The Parking Ratepayers Board, part of UCSB Transportation and Parking Services, met yesterday in the Chancellor’s Conference Room to discuss impending rate increases for on-campus parking lots.
The board considered a proposal to institute a “tiered parking rate structure” in which the desirability of a parking spot would dictate the price of the spot’s permit. The meeting culminated with a motion to send Chancellor Henry T. Yang a recommendation to increase on-campus parking rates from $36 to $39 per month this school year.
According to board chair and geography professor Richard Church, the parking services did not generate sufficient revenue last year and will likely be forced to raise rates to account for their losses.
“The current rate structure is not going to cover our costs and there is definitely a sense of urgency,” Church said. “However, it is not possible to adopt anything until January 1 so we are going to be six months behind in terms of revenue generated from the new rates.”
The board plans to finalize a fee increase across the board by Nov. 1, which would go into effect Jan. 1. The tiered system, in which people have a choice between “A,” “B” or “C” permits, may be implemented in summer 2012.
The plan aims to maintain affordable parking options while raising rates for premium parking spaces. The new increased rate this year would serve as the cheapest rate group of the tiered system.
One of the main concerns during the meetings was raising prices enough to cover expenses without losing a significant number of customers. Church said raising the rates without fewer people purchasing permits presents a difficult balance.
“As we approach the $50 mark, demand will diminish a bit,” Church said. “This is a bit of a tight walk — if we raise rates too high we will start to see diminishing revenue. We do have many spaces that are empty even now.”
The board debated extensively whether to increase rates annually or all at once this year. Graduate student representative Kate Deutsch said she was concerned that students would be outraged if rates are raised all the way to $40 per month this year.
“I understand that the bottom line is we need to move it to $40, but I’m concerned about what people’s reactions will be,” Deutsch said. “As we move the rate higher, we’re going to meet more backlash. If we initiate the tiered structure with $40 as our new baseline, people will notice that their rates will increase by a considerable amount to park in the same spot. Financially, it works out but in terms of backlash from people I don’t know if this is the best plan.”
Associated Students President Harrison Weber said he would like to see some consistency in parking rates.
“We should have stability for cycles of four years,” Weber said. “Students should not have to pay increases more than once or twice in their years here.”
If the price hike is approved, this will be the first substantial increase in parking fees since 2000. Some other options suggested were salary-based parking rates and designating the lot near Harder Stadium a “D” permit lot.