October 10, 2003

Parking Ticket Got You Down? You're Not Alone.

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On a campus as vast as Cornell’s and with weather as inclement as Ithaca’s, driving here is often perceived as a necessity. Parking, however, can be a nightmare.

According to David Lieb ’89, Cornell’s communications and marketing manager, in the 2002-2003 academic year there were 42,283 parking tickets issued on campus. Of those, 6,842 were warning tickets that demanded no fine but informed recipients that their inspection or registration had expired.

The 35,441 remaining tickets were issued with fines attached to them, at an average of $21.73 per ticket. Lieb noted that the parking enforcement is a “revenue mutual program.” The fines incurred pay for information and enforcement staff, equipment and staffing of the appeals department — funds that are not nearly covered by the fines on parking infringements.

Approximately 52 percent of tickets were issued to students, with the rest being distributed among faculty, staff, visitors and vendors, according to Lieb.

For the roughly 30,000 people on campus, there are approximately 10,000 parking spaces. As a result, he said, while the transportation department strives for flexibility, restricting parking is very important.

Itay Budin ’07 disagrees.

“The whole parking system is so stupid,” said Budin, who has a parking permit for North Campus and has received tickets for inadvertently forgetting to display his pass.

On North Campus, the lot he parks in “is empty,” he said. “There’s so much room, it shouldn’t even be an issue.”

As of Sept. 30, 979 campus residents had been assigned parking permits and 1,259 commuter permits had been given. Lieb said that this was “the lowest we’ve had in quite a while,” which he attributes to a recent push for students to leave their cars at home and take advantage of Cornell’s public transportation system.

So far, 5,904 OmniRide bus passes have been sold on campus. This increase is largely due, Lieb said, to the transportation department’s “getting the word out earlier and more often to both our continuing and newly matriculated students.”

The parking permit revenue is also lower than the actual costs of parking, so the department receives a subsidy from the University.

In a case still pending a verdict on a re-appeal, one sophomore parked his car in early September on the left side of South Avenue in front of the fraternity Lambda Chi.

The right side of the street bears two parking signs, one reading “No Parking Anytime” and another denoting permissible parking with a permit on Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The left side of the street, however, bears no such signs. Edgemoor Street, which runs parallel, has parking signs on both sides of the street.

The sophomore’s appeal of the $25 ticket was rejected, and after re-appealing three weeks ago, he still has not heard back from the Commuter and Parking Services Department.

“I understand the department’s need to regulate parking; however, they should use more standard parking signs and put them in clearer places,” he said.

Commuter and Parking Services manager John Durbin recognizes this problem, acknowledging that most violations “all fall back on signage and people being confused by what permit belongs there.”

As a result, Durbin and Lieb enclose a piece of paper along with the parking permits listing the specific privileges associated with the permit.

Lieb also asserted that there are no particular hotbeds for parking violations.

“People are going to choose the closest spot to whatever building they need to be in,” he said.

Archived article by Sarah Boxer