With the recent formation of the “Chancellor’s Special Advisory Committee on Parking,” I sincerely hope that the time has finally come when UCSB will abolish its practice of providing its faculty “privileged” parking at student and staff expense!

BACKGROUND: Presently, all faculty are issued “A” permits, affording them the ability to park in all “A,” “S,” and “C” lots, while staff, RA’s and TA’s are awarded “S” permits good for just “S” or “C” lots and students and visitors are restricted to permits for lots “C” or “B” only. And as anyone who has parked at UCSB knows, the “A” lots are the most conveniently located ones on campus. According to UCSB’s Parking and Transportation Services, one single rate ($35/month) is charged for all permits, regardless of type or status and the breakdown of the total number of permits sold in the past. For Fall Quarter, the statistics were: “A” permits = 24.7%; “S” and “S1” = 42.5%; and “C” = 32.8%.

THE PROBLEM: Simply put, our current parking policy benefits a privileged minority at the expense of the remaining 75% of all permit-holders who pay the same rates but must park further away. It’s a situation not unlike a 13th century fiefdom where the many peasants toil in the fields so that a few nobility can live luxuriously in their hilltop castles.

UCSB is the only institution within the UC system that still charges a single rate for all parking permits. Most campuses have implemented some form of a tier system where higher permit rates are assigned to the more attractive lots and lower rates for those in less demand. And while some still offer their faculty and/or staff first dibs at purchasing permits for the more desirable lots, at least those who can’t get these permits know that those who do are paying a lot more for them.

SOLUTIONS: It could be as simple as keeping the cost for “C” permits at the current $35 per month rate while slightly increasing the price for “S” permits and substantially increasing the rate paid for “A” permits. This way, those faculty and staff who do not want to pay higher fees for their permits could opt to purchase cheaper permits and park in “C” lots. Another option could be to implement a tier system similar to those at other campuses where everyone can select where to park based on the amount they are willing to pay. Either way, these changes would address our current equity problem while allowing Parking and Transportation to collect the additional revenue they say is needed to fund future parking projects.

The bottom line is that there are plenty of people at UCSB who are willing and able to pay for the privilege to park closer to their offices and classes! Those who can’t or won’t pay more to do so will just have to park a bit further away. And for those who can’t afford to park close but are physically unable to walk a few extra yards, well, that is what handicap spaces are for.

It is time UCSB brought itself out from behind the proverbial “ivory towers” and joined our sister campuses in the 21st century. There is no good excuse why UCSB cannot simultaneously address our parking crisis while also acknowledging that a Ph.D. alone does not entitle someone to special parking privileges at others’ expense. If a faculty member or anyone else wants premium parking spots, then they will just have to fork over the extra dough. And I am willing to bet that their bank accounts are a bit larger than those of a majority of staff and students.

Eric Zimmerman is a staff member and a UCSB alumnus.