UCSB Transportation and Parking Services (TPS) will raise the cost of parking permits starting July 1 to help pay for the new structure currently under construction in Lot 22, despite some calls to find other means of financing.
Revenues generated from the fee increase, which was approved by the Interim Parking Committee in March 2003, will help pay for the $22 million, six-story, 1,000-space parking structure. The price of monthly permits will increase from $35 to $43 and daily permits will increase from $7 to $8. Nighttime permits will also increase from $2 to $3 and weekend permits will increase from $10 to $15 per month. TPS Director Tom Roberts said the last parking fee increase occurred in 2000 when the fees went from $30 to $35 for monthly parking passes.
Roberts said the new structure would accommodate what TPS projects to be a 900-space deficit next year due to the number of incoming students. The structure is scheduled for completion by summer 2006.
“We wanted to let people see that they are paying for something, make it happen when the actual work was happening,” Roberts said.
The rate increase is one of many steps TPS is taking to cover the current $2 million deficit in the project’s budget, Roberts said. To save money, TPS has gone through numerous program reforms, including charging for night and weekend parking, making cuts in the department and installing pay stations. A revised finance package will be presented to the UC Regents in March 2005.
Ray Aronson, project manager for the parking structure, said unforeseen increases in the cost of concrete and steel caused the project to go over its allocated budget.
On Thursday, Roberts presented the fee increase and building construction plans to the Parking Rate Payers Board, an advisory committee consisting of several faculty members and students. History professor and Payers Board member Harold Drake said the price increase is unnecessary and premature.
“There is a great legacy in which ratepayers know they have been turned over and have the change shaken out of them,” Drake said. “Nobody ever thinks about the people who pay for [parking] because they just pay for it.”
During the meeting, Drake said the board needed to take a more active stance against the price increase.
“We need to decide if this board is going to be a passive, manipulated body,” he said. “This isn’t a board that is going to listen to a presentation and say, ‘OK.'”
Drake said he thinks there is still time to brainstorm alternatives to the fee increase. For example, TPS could reserve 400 to 500 spaces in the new parking structure to rent as long-term parking for faculty, staff and students that currently park in Isla Vista.
“We have junior faculty leaving this university because they can’t afford the cost of living here,” Drake said. “I don’t know why we have to keep using a flat learning curve.”
To avoid permit fee increases, Roberts said one in five faculty members would need to begin using alternative transportation, thus eliminating the need to build another parking structure. Roberts said 85 percent of students currently use alternative transportation.
In conjunction with the construction, Roberts said new programs will be implemented to help alleviate the parking shortage, including a car-share program, an on-campus shuttle system and a shuttle between the university and the Amtrak station.
“The goal to reach is to have students bring a car here as an option, not a necessity,” Roberts said.
The car-share program would station cars on campus and allow students and faculty to pay for use of these cars by the hour.
“This time we are trying to plan ahead,” Roberts said. “It’s time for us to plan for our people.”