November 3, 2006

Parking Rate Rage: Top Spots Break $2k

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Students are outraged about Cornell’s parking situation.

“I resent the fact that Cornell is ripping me off to such an astounding degree. Cornell does not seem to comprehend that it is located in rural upstate New York, not midtown Manhattan,” said Kent Michels ’07. Michels currently pays $96.61/month for on-campus parking on North Campus, while he lives on West.

Students who do not wish to pay on a month-by-month basis can purchase an annual permit for $641.10, which guarantees students a parking spot on-campus for a full year. Michels said his brother at Hamilton College pays only $50 per year, while he must suffer the “exorbitant cost of parking on campus.” In addition, Michels is not able to use his car on weekdays due to its distance from his dorm. Instead, he waits until weekends when it is more practical to make the trek.

“[Parking permits] are intentionally expensive to discourage students from bringing a car. This is a walk-able bike-able campus that has great transit services,” said David Lieb, assistant director for public information at Cornell Transportation and Mail Services.

To which Michels responds: “Besides the bus ride [to the mall] being almost interminable, who doesn’t enjoy waiting outside for a bus on a cold, rainy, miserable day in Ithaca?”

Other students who do not use on-campus parking may face even greater charges. Jason Shapiro ’07 currently pays $900 per year for parking at his off-campus residence, and premium Collegetown spots can go for over $2,000. Shapiro claims he did not research Ithaca City permits well but would not have bought one anyway due to their inconvenience.

In truth, Ithaca city residential permits may be the way to go but only for the lucky few. While Ithaca issues permits for $45/year, there are restrictions for which zones residents must live in to be eligible, according to

Nonetheless, Shapiro and Michels could be saving a lot of money by researching off-campus options. Novarr-Mackesey, for example, a student renting company rents out parking spaces for $50/month on East State Street. Other students rent their unused off-campus parking spaces for as low as $25/month.

But most students go with the way of convenience. “[My parking spot] is right next to the house, so it’s very convenient,” Shapiro said. “I hated having to walk up and down a big hill last year.” Shapiro had to walk from his Cascadilla dorm to the parking lot in which his car was parked. Michels claims he did not research private parking options due to “laziness.”

However, even students who purchase on-campus parking permits still run the risk of being ticketed. Generally, students are unable to drive their cars to class without parking very far away. While metered spots are available throughout campus, they typically have three-hour maximums.

“I’m always nervous,” said Shapiro, who now double-checks signs after receiving a parking ticket his freshman year. He said that he got a ticket after he parked outside of Carpenter Library at 7:15 p.m. when he was only allowed to park there after 8 p.m.

A standard ticket at Cornell runs about $25. But usually, warnings are issued at the beginning of the year when students are still adjusting to the enforcements, Lieb said.

Visitors too, are not protected from Cornell’s strict parking laws. Matthew Tymann, a junior at Georgetown University also received a parking ticket. “By itself, I thought the ticket was pretty fair. However, I’ve visited Cornell a few times and I always have issues with parking. Everything seems to be reserved for some specific group, and I’m never sure where is actually open to visitors.”

Visitor passes actually cost $8/day to park in the parking garage on Hoy Road, according to Lieb. He also said that there is generally no free parking on campus during business hours, aside from the 10-minute drop off zones.

People seem to expect there to be sufficient parking because Cornell is a rural campus.

Tymann, for example appears to share Michels’ sentiment: “If it were a city campus, I could understand it more, but on the vast expanse that is Cornell, I would think there’d be sufficient room for people to park.”

Actually, Cornell does appear to have limited space. According to Lieb, Cornell has about 10,000 spots, 6,500 of which are used for day-to-day services. Cornell works to “protect those spaces,” Lieb said, as they are necessary for commuter students and faculty. However, daily transgressions occur from students, faculty, and staff alike.

“We do as much as we can in terms of educating people.” Lieb said that information about parking is sent out to students, especially freshman so that they may have better knowledge about their options.

But to some like Michels, who hold a relentless grudge, this is simply not enough. “I plan to deduct [these costs] from future alumni donations. [Cornell is] not getting a cent from me.”