La Verne Magazine
The Universitys Parking Maze
by Robert A. Thurman
photography by Jason Cooper
Sometimes Ill go through a whole book in a day, says Henry
Negrette. With people parking everywhere, short of the sidewalk, Negrette, one
of five of ULVs campus safety officers, has plenty of reasons to put his
pen to work. A parking ticket can set violators back $20 to $330.
It is just so frustrating; I feel like it is just a waste of my money!
This statement comes from Danielle Vernetti, 21, after realizing she received
yet another parking ticket while parked near the corner of B Street and Bonita
Avenue adjacent to the University of La Verne campus. A senior at ULV and a
resident assistant for the Brandt Hall dormitory, Vernetti received a $30 parking
ticket from the La Verne Police Department for violating La Verne Municipal
Code 10.76.050B, parking on the street without a preferential parking permit
between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Vernetti admits she received at least
10 tickets while attending ULV but claims she was confused by the permit parking
I have been here for four years, and it was not until this year that
I have received so many parking tickets, she says. I have seen the
parking sign that said, Permit Parking Only, and since I had a ULV
permit, I thought it was all right to park here. I didnt know it meant
a preferential parking permit. Many students could become confused by that.
Vernetti is not the only one who has received a parking ticket for an on-campus
infraction. The University has had a constant parking problem for sometime.
According to LVPD statistics, 5,946 parking tickets were handed out last year
alone. Four hundred and seven of these citations were for parking without a
preferential parking permit in residential areas.
A majority of the tickets on campus come from residential parking violations,
says Bill Witzka, LVPD police officer in charge of parking enforcement. A
lot of the students get confused with which is school parking and which is city.
They think that if they have a ULV parking permit, they can park within the
preferential parking zones.According to Witzka, the preferential parking
permit was enforced nearly five years ago when the LVPD started receiving calls
from residents complaining that they could not park in front of their own homes
because students were taking up space. Today, residents still call the LVPD,
begging them to ticket students who park in front of their homes.
La Verne citizen Elias Castro is one of the neighborhood leaders who complained
about the lack of parking in front of his home. Castro, a fourth generation
La Verne resident who now resides on the 1500 block of Third Street, grew up
on the 1800 block, adjacent to the University. He says that when he visited
his elderly mother at the family home, he was frustrated by the Universitys
cars spilling into the neighborhood.I would stop by my mothers house
every evening, and there would be no place to park, says Castro. So
what we had to do was go around the back, unlock the gate and park in the back.
So, for my sister or any other company that would come by, there would be no
place to park, so they would have to park on the 1700 block and walk. It was
a real inconvenience.
Castro soon discovered that other neighbors in the area had the same problem.
Consequently, he and his neighbors signed a petition to propose parking permit
zones and then presented it to the City Council. The city approved, and the
parking permit zone signs were put up in the neighborhood.I have no problems
with the University. I personally feel very close to the University, growing
up in its shadows, says Castro. I feel that it is a great asset
to the community, and without the University, there would be no La Verne.
Even though preferential parking violations are a major problem for ULV students,
the single largest money maker for the city is violators of La Verne Municipal
Code 10.40.210, overnight parking. Last year 3,758 citations were issued for
overnight parking violations, and three months into 2003, 1,413 overnight parking
citations were already written. Between the hours of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., overnight
parking throughout the city of La Verne is prohibited without a $2 overnight
parking pass. The city allows a 30-minute cushiona vehicle can be parked
between the hours of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. for a maximum of 30 minutes without a
permit. However, for students living in the Studebaker-Hanawalt and Brandt Hall
dormitories, the issue of overnight parking is confusing. According to Brian
Worley, ULV director of facilities management, C Street south of Bonita Avenue
is a safe zone for overnight parking. It is easy to see how students could get
confused about where to park overnight on campus; the only information signs
stating La Vernes overnight parking policy are at city entrances. The
LVPD claims it has no way of separating ULV student overnight violators from
La Verne resident violators. Ernie Granillo, ULV mail clerk in the Student Center,
says he receives 20 pieces of mail in an average week for parking violations.
I see ticket payments come in every week without exception, says
Granillo. A high percentage of people tell me that their ticket was for
overnight parking violations.
ULV students are finding ways to outsmart the LVPD and Campus Safety. For
violating vehicle code section 22507.8(A), parking in a handicapped parking
space without a handicap permit, the fine is the steepest out of them all: $330.
This vehicle code requires that a handicap sign must be posted and painted on
the ground. If one is present without the other, the LVPD cannot cite the vehicle.
During the academic year, the handicap signs in front of the Arts and Communications
Building were constantly disappearing. It doesnt surprise me,
Witzka says. People always try to find any way to get around the law.
But it is considered theft, and if caught, they could be prosecuted by the law.
It is a misconception that getting a ticket from ULV Campus Safety officers
is like being pulled over by a senior citizen community volunteer. The LVPD
trains ULV security in ticket processing. Campus Safety has the power to cite
vehicles for 20-minute parking violations, permit parking violations and handicap
parking violations. Even though Witzka and the LVPD take the issue of parking
and law enforcement seriously, Campus Safety tries to be more understanding
to faculty and students. Henry Negrette, 20-year ULV Campus Safety agent, says
that the tickets given out daily can vary from two to 25, but he does admit
that he tries to cut the students some slack. I hate to give students
tickets, says Negrette. When people park in the 20-minute parking
zone, I might come back and check it 30 or 35 minutes later, because I know
students cant always afford the $20 fine.
Of note, out of all the revenue that comes from the various parking citations,
including those that take place on the ULV campus, not one cent comes back to
the University. Director of Campus Safety John Lentz claims there is one reason
Campus Safety is still determined to patrol and ticket students even though
the revenue goes to the city and not the University: compliance. The school
gets no money for tickets; the city gets the money. But were not after
this for the money. The major issue is compliance, says Lentz. The
concept is compliance of the law, and if people were aware of the consequences,
then maybe they would think twice.
Dr. Tom Harvey, La Verne City Council member and ULV professor of educational
management, says he does not see a problem with the revenue stream. I
dont see a problem with it at all, because we have to pay for our officers
and the police department, Harvey says. They [students] are a part
of the city also. If you get ticketed, you get ticketed because you are not
on private property. You are on public lay way. According to Ronald Clark,
city of La Verne finance officer and deputy treasurer, all traffic violations
go into a Traffic Safety Fund, which includes money from DUI and other vehicle
storage release, parking violations, vehicle code court fines, interest income
and other vehicle fees. The estimated revenue from parking violations totals
$145,000. Clark says he has no way of separating revenue from parking violations
on the ULV campus from the rest of the city. Clark does not have an opinion
about where he thinks the money should go.Im here to protect the
city, not the University, when it comes to revenue, Clark says. My
department just collects the money and accounts for it.
The issue of parking citations and revenue is a symptom of a larger problem:
lack of parking. There are simply not enough parking spaces to accommodate the
number of students and faculty, who often circle the parking lots for a space.
La Var Williams, junior business administration major residing in the Oaks residence
halls, says that peak congestion times exist. The times between 5 p.m.
and 7 p.m. are the worst, Williams says. Sometimes it could take
me up to 30 minutes to find a space when Im going to my room, and sometimes
I might even have to park across the street from the old post office or even
in the parking lot on B and Bonita.
Worley says students may find it most difficult to park during the busiest
times of the day, which are between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m.
He says the parking problem on campus can be resolved with a little exercise.
The problem is that students want to park close to their classes,
Worley says. Virtually anytime, if you know where to park, and you are
willing to walk a bit, there are spaces available. I have never seen the First
and E streets parking lot full. Worley notes that the parking situation
on campus is minimal compared to larger universities. He believes it is based
on students perception of the problem. But just go over the hill
to Cal Poly, Pomona and see their parking situation. Go to any large institution,
and your class could be anywhere from a mile away from where you parked. Everything
is just a matter of perspective.
The amount of cars spilling into residential neighborhoods has caused the
University to formulate plans for additional parking. According to Hal Fredericksen,
city community development director, the city and the University are working
together to resolve the parking situation, and, contrary to what many might
believe, they have a very strong working relationship. I dont think
that there is any conflict at all between the University and the city,
Frederickson says. In fact, if anything, we use a word called partnership
a lot, and a partnership is really important. The University has its goals,
and the city has its goals. The Universitys goals are to grow and be as
successful as possible, not only as an institution, but as a business. The city
has a responsibility to its residents and to our business community in Old Town
La Verne. But with most of the things that we do, we make sure they are consistent
with the needs of all three.
City code requires that a business must have enough parking to accommodate
its customers. With the constant flow of traffic circulating around campus,
the business merchants downtown often complain to the city that their customer
parking spaces are taken up by ULV students. But according to Harvey, while
downtown merchants complain about student parking, they also benefit from it.
A good source of the businesses revenue comes from the students,
and during the summertime, a lot of businesses are hurting because students
arent here, he says. So they complain about the parking, but
they want the students to come anyway. It is a bit of a paradox.
The parking epidemic, says Harvey, is not new to ULV and the city, though,
in past decades, it was not as bad, even when the University began overflowing
with students. Harvey says the problem did not get out of hand until ULV began
to expand significantly. In 81, we started having some parking problems.
We started expanding, but not too bad, until Steve Morgan got here, Harvey,
says. Then he started expanding the University to become a tremendous
success, but with it came a parking problem. More students came. In turn, there
began to be more and more parking problems, so we are a captive of our own success.
As ULV further expands, it must have adequate parking to accommodate its growth.
The city code requires that ULV have a three-to-one student parking ratio, meaning
one parking space for every three additional students and a one-to-one staff
parking ratio. Student residents call for a two-to-one resident ratioone
parking space for every two beds. The city and the University assume that not
every student will be on campus at the same time in the day and that not every
student living in campus housing has access to a vehicle.
To cut down on cars, promising plans are in the works for ULV. According to
Fredericksen, the first phase of Goldline, a light rail transit facility similar
to a trolley, is supposed to open sometime this year. The track will run from
Los Angeles Union Station to Pasadena. Commuters should not plan on saving
money on parking tickets just yet, since the cost to complete this process will
be approximately $1 billion, and it could take up to 10 years before it reaches
its terminus in Claremont.
Perhaps a simple solution is that students who live near the campus could
ride their bikes instead of driving everyday. Indeed, Worley says he noticed
more students riding their bikes on campus this year than he has seen in a long
time. But the University is far from assuming a bike culture; there is a dearth
of on-campus bicycle racks, and the over flow commuter parking makes it quite
clear that ULV students were born into the car era. Another solution might be
to build another parking lot. But with that comes more problems, including finding
available space and gaining the money. According to Worley, in 1999 the University
and city considered building a parking structure on the tennis courts at D and
Second streets. They planned to build the tennis courts on top of the structure
or move them altogether. Other suggestions include the creation of carpool programs
or utilizing the Fairplex parking lots and shuttling students to ULV. Worley
believes the latter is the most likely direction the University will move, considering
the cost to build a parking structure tops $2 million. Parking structures
are one of the hardest things to finance, Worley says. And even
if we did charge people to park at the University, with the amount of money
we would charge, you could only imagine how long it would take to generate $2
million to build a parking structure. It could take a long time.
Nevertheless, the possibility of students and faculty paying for parking permits
fall 2003 is a reality. Lentz has implemented a $10 parking fee each semester.
He says the parking permit revenue will go into the Rideshare Program, which
would reward students who practice carpooling or use public transportation to
get to campus. The Lentz proposal hints that future parking permit fees could
possibly be structured according to convenience. Centrally located spaces on
campus could be more expensive. Permits to use spaces located on the campus
boundaries, such as the parking lot on E and Second streets, could be less expensive.
Some students feel that paying for parking permits would be acceptable if there
were guaranteed spaces for residents living in the dormitories. If we
have to pay for parking, then they should be able to guarantee us ample parking,
says Demetric Brown, junior computer engineering major. We should have
a parking permit with a number on it that reserves our parking space, and no
commuters should be allowed to park in front of the dorms. Let them park in
the street or in front of their classes, because they are only here for part
of the day anyway.
Even the free permit system had its firm adversaries, though. Eric Bishop,
director of academic advising and enrollment management, does not support the
parking permit system and has gone as far as boycotting it by refusing to park
on campus for a year-and-a-half. I never understood the rationale,
Bishop says. We dont charge for parking; we dont have designated
parking spaces; we dont issue citations for parking without a sticker.
Its impractical because there is very little visitor parking on campus.
It is not clear for visitors, and there is not always someone in security to
issue a visitor permit. We have 20-minute parking on campus, but sometimes peoples
business could take longer than 20 minutes.
Parking on campus has become a growing thorn in the sides of commuters, residents,
faculty and the city. But then there are those who believe it is better to have
a parking problem than not to have one. When I first moved to this community
in 1975, the University was quite smaller, and the downtown was sleepy,
Fredericksen says. My buddies and I made a point one night to play cards
in the middle of D Street, because we could; all the businesses were dead. Having
a parking problem is a good thing; it is a lot better than having a street where
you can play cards in the middle of it if you wanted to. The only thing worse
than a full parking lot, is an empty one.