Quick Takes: Parking Spaces and Tow Trucks

Investigations of the city’s parking and towing practices have revealed various allegations of corruption, including expensive tickets meant to maximize profit.

 City of San Diego and UCSD Administration Should Provide Sufficient Parking Spaces for Students

Parking may not be an explicit right, but that does not mean that the City of San Diego is justified in pushing it to the wayside or using it to underhandedly fund politicians’ campaigns, as the Voice of San Diego reported. It is not appropriate to use parking tickets on Mission Beach streets as an under-the-table $6.6 million-grossing “tax” or towing companies as a source for thousands of dollars in under-the-table contributions to politicians’ election campaigns. A city’s job isn’t to make a quick buck by exploiting its citizens, and politicians are supposed to be responsible for protecting their constituents’ interests — not their own bank accounts. 

That said, if the City truly wants its citizens parking off the streets, then the solution isn’t to rely on a deterrent such as mass-ticketing — it’s to provide a favorable alternative. It’s building more parking structures to take the pressure away from street parking, and it’s understanding that, unlike politicians receiving kickbacks, many car owners have few options and would choose not to park on potentially ticketed streets if given an alternative. 

Towing often seems like another way that the wealthy and powerful manage to unethically profit off the general public. In San Diego, there were 113 motorists recently involved in an illegal tow scheme. In this case, the victims were able to receive their money back, but how many illegal fines are being paid by people without the resources, time or ability to realize that they are being taken advantage of?

Like the City of San Diego itself, those who must park at UCSD are facing fewer and fewer options to do so. Students are familiar with the consequences of inadequate parking, considering that as enrollment increases, construction continues to eat up parking space on campus. With just over 4,600 S-parking spots on campus for almost 25,000 undergraduate students, there is not even enough space for one-fifth of the student body to park — and when half of the student body commutes to campus, that’s not good enough, even considering the high usage rates of alternative transportation. If UCSD and the City of San Diego want to get their acts together, they must recognize that parking spaces are a significant part of the transportation system and that it is their responsibility to provide the parking that is needed for the system to function well. 

—  SAGE CHRISTIAN Contributing Writer

Towing Companies Used to Help People, Instead of Exploiting Cash-Strapped Students and Local Residents

Nobody likes getting towed or receiving a parking ticket. The experience is up there with having a cavity filled, getting stuck in an elevator or being forced to buy overpriced textbooks. After being towed people can feel as if they were robbed, and parking tickets can be just as ruthless. According to the International Towing and Recovery museum, the tow truck was originally invented in 1916 for the purpose of easily pulling cars out of places they do not belong, such as from creeks. It was created to help people but has often strayed from that purpose. 

NBC 7 reported last week that the city is refusing to refund individuals who are ticketed for parking on a “street-sweeping” day, when the street is, in fact, never actually swept. It is clear from numerous allegations of corruption in the City of San Diego, that the towing and parking industry are in dire need of a reform, but the important services the towing companies provide should also be taken into account.

There are many people who cannot afford constant fees and tickets for simply parking, and the city is acting on this. According to NBC 7, Gov. Jerry Brown has created a program to officially pardon certain California residents who had their driver’s licenses suspended due to their inability to pay traffic fines.

On another note, while some towing companies participate in predatory practices, this is not representative of the entire industry. A roadside technician reported to the Voice of San Diego that he worked with the Western Towing company for 10 years with consistently positive results. He said that the company was courteous, timely and considerate enough to handle towed cars very carefully. A 65-year-old woman also told the VOSD that a tow truck actually helped her start her car when the battery died.

Here at UCSD, we face our own problems with limited parking spaces. There are constant campus security officials strolling up and down the parking lanes searching for the tiniest offense. The university is so underfunded that it’s forced to stir up a profit from the average student who is merely trying to park on campus. The towing and parking industry should return to its original purpose of helping people situate their vehicles, instead of exploiting students who are already shackled with absurdly expensive tuition.

— CASSIA POLLOCK Opinion Editor