Students avoid parking fees, pay fines

 

While thousands of Youngstown State University students take full advantage of the university’s parking system, some choose to just park on the street.

Although doing so saves students from purchasing a $100 parking permit each semester, these commuters may be risking break-ins and parking violations. 

Sophomore Alfred Coward said he “tries to be smart enough to come on time, right when people are leaving.” 

He plans his arrival to coincide with students who are leaving in order to find an open spot.

“By timing it right, it’s easy to get a spot,” Coward said. He’s been ticketed in the past, but said he just deals with the $25 fee.

Some see the parking permit as just another expense added onto the already steep cost of a college education. 

Junior Bret Warrick said that paying for a parking permit is “stupid.” 

“You have the same walk without a pass as you do with one,” he said. 

Warrick has also been ticketed before, but the parking tickets haven’t persuaded him to buy a parking permit.  

“You would have to get a ticket four times [a semester] to equal the $100 cost, and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said. 

Freshman Sharita Byrd said she purchased a parking permit, but is displeased with the cost. 

Danny O’Connell, director of support services, said that while some students park without a permit, “they’re really just saving $5 [for a day pass] to pay $25 [for a ticket].”

All funds accumulated from permits, day passes and tickets go directly to parking services for maintenance, operation and repair costs. Some examples are fixing potholes, keeping lots striped and plowing snow. 

Each year, $400,000 is allocated toward parking deck maintenance, while $4.5 million was recently spent to renovate the M-2 parking deck.  

Originally built as a temporary deck in 1971, M-2 will need to be replaced in about 15 years, O’Connell said. The cost of building a new deck that can accommodate 1,200 cars is approximately $25 million. 

“We are a complete auxiliary,” O’Connell said, adding that parking services must prepare for future expenses by keeping enough funding in reserve. “We try to keep prices as low as possible while still keeping parking safe.”

In the fall, the cost of a parking permit rose from $78 for each semester to $100. The cost of summer parking swelled as well — from $35 to $51. 

O’Connell attributes these increases to the rising cost of operating. 

“The cost of parking passes is a necessary evil,” he said. 

At Cleveland State University, a daily pass is $6, while a fall or spring semester permit runs $205.25. University of Akron students pay $150 per fall or spring semester, and $110 for the summer. Permits at Kent State University run between $30 and $140, depending on lot preference.  

“Our program is truly a more efficient program,” O’Connell said. 

In the fall, 9,133 commuter parking permits and 403 resident parking permits were purchased. In the spring, 8,482 commuter parking permits and 342 resident parking permits have been purchased — but O’Connell said such a decrease is to be expected, thanks to decreased enrollment in the spring. 

In the event that a student receives a ticket, he has the option to appeal it. The appeal form must be completely filled out and sent in within five business days of receiving the ticket. It will not be accepted otherwise. Students can also submit appeals via email. 

If a first appeal is not accepted, students may request a second appeal in which they sit down and talk with O’Connell.

“If they have no prior tickets and have purchased a pass, then there is a good chance for a successful second-level appeal, simply by them coming in and taking the time to realize what they did wrong,” O’Connell said. 

So far this spring, O’Connell has approved 124 appeals and denied 41.

“If you don’t have a pass, there’s really no reason to accept your appeal,” he said. “Your pass is your right to park.”

O’Connell cautioned that merely throwing away a parking ticket is not a successful way to avoid paying it, noting that meter and disability parking violations are among the most common. 

“They can look up your license plate number to get your name, and it will show up on your bill,” he said. 

O’Connell said parking services is “fairly liberal,” but said that a good portion of money 

This year, parking tickets have brought in more than $65,000, while meters have brought in $9,000. Daily passes also raised $55,000.

“It’s not about the $25. It’s about safe and fair parking,” O’Connell said.

 

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