Parking Frustrations

Parking in the main garage or in the metered areas around SF State is quite limited to students. / Map courtesy of SF State
Parking in the main garage or in the metered areas around SF State is quite limited to students. / Map courtesy of SF State

When one of the members on our staff accumulated a total of $10,000 in parking tickets within her first year of attending SF State, she knew she wasn’t the only casualty of the university’s disastrous parking situation.

Overstaying a one to four hour limit or impeding a scheduled street cleaning are honest mistakes, but these brief lapses in concentration or planning are errors many students can’t afford to make. Leniency on parking regulations could make a difference for a student paying rent or for a student dealing with a personal issue.

Twenty percent of students who reside off-campus choose to drive alone and park their cars either in the school parking garage or on surrounding streets, and unfortunately neither of those options are equipped to hold that many vehicles.

Two polarizing solutions lend themselves towards lessening the amount of students penalized for driving to school – lightening the parking penalties and decreasing the number of cars attempting to squeeze into an insufficient supply of parking spaces.

Steps can be taken by SF State and SFMTA to make parking mistakes more affordable and less common. Warning policies for student drivers are a great place to start.

With a license plate recording system already in place, it’s not a stretch to assume that SFMTA could easily and effectively implement a warning policy for SF State students and faculty.  Consider this scenario: meter maids issue a warning in the event that the university-registered vehicle has gone over the allotted time limit. A parking ticket will then issued should the student disobey the maximum time for parking again within a given semester.

The university can also lend a hand by helping to reduce the number of vehicles that park in timed or street cleaning zones. According to the 2014 Transportation Survey, “driving is the second most common mode” of transportation for SF State commuters. About 41 percent of students park on campus, whereas 42 percent park on surrounding streets.

In considering what has worked for other urban universities, we found the prospect of incentivizing carpooling to be the most practical. Reserving carpool-only spots in the parking garage, for which SF State charges a steep $7 per space to park in to help pay off a $4.2 million debt “accumulated during a seismic retrofit,”  wouldn’t impede the parking structure from reaching its daily capacity while still trimming down the amount of street parking.

There are many conceivable forms of resolution, and really, we’d just like to see the parking problem addressed in any manner. It’s a very real issue, SF State, and your students are stressed and financially strained because of it. Listen to them.