CSUSM student initiates movement, hopes to lower parking fees for future students

Ian Hanover, Contributor

Jacqueline Gerard, a fourth-year student at CSUSM, created a Facebook page titled, “Stop Overpriced Parking at CSUSM” on March 4 to be a voice for lowering student parking fees.

Since the creation, the page has generated 743 likes, a number that is still increasing.   

Although she is preparing to graduate, Gerard decided to take action against parking permit fees in an effort to alleviate parking dilemmas for future students.

“Our fees are the highest of all the CSU’s,” Gerard said. “However, when you look at the head count versus the parking space count, you see that, although our parking permit rate is high, we have one of the lowest parking turnover rates in the CSU system.”                 

According to Gerard, CSUSM is charging its students for “bad business planning,” because they overpaid for the parking structure. The structure cost approximately 24 million to build, according to Parking and Commuter Services.

Regardless of the cost, Gerard said that students shouldn’t be the ones paying for the bulk of the parking structure.

“I was trying to form a strike and I was trying to get students to park off campus for a week just to prove we could do it.”

Gerard commented on the concept of X, Y and Z Lot parking permits, which are sold at 25-percent discounted rate, as an alternative option to standard permits.

“Even the dirt lots are more expensive than SDSU lots,” she said. “Not to mention they go out and issue parking tickets every 20 minutes …”

Gerard acknowledges that enforcement is necessary, but suggests that a 15 minute grace period be given to all students before receiving a parking citation.

Gerard also spoke about the appeals process students must go through when attempting to challenge a citation.

“There is not even a fighting chance.  I know people who only have $5 in their account, can barely afford food, and are living paycheck to paycheck. They might not even be able to pay the ticket,” she said.

Belinda Garcia, former CSUSM student and Director of Parking and Commuter Services at CSUSM, explained the reasoning behind the parking situation in response to student disapproval.

According to Garcia, overcrowding is caused by a rapidly-growing campus. The department realized that parking accommodations were not being built quickly enough.

This is why the department had to spend 2.89 million dollars (57 percent) of the 2014/15 parking revenue on “Debt Service.” Debt Service, a term coined by the CSU Chancellor’s office, is the bond repayment for the parking structure.

“We submit our financials to them, and they tell us how much it will cost to build the structure. We have to work back to see how much we need to earn in revenue in order to make the payments,” Garcia said.

In order to receive approval from the Chancellor’s office, CSUSM needed to support operation, make the bond payment and have an additional 10 percent revenue.

Garcia also commented on the feasibility of reducing parking permit costs.

“We will be looking at event rates, faculty, staff and all the other sources of revenue to balance it out so that students are not the ones having to take the financial burden,” she said.

When asked if the price of a ticket at CSUSM is fair, Garcia said, “The ticket has to have a price that actually enforces the rules and regulations.  It has to be a real penalty and not just an inconvenience.”