Council Focuses on Free Speech, Free Transit ­— but Can’t Find Parking

    Councilmembers were lectured last night on matters both
    practical and philosophical. Two special presentations, one on parking and the
    other on free speech, were the lead attraction.

    Director of Parking and Transportation Services Brian
    d’Autremont spoke to the council about UCSD’s future transportation needs.

    D’Autremont, who has a background managing parking at other
    UC schools, spun a web of student usage statistics, fee increases and
    sustainability concerns to put a proposed new parking structure at UCSD into
    context. Although transportation services are an innately uninspiring topic,
    d’Autremont managed to do for parking what Al Gore did for climatology.

    According to his projections, by 2012 current parking
    facilities will be left with 400 to 600 open spaces during peak usage. That
    sounds roomy enough, but d’Autremont said that hunting down spaces at that
    level would be considerably more time-consuming than it is today with more than
    1,000 open spaces at peak usage.

    “It would be doable,” d’Autremont said sagely. Nonetheless,
    he recited a laundry list of solutions to maintain convenient parking on
    campus.

    A 1,000-car parking structure was first up, weighing in at a
    cool $30 to $55 million. The requisite parking permit fee hikes — up to $120
    per quarter after the necessary increases — was unpopular with councilmembers,
    and d’Autremont moved on.

    “I’m very very excited to talk to you about this,” he said
    of his second suggestion, which was a regional transit pass for students.

    “You could take any form of public transit anywhere in San
    Diego
    for free,” he said.

    Expansions of free public transportation at other
    universities have taken 1,000 cars off campus.

    He also suggested a proposal to restrict future resident
    freshmen from parking on campus, a provision he said has been waiting in the
    wings for the last five years.

    “So we have some good opportunities, some tradeoffs, but we
    have more hope than anywhere else in the UC system,” he said. “This university
    is better positioned than any other UC hands down.”

    On that note of optimism, student representatives Tara
    Ramanathan and Carol-Irene Southworth from the subcommittee to the campus free
    speech policy took the floor to discuss their efforts to reshape the free
    speech policy in a student-friendly way.

    The pair reminded councilmembers of the administration’s
    foiled move last June during finals week to revise the policy in ways that the
    ACLU later deemed unconstitutional.

    They referred to provisions in the original policy that
    would restrict faculty participation in free speech activities, require
    organizers to reserve space and, most Orwellian of all, call for the deployment
    of so-called “demonstration monitors” to spontaneous demonstrations. Ramanathan
    and Southworth made it clear that they were firmly in the camp of unregulated
    free speech, and presented a rough draft of their policy proposal.

    The evolving proposal will eventually be subjected to the
    wrath of administrative review in the coming months.

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