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23 September 2012

Commuter senator proposes changes to parking system

Commuter students received a survey by email last Wednesday to gauge their interest in a new plan that would allow students to park outside of their designated zones up to three times per semester.
The proposed plan would let parking permit holders park in any colored lot when they are facing an emergency situation by providing them with three excused parking passes. Commuters would place these passes on their windshields for parking attendants to collect.
“I can see how it’s useful, and I am happy that they are taking steps to fix the problem with somewhat useful solutions,” sophomore Charlie Lorenzana, a commuter, said.
The survey was the brainchild of Emmy Petit-Frere, the commuter senator in the Student Government Senate. As a commuter herself, she said that she understands some of the problems that commuters face.
“I know how rough it can be,” she said. “I leave at 6:30 and still don’t make it in time for my 8 a.m. class. It’s very stressful.”
She discovered that many of her fellow commuters felt that the current colored parking system does not work well for them when they have emergencies, including heavy traffic and unexpected tardiness.
“Traffic is unpredictable, and there are accidents all over U.S. 1 all the time,” said senior Annabel Escandon, a commuter student. “We can’t control this.”
Petit-Frere then designed her three-pass system and sent out a survey to evaluate how many students were on board.
According to Petit-Frere, 620 students answered her survey. About 70 percent of those students indicated that the current parking system was inconvenient, and about 80 percent agreed that her proposed system would improve parking.
However, despite the overwhelmingly positive response from students, the Department of Parking and Transportation is not in favor of the proposed plan.
“That system could completely blow up the current system,” said Richard Sobaram, director of Parking and Transportation. “Every single day, you would have several hundred more permits in zones that cannot sustain them.”
According to Sobaram, the goal of the current system is to have students park once and then stay parked there the whole day.
“We don’t want people driving back and forth across campus,” he said. “It creates a dangerous situation for pedestrians.”
However, Sobaram does believe that the current system accommodates students who may have to park in the wrong zone because of an emergency. Currently, when a student receives a ticket, they can appeal it to a board of students to determine if the ticket was warranted.
If it is a first time offense, the board almost always waives the fines, Sobaram said.
Petit-Frere is not discouraged by the lack of support from the Department of Parking and Transportation. Next, she plans to look into the possibility of adding more routes to the shuttle system.
Petit-Frere plans to work with Sobaram to implement more feasible ideas in the future.
“I want to find a way we can meet and compromise,” she said.