Students resort to secondhand parking passes for cheaper alternative

Black market
SF State Parking Officer Pedro Reyes puts a ticket on a car that did not have the proper payment for parking displayed at Lot 20 — SF State's largest parking lot. Photo by Virginia Tieman /Xpress

College students are always looking for means of saving money. Selling or giving away parking permits has given students that mean.

It’s illegal to sell — or even give away — the daily parking permits that are sold for $6 in the parking garage, according to University spokeswoman Ellen Griffin.

“Parking permits are not transferable and are not for resale. Only a buyer who has paid the University for the right to park in a spot has the right to occupy that spot with their vehicle. In a ‘reselling’ situation, both the seller and buyer are working in concert to deprive the University of funds due to the University and both could be held liable for the misdemeanor charge of petty theft,” Griffin said in an email.

Students like John Kalley, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, give away their permits to their peers for free as they leave campus for the day.

“If I pay $6 for the one and I’m only using it for about four hours, I don’t see a reason why I should just throw it away. If I see someone I give it to them — Good Samaritan,” Kalley said.

He says Good Samaritan, Griffin says petty thief.

“Whether free or paid — the ticket clearly states it is not transferrable,’ Griffin said.

But it doesn’t. The permits, pay stations, and parking and transportation website make no mention of the tickets being “nontransferable.”

Despite what campus police and Griffin may believe, the $6 permits from the official pay stations do not have “nontransferable” or any other warnings printed on them. Many students who use the garage are unsure whether they’re allowed to resell their permits.

A history professor, who wished to remain anonymous, referred to secondhand permits as “illegal” and said the exchanging of permits for cash is a “black market.”

Civil engineering major Jamie Brownell usually parks 20 minutes away from campus on Winston Drive and walks to class to avoid paying for parking, but settles for the parking garage if she is running late. The 18-year-old freshman, like many other students, is constantly looking for ways to save some money. So when she was approached by a student finished with classes for the day who offered to sell her a permit for $5 instead of $6, she agreed.

“I guess (it might be against the rules), but it’s cheaper and I don’t want to pay that much just to park at my school,” Brownell said.

The cheaper price is the reason students would seek out secondhand parking passes. Five days a week at $6 a day, adds up to approximately $480 a semester. Students can purchase Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday parking passes for the predetermined days.

“Six dollars a day is way too much. At the community college it’s $3 a day,” Brownell said.

Karen Inthinavong, a 22-year-old kinesiology major, has bought secondhand parking permits in order to save the money, and to save the time it takes to walk back and forth between the pay stations and her car.

“I don’t think (buying permits secondhand) breaks the rules. I need to save my money any way I can. That garage is a ripoff,” Inthinavong said.