Hazelton: CSU’s parking deficiency puts a financial burden on north-of-campus residents

Paul Hazelton

Finding parking near campus has always been about as difficult as deciphering hieroglyphics without the aid of the Rosetta Stone. But soon, with the institution of further residential parking permits, it will be completely impossible.

For those of you who are unaware, the residents residing in the neighborhood north of CSU (i.e. from Mason to Shields and Laurel to Mulberry streets) have recently voted 73 to 27 in favor of instituting two-hour parking for commuters Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. starting Feb. 29.  Similar ordinances exist throughout the city and areas east of campus will implement the plan in March.

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This program, nicknamed RP3, sucks for a lot of people and a lot of people are livid about it. They argue that almost no one attends classes for an even two hours, and even if parking on campus was affordable, there aren’t nearly enough spaces to go around.

I agree with that sentiment, and as a student that’s lived far from walking distance, I sympathize with you. But fortunately my current apartment is literally right across the street from the Oval, above Mugs. (I’m on the fourth floor, and yes, I’ve seen you stumbling drunk down Laurel while yelling belligerently.)

As such, I’m somewhat happy with the ordinance. For me, it means that when I drive to the liquor store at noon, I will return to find a parking space near the place I live, which currently, in any neighborhood surrounding CSU, qualifies a miracle matching the resurrection of Lazarus. And while many of us mistakenly believe that these neighborhoods are populated exclusively by college students like myself, they include many families, individuals and businesses unaffiliated with our school who pay their bills on time yet have to spend half an hour daily trying to find a parking spot. That, in my opinion, isn’t fair.

What I find even more disturbing, though, is that any household/business in the area with more than one car will have to pay for their permits. The first permit is free, the second permit costs $15, the third $40 and the fourth and fifth permits respectively cost $100 and $200 annually. Now, it’s true that that’s not all that much money and that three of the five are one-time fees. It’s also true that most people don’t own five cars, but in what universe are people expected to pay to park in front of the houses they own or the apartments they rent?

This also affects you, the students, because after all the residents have paid for their permits, you’ll be allowed to apply for one at $40 a month — roughly what we spend on a single utility. That amounts to a lot of money over the course of a semester, and for many college students, it’s not financially feasible.

Another vexing detail contained within the plan is that guests will have to let parking services know that they’ll be parking in the neighborhood for longer than two hours — otherwise, they’ll likely receive a violation. On top of that inconvenience, if the guest stays more than 24 hours, they’ll need to pay $10 for a temporary permit.  

Still, in my view, the anger surrounding this rule has less to do with the city’s ordinance and more to do with CSU’s complete lack of adequate, affordable parking. Without that variable, this would likely be a non-issue.

The administration has argued that there are plenty of other ways to get to campus, which is true. Fort Collins hosts a robust public transportation system (the Around the Horn bus service is free with a student ID), not to mention that you can walk or ride your bike. However, for people who live far away, these options — especially during the winter months — seem like trekking to Mordor and often result in being late to class.

In the end, CSU has an obligation to provide a solution to the parking problem that they have largely caused by neglecting logistics in favor of further construction and permit price gouging. Perhaps instead of spending millions on a contentious new stadium that’s ripped up large swaths of parking spaces for a football team that nearly never makes the ESPN highlight real, we should invest in parking for a student population that grows with every incoming class. And maybe, just maybe, the price of our exorbitantly high tuition that has plunged most of us into debt should cover the cost of our parking.       

Collegian Columnist Paul Hazelton can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @HazeltonPaul.

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