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September 07, 1989 - Image 51

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-09-07

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The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition - Thursday, September 7, 1989 - Page7

A Nightmare on Any Street


,Students pay dearly to park in Ann Arbor

By Michael Salinsky
Daily Staff Writer
a Parking Hell: a short story
' Another frigid Ann Arbor day,
Rmuch too cold to walk to class. It
.was always too cold, or I was too
."date to make that fabled journey by
*foot. So, I got behind the seat of my
vintage '83 Oldsmobile and motored
toward campus, not giving my car or
myself enough time to warm up.
Driving down South University, I
passed the myriad of one-hour me-
'ters that were taken away by con-
struction. To my left was the city's
South Forest metered parking struc-
iure - however it would be too
busy on a cold day like this, and it's
just a little too far away for my
taste. There's always the univer-
sity's parking structure on Church
St., but alas it's reserved exclu-
sively for faculty and staff until
Wait, what's that up ahead? A
Imeter opening up, but it's a one-
hour maximum and my class is an
hour and a half.
I decided to gamble. Waiting un-
til the last possible moment , I
'dropped in my quarter for fifty min-
utes, and a nickel for the remainder
of the hour.
I rushed back from class but
slowed down once I realized I was
too late. Ann Arbor's finest (and
' fastest) had beaten me. There on my
windshield ( I wonder what they'd
do if I took the wipers off?) was the
dreaded parking ticket - violation
n umber one, expired meter, two dol-
lars if paid within an hour, three
dollars within 14 days. It was a
.cheap one, but it was even cheaper
to let that citation join its brethren
-n the depths of my glove compart-
A couple of weeks later I again
motored off to class. This time I
*found a long-term meter on
4 Thompson Street. I confidently
pumped in my change. Returning,
there was no ticket under my wind-
shield wiper, but no windshield
wiper either. In fact, there was no
Wait, that notice on the tickets
-six or more unpaid violations and
they could tow your car, or issue a
warrant for your arrest (some
w choice). Let's see, I was nabbed in
' staff lots twice, there was the ex-
pired meter the day I forgot I had

driven my car, that fire zone viola-
tion with its intolerable 25-dollar
penalty, the time I tried to squeeze
between meters and got ticketed for
the infamous "other" ...it had been
"That's all I can stand, I can't
stand no more!" I said in my best
Popeye voice. "I won't drive to
campus any more. I can't, I don't
have enough money to get my car
Everybody has similar stories
about parking in Ann Arbor. Along
with the Bell Tower, Shakey Jake,
and the five dollar pot law, the lack
of parking is something the city is
renown for. There are some things
about parking that aren't known -
some myths, misperceptions, and il-
lusions. Let's set the record straight.
First for all you new students,
there is no truth to the fable that
first-year students can't bring cars to
campus. Who's going to stop you?
Of course, it is hard to find a
permanent spot near the dorms, but
some permanent spots are indeed
available. Most people know about
the commuter lots by Crisler Arena
and on North Campus (1410 spots
combined). Unfortunately, these lots
are not available for overnight park-
Unbeknownst to most, the uni-
versity maintains a permit lot for
students next to the Coliseum, about
ten minutes from campus. The 255
spots in this lot go for $170/year,
and go on sale September 5 at the
parking operations office at 508
Thompson. Last year, the first per-
son lined up at 3:30 in the morning,
and according to administrative as-
sistant Betty DeWolf, "if you
weren't there by 6:00, you had no
chance of getting a spot."
DeWolf said, however, that spots
opened up during the year, "I think
the students are pretty much warned
at orientation that there is no park-
ing, so there is little demand."
Some prime spots are available,
courtesy of the city, and 40 dollars
of your money a month. The steep
price does not deter people - there
is a 1100-person waiting list for the
approximately 2300 spots. Students
who get spots are forced to pay for
the summer months or else go to the
bottom of the waiting list. For in-
formation on these spots, you can
call 994-2707.

OK, say you don't have enough
money, or you live too far from the
Coliseum, or maybe you just have
an overdeveloped sense of adventure.
You test the streets, lots, and abun-
dant parking rules of Ann Arbor.
Some facts for those who dare.
In the month of March, the city
gave out 35,467 parking tickets, and
towed 375 cars, 130 for six or more
violations. Records aren't kept on
how many of the victims were stu-
dents, but you can bet its a lot.
Although they may seem om-
nipresent, there are only 16 full-time
parking patrollers in the city. The
university supplements this staff
with three of its own security offi-
cers. Even with this expenditure, the
university, contrary to popular be-
lief, derives no monetary benefit
from the tickets given in its lots.
The city of Ann Arbor is paid back
for patrolling these lots by the fines
that are collected.
Parking fines generate approxi-
mately 2.2 million dollars for the
city, which goes into the city's fund
of about 50 million dollars. The 2.2
million isn't earmarked for any sin-
gle purpose. The fund however must
pay for the parking force plus the
seemingly huge parking violations
Of course, if all tickets were paid,
we'd be talking more like five mil-
lion. During the past school year,
the city held an amnesty period dur-
ing which old tickets could be paid
at a 50 percent discount rate. Out of
$1.35 million possible, the unoffi-
cial counts is around $330,000.
City treasurer, Richard Garay, was
"hoping for another $150,000," but
said he was not disappointed with
the results.
It all seems kind of silly, doesn't
it? Productive people spending all
their time regulating parking, col-
lecting fines, etc. And students, who
have enough problems and financial
obligations already, forced to concern
themselves with getting the right
spot. Apparently, that's the way it's
going to stay. One might hope that
the university would try to at least
assuage the problem. It hasn't.
"Parking was never set up for
students. It was set up for staff and
, faculty," DeWolf said. "The univer-
sity has not addressed the problem of
student parking."
Recently the university has had
enough problems grappling with a

suzi SILBAR/Daity
What's this? Two tickets! Once again the finest ticketing police force has zapped an unsuspecting stuaent.
Will he pay them or let them sit in his car? Most students choose the latter.

shortage of faculty and staff parking
spots and is threatening to increase
the cost of staff permits.

So, if you're going to have a car
and no spot on campus, you're go-
ing to have problems. Happy hunt-

ing, and may be the parking
not be with you very often.


4 '
. '

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