Complex parking rules drive frustration
September 15, 2008 6:12 PM
Because of the severe lack of readily available, untimed, free parking around SF State’s campus, student auto commuters have three major parking options when they arrive at SF State: illegal parking at nearby mall Stonestown Galleria, time-monitored street parking around campus and $5 day parking at SF State-sponsored lots.
If students don’t pay close attention to curbside rules they can find themselves with a hefty parking ticket or, even worse – a towed car.
“Because parking is so scarce around San Francisco State, it behooves drivers to pay attention to the parking rules,” said Judson True, spokesperson for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
As MTA parking tickets were raised $10 this summer, students who leave their cars around campus are looking at $50 tickets if they don’t comply with the mandated parking rules, True said.
While school-monitored parking lots have not increased their ticket prices, campus parking authorities said they still write a fair amount of tickets and as a result are collecting funds in excess of $400,000 a year, said Patricia Tolar, transportation coordinator for SF State.
On average, about 100 citations are written on campus parking lots each day, Tolar said.
The money collected from the tickets goes toward alternative modes of transportation programs like the Bike Barn and shuttle buses, Tolar said.
While school-sponsored parking choices are limited, all options force patrons to pay for their parked car.
Additionally, she said students living on campus can buy a semester permit for $225.
“I park my car here everyday,” said Michael Melcher, an SF State senior, referring to Lot 20. “It’s a little expensive… but what are you gonna do?”
If SF State students would rather abstain from paying for campus-regulated parking, they have the option of illegally parking at Stonestown. Students who do so, however, run the risk of having their car towed and being forced to pay a $360 retrieval fee, said Simone Philipie, customer service manager at Stonestown.
“Students constantly park in our parking lots, and it creates a problem with our mall,” Philipie said. “We try and tell students that this is private property and if you park your car here it will get towed.”
“On average, one car is towed a day,” she said, although that number increases during the winter holiday season when parking is at a premium.
Students who leave their cars at Stonestown may be unaware, but security guards are watching them leave their parked car and walk to campus, Philipie said.
“We give them [students] time to walk off our property, then we tow the car at their own expense,” Philipie said.
Xylina Xiong, a Stonestown security guard responsible for the frequent towing of student cars, said she can sympathize with students’ need to find parking, but remains strict on enforcing policy.
“I understand how bad parking can be around campus,” she said. “But, students have to understand that this is private property, and if you leave your car here it will get towed.”
Numerous signs around the shopping mall inform drivers that if they are not patrons of the mall, their car will be towed immediately.
Philipie and Xiong said there is not much they can do to prevent students from parking in the Stonestown lots, apart from the posted warnings and telling people who look like students that they can’t park their car on Stonestown property.
“I’ll never park my car at Stonestown,” said Yong Lin, an economics senior at SF State. “I’m too afraid it’ll get towed.”
Student drivers opting not to park at Stonestown, instead choosing to stash their cars in Park Merced, are causing frustration among non-scholastic residents of the area, said Karen Brown, front desk agent at Park Merced.
“Parking is an astronomically huge problem at Park Merced,” Brown said. “Residents complain constantly about the lack of parking.”
Since most of the parking around the area is timed, it is common for individuals, mainly students, who park their cars on Park Merced property to receive tickets for disobeying street laws, Brown said.
Like Lin, some students opt out of leaving their cars around Park Merced because when, and if, they find a parking spot it can end up being a far distance from campus.
“When I get out of my car I don’t feel like walking a mile or so just to get to school,” Lin said. “That kind of defeats the point of driving in the first place.”
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