Students may lose the $3.33 per quarter deal for night and week parking privileges next year, as an Associated Students Legislative Council vote last night may force Transportation & Parking Services to cancel the lock-in fee and replace it with a much more expensive permit system.
In a memo to A.S., Transportation & Parking Services asked for a fee increase to be placed on the A.S. Spring Election ballot in order to cover debt payments on two new parking structures as well as projected operating expenses. However, the council turned down the request in an 11-3-4 vote after two hours of raucous debate, with the majority claiming TPS had not proved its need.
Fee increases can make their way onto the spring ballot one of two ways. The first would be though the Campus-wide Election Committee, which requires organizations to submit requests earlier in the year, and the second is through petitioning the Legislative Council, which can place it on the ballot after a majority vote.
TPS currently receives a $3.33 per student per quarter lock-in fee, which was passed in 2003 to pay for night and weekend parking permits. This fee is up for reaffirmation on the Spring Election ballot. However, last night TPS provided A.S. with two possible increases to the fee. The proposed increases, TPS said, would provide students with the night and weekend permit they currently enjoy, and help pay its bills.
Because Leg Council voted to not approve either suggested increase, TPS said it must implement its third option for raising money: charging students $120 plus shipping and handling for an annual permit, $12 for a 30-day permit or $3 for a 1-night or 1-weekend-day permit.
Marc Fisher, the Associate Vice Chancellor of Campus Design and Facilities, who attended the meeting, said TPS would return the money collected from the lock-in if it cannot receive an increase. The logic behind this, presumably, is that by declining to take the lock-in fee, TPS would no longer be obligated to provide night and weekend parking at the $3.33 per student per quarter rate – which it says it cannot afford to continue – and could charge the more expensive permit option.
“The current thinking is that the money would be returned and parking won’t be available,” Fisher said. “But it is up in the air.”
However, after the meeting, A.S. Interim Executive Director Marilyn Dukes said if the $3.33 lock-in is reaffirmed, the Chancellor has the jurisdiction to make the final decision about whether TPS must provide weekend and night parking at that rate. She also said she believes TPS is required to honor what is on the ballot – and in the A.S. Legal Code, “to guarantee that all undergraduates will be provided with access to on-campus night and weekend parking the same as that provided to all other permit-holders” – and cannot return the funds.
“The Chancellor will have to make a decision,” Dukes said. “But if students accept the [reaffirmed] lock-in, TPS must honor the ballot measure.”
One of TPS’ lock-in fee increase options was to raise the fee from $3.33 to $4.22 per quarter – a $.67 increase plus the return-to-aid surcharge. The other option would add $1.25 and a return-to-aid surcharge to the current lock-in fee, bringing it to $5.00 per quarter.
The second option would have incorporated the additional cost of $.58 for data processing, shipping and handling on the permits, which otherwise cost $4.95 to send.
The council discussed the matter for over two hours and voted on several different measures, including putting each option individually on the ballot, as well as placing all three on the ballot.
Several council members said they felt the ultimate decision should go to the students.
“This is why we have a democracy,” Rep-at-Large Ajay Deshpande said. “Let the students vote. Why are we hording all our authority?”
However, External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Bill Shiebler said the ability to decide should remain with Leg Council.
“If you do put it on the ballot, you take the power out of your hands and you become powerless,” Shiebler said. “Just because the administration gave you two options of fee increases doesn’t mean you have to choose it.”
On Campus Rep Scarlet Chan said she and other council members still did not understand the need for fee increases.
“Why are we putting this up for the students to decide?” Chan said. “We are the students. We’re about to put something on the ballot that we don’t know anything about.”
After the meeting, Off Campus Rep Alex Van Wagner said he felt the council should have provided an option to students.
“By voting it down, the council effectively did not let the students decide this for themselves,” Van Wagner said. “It’s a risky situation.”