On the first day of the semester, sophomore Ben Velazquez arrived on campus a half-hour before his class started. By the time he found parking, he was 20 minutes late.
Although permit prices have increased by $70 since 2005, the availability of spaces has remained the same, leaving students wondering where the additional money goes.
Chuck McConnell, director of Parking and Transportation Services, said that, as an auxiliary of the University of Miami, the department is financially independent from the school. The department funds itself through the sales of parking permits, day passes and meters.
Revenue collected from the sales goes towards the construction and maintenance of parking garages, surface lots and transportation services such as the three additional shuttles added this year. The cost of these existing services, as well as plans for future lots and garages, determines the price of the parking permits, McConnell said.
McConnell noted that a single space in a garage costs $12,000-$15,000 to construct.
Alan Fish, vice president of Business Services, said if the department did not fund itself it would be funded by student tuition.
McConnell suggested that students with financial problems buy the $218 discount permit.
“It is about half the price of the regular permit, and at the Ponce de Leon Garage, parking is readily available. You can just hop on a shuttle to wherever you need to go,” McConnell said.
But for many students, parking restrictions at the discounted price are problematic.
“Some days I have to be here [Hecht Athletic Training Center] at 7 a.m., and then I have class on the opposite side of campus in Memorial,” said senior Grant Brown, a member of the UM football team. He addded that parking at the Ponce Garage “doesn’t make sense.”
Brandi Wyskocil, a sophomore, has similar frustrations with the restrictions on student parking. She received two tickets for parking in front of Pearson, unaware that it was a commuter lot.
“I think it’s bogus that I can’t park in front of the place that I live, and that the only signs are covered by bushes,” Wyskocil said. “Parking spaces should be more clearly defined.”
The Student Government Senate passed a bill on Sept. 26 regarding the lack of clearly defined parking spaces, which SG President Danny Carvajal signed. The bill recommended improvements to parking procedures in the gravel parking lots adjacent to the School of Business, in front of the UC, adjacent to the Pavia Garage and near the apartment area.
“The gravel lots were referred to as temporary, but they’ve been heavily used for several semesters,” said Brandon Gross, speaker for the Senate. “Students have been forced to park in ambiguous parking spaces. Because of the lack of any parking space designations, students don’t understand the receipt of so many costly parking citations.”
The bill was passed with 20 votes in favor, none against and only one abstention. Gross expects Patricia Whitely, vice president of Student Affairs, to receive the Senate’s recommendation early this week.
Still, students are having difficulties parking even in lots where the spaces are clearly defined. The Hecht/Stanford lot receives many non-resident guests because of its proximity to the BankUnited Center, the Wellness Center and other athletic facilities.
Jenna Mullins, a sophomore, said it was hard to find parking when she lived near the Hecht/Stanford lot. Many times she was forced to park near Eaton.
Velazquez said he believes supplemental lots and garages are needed, and added that a desperate student once paid him $50 for his parking space.
Janet Gavarrete, UM’s campus planner, said several extension plans have been made, including plans to extend the Serpentine Parking Lot in front of the BankUnited Center.
Construction on the Serpentine Lot is scheduled to begin January 2008. Upon completion, it will be available to commuter and residential students.
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2007/2008 parking prices at UM and its ‘sister schools’
University of Miami: Resident: $442; Commuter: $422
Tulane: Resident: $575; Commuter: $520
Emory: Resident and Commuter: $624
Vanderbilt: Students pay $10.20 per month through May
New York University: NYC public lot parking rates only
Syracuse: $311 for surface lots; $618 for garages
Case Western: $30-$100 depending on lot
Rochester: Resident: $347; Commuter: $160
University of Southern California: $792 for on-campus lots; $450 for housing lots
Carnegie Mellon: $840-$1,956, depending on lot
Brandeis: Resident and Commuter: $125