Parking tickets and campus life seem to go hand in hand.
“It was a Monday, which is never good,” Tyler Sorensen says. “I figured, ‘Well, it’s a really cold day. I don’t want to walk very far.’”
Sorensen is pursuing his third year at Salt Lake Community College and, like many of his peers, figured it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to park without a permit.
“I did see the one-hour parking sign, but I had seen people parked out there all day, so I figured it’s probably loosely implemented,” he says. “I was parked out there for about three hours and when I went to my car, I realized, ‘Oh hey, there’s a ticket.’”
According to Rick Medley, parking services manager at SLCC, the Parking Services citation program has accrued $85,342 in 2019 revenue, and approximately 18,000 tickets are given out on an annual basis, with the Taylorsville Redwood Campus being ticketed the most.
On average, SLCC Parking Services has an approximate annual budget of $70,000 annually. The revenue collected from parking citations and permit sales fund parking operations.
“Keeping the lights on in the parking lots, the holes filled, [and] keeping the lines painted on the ground” are what citation income funds, says Medley.
The department’s revenue funds parking lot maintenance such as snow removal, sealing cracks, painting, signage and lighting as well as parking service employee wages and expenses. The revenue also helps pay for campus safety, which includes campus safety officers, armed police, and emergency management.
“There’s a lot that goes into it,” Medley says. “[The revenue] is basically salaries and benefits that we not only have to have for parking, but for campus safety and [funding] that goes into infrastructure.”
“We’re at the break-even point,” adds Medley. “It’s not as if we’re writing tickets and building buildings with parking funds.”
Medley says the average parking citation at SLCC is $15, and after the seventh day, the fine doubles. The penalty does not escalate after that.
“Each case is looked at differently,” Medley says. “Some tickets we hold people to the $15 amount, and kind of go into that history, which really plays a big portion of that. But tickets can get reduced, they get knocked down to a warning.”
About 1,500 citations are reduced to a warning and 1,000 citations are voided annually, according to Medley. Nearly 40% of appeals are granted.
Approximately 60,000 students attend SLCC, including online students. Of those 60,000 students, Medley says 13,600 have parking permits.
“We’ve tried to make that process even more seamless and easy for our students to be able to log on whenever they want, get their permit and be on their way,” he says.
The Parking Services website has options for students to purchase either a semester permit for $23 or an annual permit for $45. This allows students up to two license plates per permit.
“Buy a permit,” says Luis Aveyta, a five-year employee of the department. “Buy a permit online, come and park where you are supposed to. And then you will have nothing to do with us.”
Parking enforcement employees, like Aveyta, drive through the parking lots with license plate recognition technology, scanning and running plates against the parking database to see if a permit has been issued. If a permit does not exist, enforcement is alerted to write a citation.
Medley understands the actions of Parking Services aren’t always beloved.
“When you’ve taken a pound of flesh from people, there’s always emotion that gets involved,” he says.
Clayton Ollila, a parking service technician, says his interactions with the public are “generally pleasant” when they call regarding their citation.
“Folks who have just received a citation are generally full of questions,” he says.
Parking Services does know that not everyone will have a sunny disposition.
“Everyone in the Parking Services Department undergoes conflict de-escalation training with the Emergency Management Department once per year,” Ollila says.
When dealing with someone who is upset, Ollila says the key is to let them vent.
“When someone is upset about having received a parking ticket, they generally have a lot to say,” he says. “It helps them feel better to have someone listen to them. To listen to them actively, I like to get some identifying information so I can bring up their account and make sure our records match their account of events.”
Ollila tries to leave each situation with a bright outlook.
“I try to explain parking policy with a positive tone and look forward to the future. Even if I am unable to simply void their current citation, we can usually make sure they don’t get any more tickets. Not everyone will leave happy, but everyone has ample opportunity to make their voice heard and to prevent further issues.”
Medley describes the goal of the Parking Services Department as providing “equal parking for all that come to campus in a safe environment.”
Visit SLCC Parking Services for more about campus parking regulations.