Permit system flawed but not at fault

Janelle Kelly, 20, Intercultural Studies, buys a parking sticker before her class starts. (Alyssa Hunter)

Adam Jones

Parking is a growing issue at Saddleback College and many students have the added hassle of dealing with temperamental daily permit dispensers around campus.

Students have been complaining about permit costs, citation costs, and parking in general for as long as colleges have charged for parking on their campuses.

Lately at Saddleback, however, the problem has been more with the permit dispensers rather than the cost of the permit.

Nick Bohen, 20, undecided, has had particularly bad luck with the daily permit dispensers.

“They just have problems. Mainly the one outside of the [Science and Math] building,” Bohen said. “If it’s sunny out I can’t read the screen, it eats my money, and they don’t even take change anymore.”

The parking officials understand that there are many concerns from students, and don’t want to charge students extra, but do have to enforce permit usage.

“Our intention is not to hinder the student,” said Andrew Craven, director of parking at Saddleback. “These are machines unfortunately, not people, but they are smart machines.”

Most of the problems related to the dispensers involve paper money. With the amount of wear and tear that a dollar bill goes through, sometimes the machine can’t read it, Craven said.

“Cards are real quick. Sometimes it’s faster than putting in the two dollars,” he said.

The machines accepted coins in the past, but the coin payment method had to be removed due to vandalism.

“We don’t take coin in the machine anymore,” Craven said. “We were getting foreign coin, paperclips, mayonnaise, leaves, and other things jammed in the machine.”

“We get out there as much as we can to fix the machines, and it is uncommon for the machines to actually be broken,” he said.

“I feel bad for the students that have problems [with the machines],” Craven said.

The parking officials encourage students to buy permits for whole semesters or a academic year. Not having to worry about getting a permit every day means less hassle for parking.

“The parking permits are $30 for the entire semester, which is probably cheaper anyway,” Craven said.

The average on-campus class has 31 class sessions, and $2 per day in a 31 day class is $62. Why pay double if it comes with the extra hassle of buying a daily permit?

“It isn’t some plot against the students. We want them to pay the machines if they don’t have a permit, because that’s how we get our revenue,” Craven said. “We get one hundred percent of parking permit sales.”

After all, more money for the parking services means more funding for more parking spaces and improvements to current parking lots.

“Just because the meter is broken does not mean you will not get a citation,” Craven said. “Go to another meter or come to the campus police and get a daily permit.”

“We actually saw more vandalism on broken meters than on working ones. Unfortunately, from the dishonesty of a few we had to make this regulation,” Craven said, in reference to paying for parking even if the meter is broken.

As for citations, the parking services dislike giving them out as much as students dislike receiving them, according to Craven.

“Everyone has the right to come and contest a ticket. That’s California law,” Craven said. “Every citation is taken case-by-case, and every review is read.”

“We get a small amount [of money] for citations, but most of the money goes to the state,” he said. “The citations are just to gain compliance [from students].”

After all, the parking service gets money from permits, and would rather students buy permits instead of having to pay citations. More money for the parking services means more funding for more parking spaces and improvements to current parking lots.

Maintenance wise, Saddleback’s meters are maintained by an outside company every three months, Craven said. Saddleback officials check the meters at least three or four times a week to make sure they are functioning.

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