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Friday, November 28, 2014

ASUNM parking summits give drivers a voice

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By Frida Salazar / New Mexico Daily Lobo

A parking citation sits on a car outside of George Pearl Hall, where parking is not allowed, on Monday afternoon

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The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico and Parking and Transportation Services are collaborating to incorporate student voices on the University’s parking availability.

Jenna Hagengruber, ASUNM senator and vice-president elect, said when she was elected to the Senate, her most immediate goal was to communicate with PATS about the student complaints she heard regarding a perceived lack of parking and the fines incurred from citations.

Many of students who have approached Hagengruber are dissatisfied with the amount of parking available at the University, she said.

The amount of parking spaces is much less than the amount of people who visit campus every day, Barbara Morck, director of PATS, said.

“There are approximately 44,000 people on campus every day and approximately 13,000 parking spaces available for them to park in,” said Morck in an email statement. “The UNM Master Plan has identified many of the main campus surface parking lots as potential sites for new buildings, which will result in the loss of proximity parking.”

An estimated 44,000 citations were issued in FY 2013, she said. These citations generates an estimated $715,000 in revenue, which is used primarily to maintain parking structure and lots.

“The cost of a new surface parking lot per space ranges from $6,000-$8,000, and the cost in parking structure ranges from $24,000 to $42,000,” Morck said.

Hagengruber said both she and Sen. Earl Shank have been intensively working with PATS over the past year to make sure that students’ voices are heard when it comes to parking.

ASUNM and PATS decided to have a parking summit, which took place in April, the goal of which was to address student concerns, brainstorm possible solutions and highlight ways in which students can get involved, Hagengruber said.

“I think the underlying goals were reached. I don’t think that we are going to have answers to all of the problems immediately, but because we have had that conversation with the students and the administration, I think it creates a bridge to a future where we could create solutions,” she said.

A few of those solutions were building a second parking structure, modifying the ratio of parking spots to parking passes sold and starting a new program called Park Share, in which multiple people would share a single parking spot, Hagengruber said.

One of the things many students don’t understand is that PATS is a self-funded department and so they do not get any money from student fees, Hagengruber said. She said many times students get discouraged with apparent lack of progress or listening to student complains, but that PATS is certainly hard at work.

“Students think that they are not doing anything or that there is no progress being made, but they are working so hard and so consistently to put forth an effort for our campus,” she said.

A few of the ways students can participate in the discussion are through email, personal visits to the office and through feedback given to other UNM offices, such as the dean’s office or the Accessibility Resource Center.

The next Parking and Transportation Summit will be held in fall 2014, Morck said. She said there will also be a student survey released in the fall semester.