professors’ “B” spaces, many times right next to “Cs”, are only enforced “6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday.” If I can park in one space every Saturday, why not the space six feet to the left? There aren’t many more of one than the other, so little to nothing is being accomplished. Although, if there are any professors that struggle to find parking on Saturdays due to rampant student abuse, please let me know.
Yet, why pay for parking at all? I frequently bring my car down from home, and I’ve always been able to find parking on El Camino Real near Bellomy Field, which doesn’t have a time limit attached to it, other than the three-day maximum outlined by the Santa Clara Municipal Code. Other spaces around campus do have time limits, but if you’re short on cash or have a friend coming over for longer than the two hours allotted by the university for visitors (and don’t even get me started on that), then they’re perfectly fine options.
Worse comes to worst, there’s the CalTrain station again, which is cheaper for a single day than on campus ($4 vs. $6).
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the university takes advantage of our laziness or our willingness to spend more of our parents’ money than is necessary by jacking up prices. I’d rather assume that their parking policies are the result of bad bureaucracy, the same as in any major institution. They already alienate a quarter of their potential customers by banning freshmen from having cars on campus. What they should do to avoid losing many more student drivers is: 1) Lower prices of all permits to be competitive, 2) Create a policy that is the same for all spaces and 3) Do a better job of enforcing that policy.
Until the price is right, though, you’ll find me parking on El Camino Real.
Jonathan Tomczak is a sophomore political science and history double major.