SF State just can't seem to figure out the parking puzzle

As if you aren’t already angry about dwindling classes and skyrocketing tuition, here’s something else that might get your panties in a twist: SF State is making it even more difficult for you to park on campus.

Not only is the paid parking system at SF State primitive and inefficient, it appears to be regressing.

After increasing parking fees and eliminating hourly parking rates last July, parking payment machines are no longer accepting coins.

That may not sound earth-shattering, but if you don’t have six dollars exactly, you’re out of luck. Machines do not give change. They also don’t take credit cards.

Though it probably was not the University’s intention to make parking the most drawn-out and painful process in a student’s already hectic day, that is what is happening.

Coughing up $6 a day to park on campus may not seem like a lot, but look at it this way: If you spend more than two hours on campus a day for at least three days a week, you’ll end up spending about $288 a semester on parking. If you attend classes five days a week, you’ll end up shelling out approximately $480 a semester, assuming your vehicle remains in the garage for longer than two hours a day.

Looking at other local colleges, it seems as if we are the only ones that haven’t already figured it out.

Students at City College of San Francisco pay $40 for a semester-long parking permit; if the student is on financial aid, that price drops to $20 per semester. Meanwhile, at San Jose State University, students can purchase a parking permit for seven days a week for the entire semester for $192.

Out of the 23 CSUs, SF State is the only campus that doesn’t offer semester-long parking permits to the general student body, with the exception of students who live on campus. The University is offering a parking solution to the only students who do not actually have to drive to school.

The University has made measly attempts at offering a fast track to paid parking. Prepaid $20 and $50 debit cards are sold at the Bursar’s Office, but certainly do not make the physical parking process any less burdensome. So long as you still have to park, exit your car, pay at a machine and return to your car to display proof of payment, parking on campus is still a pain.

SF State’s parking website also advertises a two-day parking permit for $12, but anyone with kindergarten-level math skills knows that at $6 a day, that isn’t a deal at all.

When asked why parking permits are not made available to students, University police Deputy Chief Reggie Parson responded that since parking could not be guaranteed, semester permits can’t be sold to all students.

This is a lame excuse at best. At the University of San Francisco, where parking is even more limited, 150 parking permits are raffled off to students at the beginning of the semester for purchase. If the issue here is availability, there is no reason why SF State cannot adopt similar protocols.

The lack of flexibility and understanding from the University makes it seem as if they are using parking as another ploy to squeeze an extra dollar out of students, and the last thing that students need is another gimmick that will earn the school an extra buck.

If budget cuts and the financial crisis are a state-wide issue, then there is no excuse why our counterparts at Cal State East Bay or San Jose State can afford to cut students a break by offering parking permits, while the SF State parking and transportation department sprinkles salt on the festering wound left by tuition burdens, the cost of books and increasing competition just to add classes.

With hundreds of posters plastered around San Francisco advertising SF State as “the city’s creative spark,” it is high time that the University produces a creative solution to a situation as basic as parking.

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