Parking permit and ticket prices are on the rise due to construction debts and costs around campus. Photo Illustration.

Cal Poly parking permits have risen from $36 to $115 for a general fall permit since the 1999-2000 school year, leaving some students — and their pocketbooks — wondering why.

Tracy Davies, a software engineering senior, said the current permit price “wasn’t too, too bad,” but was surprised when confronted with the prices from 10 years ago.

“I can understand (permit prices) going up with inflation and the economy, but maybe it could have gone up $5 a year instead of $10,” Davies said.

Though the prices have not gone up exactly $10 a year since 1999, the price difference remains significant.  From permits, the parking program gains $3.6 million in revenue; yet, with the $1.5 million debt from the Poly Canyon Village parking structures, $158,000 costs toward facility maintenance and contracts, $313,000 administration costs and $94,000 costs toward general systemwide expenses and Chancellor’s Office charges, plus having to keep money in reserve in case of an emergency, the parking program has many costs that cause the gradual permit increase.

“We came up with a five year plan saying this is how we are going to pay for the structures we want to build in Poly Canyon Village, and it had to be a gradual increase,” Associate Director for the University Police Department (UPD), Cindy Campbell said.

She also said that in order to even get the funding for the Poly Canyon Village parking structures, the program has to show proof it can afford the structure, just like with a home or car loan.  Additionally, the building of a structure is expensive in itself.

“You’re talking roughly $2,000 a space, give or take, to build a parking lot — a good parking lot,” Campbell said. “Take a parking structure. At minimum you’re looking at $15,000 a parking space, up to anywhere (around) $40,000 a space.”

The Business Services Coordinator for the UPD, Marlene Cramer, also noted that “steel costs also affect costs of asphalt and repairs for our lots. The costs for our contractors to come and re-stripe. It is a huge exponential effect on all those services that are driven by fuel, so the last few years have been very difficult for us just because the cost of some things near doubled.”

Cramer also said that initial estimates were skewed when prices for materials rose.

“When we first got estimates on our Poly Canyon Village structures, the job was going to be about $30 million.  But during that time, concrete and fuel prices went up, which increased the project by … $7 million,” Cramer said.

The cost to run utilities also adds an extra expense, Cramer said.

“We have the lights on at night so when you’re driving in it, it’s lit. It’s for safety when you’re driving … when you’re walking around,” Cramer said. “To run the lights and the elevators it’s approximately $5,000 in utilities cost.”

Though the parking program tries to save money, like with retrofitting the lights last year to save in utilities, Campbell said the prices had gone up “to pay for the debt (in) services that are associated with structured parking, as well as increases in the cost of repair and maintenance to our already existing parking supply.”

With gas prices and utilities continuing to go up, Campbell expects another permit raise next year.

“Parking rates were actually supposed to go up this year, and we didn’t do it, and part of that is simply because of the economy and the effect that it’s having on our students,” Campbell said.  “I can’t say with certainty if they’ll go up next year, but I would plan on it.”

As for the citation prices going up, the parking program actually did not make the raise; the California courts did.  The courts added an extra $10 to all parking citations throughout California, whether they are on a campus or in the city. Both Campbell and Cramer had their misgivings for this raise, with Cramer noting that they were making administration do more work, but not reimbursing for it.

Davies also had misgivings, but more about the construction in the parking lots.

“Right now with … half the lots being taken up with construction, it sucks.”

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