UCSD will charge for on-campus weekend parking starting Fall Quarter, despite a large student opposition from an online form on the Transportation Virtual Town Hall page. The structure of the weekend parking rates are to be determined, though one proposal is a $5 a day for weekend parking for drivers who do not have a regular parking permit, as well as a $5 evening parking fee after 5pm.
The form on the Transportation Virtual Town Hall was open from May 28 through June 11, 2019 and received 820 comments, with 37 expressing support for weekend parking charges and 783 opposing the new rates.
According to the Virtual Town Hall page, “Comments in support focused on sharing the cost of developing and maintaining parking facilities across all who use those facilities.”
The Town Hall page also stated that “comments in opposition expressed concerns, including adverse impacts on community relations, graduate student access to labs, student access to the library or study groups, participation in student activities, and the ability for families to visit campus residents.”
Students also expressed the idea that parking spaces are under-utilized over the weekend, as well as there being “diminished transit service to the campus during the weekend.”
The Transportation page states that there may have been a potential misunderstanding amongst respondents for the actual proposal. According to the page, “Many respondents misunderstood the proposal, believing it to be introducing a new evening parking fee (rather than lowering evening parking fees), introducing an additional charge for permit-holders (who will not pay an additional fee to park on the weekend), or believing it to be the only option for purchasing evening and weekend parking (the evening and weekend permit will be priced at 75% less than the pay station rate).”
Many students expressed their frustration to the announcement of this new weekend charge through the UCSD Facebook Memes page, sharing their concerns over the lack of transparency between the students and administration.
In Mid-February 2019, the Student Transportation Advisory Committee (STAC) released a form to the Graduate Student Association (GSA) to gauge student opinions.
In March 2019, the UCSD Guardian published an article about the update of the weekend parking charges and policy idea, which had not been an official proposal at the time. STAC Graduate Student Representative Erica Silva told the UCSD Guardian that the graduate opposition came from the idea that weekend charges would “disproportionately affect graduate students whose salary is significantly lower than staff and faculty.”
According to the March UCSD Guardian article, “Due to the wide range of negative feedback, [Director of Transportation Joshua] Kavanagh predicts that the programs will not be implemented in the next academic year.”
“This is not a policy proposal,” Kavanagh told the UCSD Guardian in March. “[Transportation Services] is interested in understanding what the perspectives of our customers [are] and how some university partners’ needs could be best accommodated.”
According to Kavanagh, the fees will help fund new parking facilities.
“We’ve heard clearly from the campus community that we need to build more parking. We opened more than 1,700 new stalls last year, another 1,700 are in construction right now, and we are in the planning or design phase for over 3,500 additional stalls,” Kavanagh recently told the UCSD Guardian. “Fees from weekend parking will help pay for some of the costs associated with these new parking facilities, so that those who park during the week don’t see parking fees increase any more than necessary. We’re introducing the fee in the Fall rather than at the beginning of the budget year so that we can develop a plan that addresses the need for all parking customers to contribute while also providing a rate structure that better responds to the needs described by respondents, particularly students.”
While the weekend parking fees will be introduced in Fall Quarter 2019, the exact structure of the parking rates are to be determined.
“Students’ opinions had a really significant effect in this case, highlighting needs that would not be well-served by a flat rate,” Kavanagh said, referring to the Virtual Town Hall. “That feedback is the reason we’re taking a quarter to evaluate other options and I anticipate that we’ll end that process with a fee structure that is more granular.”
In fact, while the Transportation Virtual Town Hall page does mention a proposed $5/day flat-rate charge for those without a parking permit, it also states, “Options for the form of the weekend parking rate, including flat-fee, two-tiered, and hourly, will be reviewed with campus stakeholders, including the Student Transportation Advisory Committee and major event hosts prior to implementation.”
Additionally, Kavanagh mentioned the possibility of another Virtual Town Hall.
“While we got lots of great feedback, we also learned that we need to be really precise in describing what a proposal would and wouldn’t do, along with any interdependencies between parts of the proposal,” Kavanagh said. “We received a great suggestion from one student that we host another Virtual Town Hall that was more focused. I think that could be a great option as we consider alternative approach es that respond to the ways respondents told us they use parking on the weekend.”
The UCSD College Democrats have been vocal about the potential proposal since it was first introduced in February 2019. UCSD College Democrats President Jacob Faust expressed his concerns over the decision to move forward with the parking charges.
“We understand that the school is going through a phase of growth and we respect that, but it has real, negative impacts on current students,” Faust told the UCSD Guardian.
Faust also mentioned the inaccessibility of alternative options and timing of the policy enactment.
“The University cited options such as Lyft and Zipcar (and others) which will fill their needs in the meantime,” Faust said “Seriously? If only all students were fortunate enough to be able to afford those at all times…Why did the administration feel the need to not only lie to students, but enact this policy during the summer when there would be less opposition?”
Incoming 4th year Warren College Student and commuter Kenneth Icayan is concerned about the effects the charges would have on himself and other commuters.
“Commuters like me are already hit with their high costs for paying for an S spot,” Icayan told the UCSD Guardian. “In addition, the lack of actual S-spots on campus make it even more ridiculous to be a commuter. And because of that fact, when I go to campus for club meetings over the weekend, I have the ability to park in any spot I desire without worry [about] a fee.”
Iván Verástica, a recent graduate and HDH representative for Revelle College, has experience working with connecting students to the administration, and expressed his concerns of how this change would affect the relationship of the university and the student body.
“It is incredibly disappointing to see the university disregarding the valid concerns of 783 members of our community,” Verástica told the UCSD Guardian. “What worries me is that this will continue to deteriorate the relationship between UCSD and the student body, it discourages students from ever bothering to provide their input again. Students cared about these transportation issues and made an effort so they could be heard, but they weren’t. This issue makes the Virtual Town-hall look like a simple formality that is not taken seriously by those who are responsible for listening to us.”
Second Year Warren College Student Isaac Jiali Bi also believes the parking policy change was the effect of a misunderstanding and lack of transparency.
“I was mostly disappointed that UCSD, knowing many respondents misunderstood their proposal, decided to follow through with their plans instead of making their proposal more clear and understandable,” Jiali Bi told the UCSD Guardian. “When it comes to things that directly impact us as students, UCSD shouldn’t be writing using all this administrative jargon that typical students would find difficult to understand.”
The UCSD College Democrats has drafted a petition to call on the university to revoke the changes and to ask Associated Students to take a stand against the change, which is set to take effect at the beginning of Fall Quarter 2019.
Photo courtesy of International Parking Design.