Mobilized Students Claim Parking Victory

    In order to alleviate traffic congestion in on-campus parking areas, such as Lot 208 (pictured), UCSD Transportation and Parking Services approved a structure at Thornton Hospital earlier this month. (Will Parson/Guardian)

    Though protests from students compelled the Transportation
    Policy Committee to vote against the construction of any new parking structures
    on the main campus in the near future, the committee approved a structure near Thornton
    Hospital
    at its meeting earlier
    this month.

    Prompted by the addition of a new bed tower and
    cardiovascular center at the hospital, the recommendation of a Thornton parking
    structure reflects an effort to ensure that the campus stay in compliance with
    the Americans with Disabilities Act, since the recent developments will
    generate an increase in hospital visitors.

    “The decision made was out of necessity more than anything
    else,” TPC’s A.S. Council Representative Peter Benesch said. “Allowing for
    disabled persons to park close to their treatment facility is definitely a need
    as opposed to the desire for students to park near the center of campus.”

    Although the construction of the structure will cost
    approximately $29.1 million, UCSD Transportation and Parking Services will only
    foot about $5.8 million.

    The remaining expenses will be covered by hospital
    administrators, according to Benesch.

    “[They] have put money aside to pay for part of this
    structure as an act of good faith,” Benesch said. “This partial payment by an
    interested party has never happened before.”

    The new structure would increase monthly parking permit fees
    by less than $0.60 per year. The facility will have a parking breakdown of
    roughly 80 percent visitor parking and 20 percent staff parking.

    In light of a controversial debate regarding the erection of
    a parking structure on the northeast corner of Gilman
    Drive
    and Myers Lane
    to accommodate the ongoing Price Center
    expansion project, T&PS has decided to encourage alternative modes of
    transportation, such as nonmotorized and public transportation.

    However, if 5 percent of single-car users are unable to
    locate parking on campus, T&PS will restrict resident freshmen’s parking
    ability.

    “The reason we did not support the construction of a new
    building in the University Center
    area was because every member of the committee felt that the campus community
    had overwhelmingly responded through the public forums, the online forums and
    even through petitions that any further increase in parking permit fees was not
    acceptable,” Benesch said.

    On Feb. 12, the All-Campus Commuter Board presented Benesch
    a petition of more than 900 signatures of students opposed to any structure
    that would raise parking permit fees.

    In addition, 80 percent of the 262 responses T&PS
    received on its online forum from faculty, administrators and students were
    against a hike in fees.

    “I think they did a
    great service to UCSD students by striking it down,” ACCB President Jerrod
    Zertuche said. “It’s obvious that everyone would like another parking structure
    in the new downtown UCSD, but where they get the funds from is another issue.”

    A vibrant atmosphere could be achieved without increased
    fees by allowing students and visitors to utilize Gilman Parking Structure,
    which remains relatively empty after 5 p.m.,
    Zertuche said.

    Recent increases in parking prices have resulted in a
    $36,845 decrease in total net revenue from last year.

    “The previous mentality of ‘If you build it, they will come’
    is just not true anymore,” Benesch said. “Raising the price of permits is
    simply no longer a secure method of increasing revenue to pay for such things
    as a new parking structure.”

    While annual parking permit sales will produce a $643,257
    increase in revenue this year, the number of permits sold will decrease by 142
    purchases, according to the T&PS budget.

    Additionally, citations will bring in a surplus of
    approximately $1.8 million, with estimated increments of $50,000 in funds for
    the next six years.

    “Citation revenue is used to partially fund the university’s
    shuttle program,” T&PS Assistant Director Charles Kindred said. “We issue
    approximately 14,000 citations per quarter.”

    Several T&PS administrators and A.S. cabinet members
    discussed the possibility of a parking-related referendum last summer, but they
    dropped the idea at the beginning of the school year.

    “There is no parking referendum under consideration,”
    T&PS Director Brian d’Autremont said.

    TPC is an advisory committee to Vice Chancellor of Business
    Affairs Steven W. Relyea.

    The committee presents its recommendations to Relyea, who
    will finalize the decision by either rejecting or concurring with the
    vote.

    Relyea could not be reached for comment as of press time.

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