That’s the Ticket: Parking Enforcement Becomes Public Safety Priority
By Michael Ferraresi
GCU News Bureau
The SUV in Lot J behind the College of Nursing had been there for days. Tickets were ignored and the vehicle continued to sit there, clearly parked illegally.
GCU parking enforcement officers Michael Chavers and Tod Burnett hovered around the vehicle, once again checking the floor mats for evidence of a decal or temporary pass that might have slipped from the dashboard. But they noticed nothing. They agreed that if the vehicle wasn’t moved by the end of the day, the immobilization boot would go on.
Since the beginning of this month, GCU’s two new parking enforcement officers have cited dozens of motorists each day, including students whose $5 parking passes prohibit them from parking in lots where others paid $200 for the privilege of being a little closer to classrooms or residence halls.
In the first week of citations, the parking enforcement team cited up to 120 motorists in a single day, according to the campus Public Safety office. Most citations have been for those with no decals, or for those who have a decal but parked in the wrong locations.
“It’s the zone parking. That’s the biggest complaint,” said Chavers, who worked for Sodexo for a few months on campus in food services before shifting over to Public Safety. He and Burnett both started just two weeks ago.
“They feel that if they bought the decal, they can park wherever they want,” Chavers said.
GCU Public Safety Director Henry Griffin estimated most citations go to students. The common citation is $20, both for parking in the wrong zone and for parking without a proper decal. But others are facing $50 fees to remove “boots” or $100 for repeat offenders who park in disabled spots.
Closing parking loopholes
Griffin said people have been warned about the possibility of citations. His team issued warnings in lieu of citations beginning Aug. 24.
|COMMON PARKING ISSUES|
The parking enforcement officers began ticketing Sept. 4 and are now averaging around 70 citations each day, Griffin said.
Part of the reason for stricter parking enforcement is the Public Safety office’s need to better monitor the flow of vehicles and visitors to campus. As a result of the increased security, it’s simply tougher for students to get onto campus without proper parking credentials.
Some students are circumventing the paid parking requirement by parking illegally in the annex lot at the northeastern corner of Camelback Road and 35th Avenue, taking up spots for businesses such as Subway and the barber shop next door.
Griffin, who has worked with other campus offices on parking regulations since last semester, said most students are getting the message as Public Safety continues to close some of the parking loopholes.
“One vehicle, we looked on his seats and he had like four visitor passes,” Griffin said. “So every day he had been coming, going to get (a decal), and never got it. He kept saying he was here visiting, knowing he could park in the visitor spots. So all of that type of stuff is being curtailed.”
Other students are parking in neighborhoods around campus, or at Little Canyon Park, and walking to campus. Griffin added that those locations are unsecured and students should be aware that their vehicles are not monitored off-campus.
New standards, technology in place
The hand-held, touch-screen technology Chavers and Burnett use on a daily basis is streamlining parking enforcement at GCU.
Their ticketing devices scan decal barcodes directly off the windshield. They can call up a vehicle’s history, showing any past or unpaid citations, in a fraction of a second.
Tickets are printed directly off another device both men keep attached to their work belts.
Chavers and Burnett, a former firefighter who’s certified as an EMT, spend no more than a couple minutes on each vehicle. They will sweep the Camelback Road parking garage from wall to wall in a couple hours on most days.
Both men have quickly discovered how contentious an issue parking can be on a college campus.
As Chavers spoke patiently with an angry parent who futilely questioned a ticket he had issued near Thunder Alley last week, Burnett said he too has faced frustrated customers.
“You just have to keep your patience, even if people are coming unglued on you,” said Burnett, adding that he is happy to explain policies and procedures to any motorist with a question.
“You don’t want to say ‘appeal it’ and walk away,” Burnett said. “That’s not good customer service.”
Contact Michael Ferraresi at 639.7030 or firstname.lastname@example.org.