Parking prices gouge the student body


Photo by Anne Hall

parking structure
CSUSM offers ample parking for visitors, students, faculty and staff if willing to pay the price. Photo by Anne Hall

By Anne Hall

Design Editor

Students, faculty and staff alike are frustrated as parking prices continually add to the financial burden of attending CSUSM.

Since the completion of the 487,000 square foot parking structure in July 2010, Parking and Commuters Services has been trying to make up for the $27 million expense of erecting the additional 1,605 parking spaces that were made available by the six floors of parking that exist on the north end of campus.

Decisions to create the parking structure were finalized by the administration to accommodate the projected growth of student attendance since 2002. Parking fee plans held what was called a parking service open forum to inform campus community of the population growth. Students had addressed their disapproval of the development plans, according to Alexander Hoang, former ASI President.

The students’ disapproval was measured against the issue of the progressive growth, with the vote to move forward with these plans siding with the university.

These plans for projected fees resulted in a decision to establish parking fee increases as of January 2003, Fall 2006 and Fall 2009 for students and other permit holders for the sake of providing additional parking over time.

Along with these plans came an expense projection to open a second parking structure between 2015 and 2016 to add an additional 1,200 parking spaces “without future drastic fee increases,” according to the Parking Fee Plan (3 Tier), which can be found at

There are now 10 lots on campus for parking on this fast-growing campus.

“Parking prices are ridiculous. Where does $600 go to? That’s per student, right? And there are about 11,500 that attend. Makes me wonder. I pay about $320 a semester because I go to school twice a week,” Public Relations Club President, Tracey Engleton, said.

The campus was founded in North County as a satellite campus for SDSU in 1989, with a total enrollment of 448 students. By 2004, the number of students enrolled at CSUSM rose to 7,000 students. In 2013, there was a total of 8,180 full time students on campus, with over 10,000 students enrolled and over 1,000 students on a wait list for enrollment according to campus attendance statistics.

Because the Parking and Commuters Services Department is not a state funded entity, it is required to be independently funded through its acquiring funding for paying off the cost of development and maintenance over time. Thus, the establishment of parking fees charged to students, faculty and staff.

Estimates to reaching the full rate of the parking fees was estimated to be reached by Fall of 2011 at $338 per semester and $225 per summer semester. This projection is reflected in the current total fees for parking that students are paying as of Spring 2014.

“Cost of parking is ridiculous. Can I at least get valet?” senior psychology major, David Acosta, said.

On the other hand, non-bargaining unit employees are charged $75 a month for parking, while Vendors are charged $30-$50 a month, the Vice President is charged $150 per month and Deans are paying $130 per month to park in designated lots on campus. If not attending campus full time, parking can potentially be more affordable by paying $9 for an all day pass.

These expenses are “just another ridiculous charge to make education even more unaffordable,” senior Communications major, Ron Summers, said.

Based on comparisons of cost between parking prices at other universities in southern California, CSUSM students pay almost three times more than other campuses for the privilege. Yet, this campus shows to have ample parking for students and guests and does not have nearly as many complaints for lack of parking availability.

For students and faculty that absolutely cannot see themselves spending such high prices for parking on campus, Parking and Commuter services offer various options for assistance in finding alternate means of transportation. These include carpool options, bus and train passes, as well as potential fee waivers for special needs purposes.

“I’m glad that I have the option of taking the sprinter, considering the cost of parking on campus. It sucks to have to abide by the train schedule but you get used to it. You spend 1/3 the cost per semester for transportation by taking the train. Not putting wear and tear on your vehicle and gas mileage are an added bonus when using the train,” senior math major, Henry Brooks, said.

When inquiring about parking policies and standards for developing fees for the cost of providing parking for Cal State San Marcos, the Parking and Commuter Services Department declined to comment.

After much searching, it appears there is no public record of how much of the campus population use public transportation or utilize any other alternative means of traveling to and from campus.

For more information, Parking and Commuter Services can be reached at (760) 750-7500. Suggestions and comments can be submitted to the department through the campus web site at

The Cougar Chronicle The independent student news site of California