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Amidst increased expenses, increased parking rates are necessary, TAPS director says
Starting July 1, parking permit rates on campus are scheduled to see an increase in prices. Permit holders have been emailed and notified of the upcoming increases.
According to the Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS), another email will go out with the option of renewal for parking permits. It will also explain how to enroll in payroll deductions for access to the electric vehicle charging stations.
For the 2019-2020 school year, parking rates will increase by up to $5 in each category of parking permits. C-permits will move from $55 to $65. Visitor parking will only increase from $9 to $10. Citation fines will also see increases.
Since 2009, there have been dollar increases in parking permit rates, until 2017 when TAPS made a $4 increase.
TAPS stated the costs to operate its facilities such as lots, roads and pathways have surpassed the rate increases over the past few years. With the lots operating at their capacity, TAPS has had to look at other methods such as stack parking that have also brought a financial burden to the organization.
As demand has increased over the years, TAPS is not looking to create more parking spaces or parking structures, with the exception of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital District. Instead, it has shifted its focus to alternative methods for getting people to campus and reducing single occupancy vehicles.
Clifford Contreras, the director of TAPS, said it is very open and happy to provide information to the community and the campus as to why these new increases are happening. Contreras mentioned he reached out to five constituent groups on campus to present the information regarding the price hike. The groups include the Academic Federation, the Graduate Student Association, ASUCD, the Staff Assembly and the Academic Senate.
Contreras spoke about the six areas that have caused the increase in prices. He mentioned base expenses that can range from employee salaries to the pens and paper they use. The unrelated business income tax is also a new expense for the organization. Other factors include the increased utilization of stack parking, the shuttle from the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and additional contributions to roads, paths and parking facilities. TAPS has also hired a new career staff employee. These expenses have amounted to about one million dollars for the upcoming year.
“We are a self supportive unit, we receive no money from the campus, the state or the federal government, so the money comes from fees and citations,” Contreras said.
In defense of the move to not build more parking areas or structures, Contreras spoke of the alternatives TAPS will look into.
One of the reasons behind this move is the sustainability goals TAPS is looking to meet. By the year 2025, TAPS hopes to reduce single occupancy vehicles by 10%, bringing forth alternatives to convince people to find other options.
“We are looking to encourage and reward people to choose an alternative to driving alone and as a result of that we would no longer need to build additional parking; instead we would have new programs and services,” Contreras said.
TAPS also hired a consultant to identify and make recommendations on the 10 best ways to incentivize commuters to no longer drive single occupancy vehicles to campus.
“We will begin our engagement process with the campus community and show them the top 10 recommendations of the report and that is how we will implement them,” Contreras said.
The community is a big part of the report. TAPS is looking to communicate what it wants to do and wants the community to provide feedback in order to find the best incentives to reaching the 10% goal. This engagement process will start in the fall, since much of the campus community is gone during the summer.
Some of the alternatives that were mentioned were creating vanpools to pick people up from certain communities, increasing car pools and providing subsidies for people who use these alternate methods.
In regards to student complaints about not being able to find parking, Contreras said the issue is not that there are no available spots, but that available spots may not be in convenient locations.
“The main complaint is that [students] can’t find parking, but we do provide parking,” Contreras said. “We can demonstrate where additional parking is located but where it is located, from the student perspective is that it isn’t convenient.”
With affordable housing being hard to find, many students look to other nearby towns such as Woodland to find housing. This in turn would make parking spaces essential to them. Contreras mentioned the best solution is to create more housing on campus and that would eliminate the need for parking spaces for many students. He cited the expansion of West Village and how that is creating less of a demand for parking structures.
Some students find West Village and on-campus student housing to be too expensive, however. For those who still choose nearby towns, Contreras reiterated that he can’t stop the demand for parking but the supply is there, it just won’t always be convenient.
Another alternative he mentioned was working with YoloBus to get those who live in nearby towns easier access to public transportation to alleviate demand for parking. He also suggested creating express routes to get buses from nearby cities to Davis
However, there is still an ongoing anti-TAPS sentiment from some of the student body. There are numerous complaints such as parking citations and not being able to find parking even with a parking pass.
Alex Robles, a third-year psychology major who commutes from Sacramento, explained what she thinks about the increase in parking rates and TAPS.
“I find that with the expanding student body, TAPS should have thought about building another [parking] structure because some students find public transportation inconvenient or feel unsafe,” Robles said.
Robles commutes from Sacramento due to the high rents in Davis and finds it cheaper to simply pay for a parking permit and deal with the commute. Nonetheless, it is still not easy.
“My house is about 25 miles from campus; I have to leave an hour and a half before my class so that I have enough time to get to Davis and account for traffic, then leave 20 to 30 minutes to look for parking,” Robles said.
The commute creates a cheaper alternative than Davis housing for Robles, but it comes at the cost of convenience and efficiency for the busy student. Robles also mentioned the idea that there are many areas designated for faculty and staff which aren’t used to full capacity while students may search for a spot for up to 30 minutes.
“The other problem is that you can buy a permit, but you aren’t guaranteed a parking spot,” Robles said. “I hear people complain about it on a daily basis, this is a problem that needs to be addressed.”
Written by: Alexis Lopez — firstname.lastname@example.org