Campus Law Opinion OPINION: It’s time for parking services to change By Sam Smith Posted on March 7, 2018 7 min read 0 1 600 Ohio University parking map. Screenshot via Ohio University. Have you had a hard time parking on campus? You’re not alone. Opinion writer Sam Smith says it’s time for Ohio U’s Parking Services to change. In a random poll of 64 Ohio U students, 83 percent said they knew someone who has received a ticket from Parking Services. The poll also revealed that over 56 percent of stude In an unscientific survey conducted by Sam Smith, 82 percent of people said they knew someone who received a parking ticket from parking services. nts have a negative perception of the department. Forty-two percent were neutral, and two percent of those asked had a positive perception. More people have negative feelings about this department than people who view it positively and indifferently combined. Finding a spot to park at Ohio University already presents enough of a challenge to visitors and returning students. Returning to one’s car to find a ticket on the windshield only raises stress levels. While most parking violations are $10 or $15, some fines can be as high as $250 for the most severe infractions. Recently, I fell victim to a fine of $55 for being parked in a fire lane for only four minutes. Here’s what happened I received my ticket when I returned to Ohio U after a weekend trip home. I parked behind my dorm on Back South, as I have numerous other times, to unload. I got out of my car at 7:35 p.m. to put my stuff in my room. I returned within four minutes to find a $55 ticket slapped to my car. Fifty-five dollars is a steep price to pay relative to the balance of my own checking account and certainly to the checking accounts of other students. I was determined to dispute the ticket since I was only gone for a short period of time. I tried calling Parking Services, and, although it had officers out giving tickets that Sunday night, there was no one in its office to take calls. I had to visit its office the next day. According to the receptionist at the office, first offenses related to parking are often dropped. However, in my case, the charge could not be dropped due to the In an unscientific survey conducted by Sam Smith, 56 percent of people said they had a negative view of Ohio U Parking Services. fact that I was parked in a fire lane. The receptionist then argued that there were two vertical signs to alert that a fire lane was there; however, there were not any such signs. The only indicator was the chipped paint on the asphalt that was barely visible at night. Parking Services later told me the signs may have been stolen. I soon became aware that the ticket must be paid within 10 days of the offense in order to appeal it. This was problematic. My largest issue with the ticket was its high cost, which I would have to pay even sooner if I wished to have it appealed! A director from Parking Services told me in an email that “enforcement staff generally do not write citations in fire lanes until a vehicle has exceeded 15 minutes within a fire lane.” I was there for four minutes, and had received the ticket within three. I was additionally told that I could have parked in the purple lots behind my dorm without issue, but they were all completely full upon my arrival. Full parking lots are often the case at Ohio U. What’s next? Ohio U has gotten into a situation in which it excessively penalizes people for its own lack of parking spaces. That is infuriating. While the staff of Parking Services is generally kind, it is the policies that are flawed. Nobody denies the necessity of parking regulation for safety and accessibility. Regardless, adding additional parking, relaxing regulations and fines, and informing students as to where they are allowed to park would all be reasonable improvements.