Any APU student with a car knows the parking situation on campus isn’t exactly congenial. The lack of adequate parking spaces, particularly on East Campus, is well known.
Additionally, APU designates specific lots and spaces on campus that are for the use of faculty and staff only. Students are prohibited from parking in these areas from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., APU’s business hours.
Sometimes in desperation for a place to park, students still use these spots, which often results in parking fines. This has been generating negative conversation about the price of parking tickets as well as the lack of parking on campus for both students and faculty.
Kirra Bento, a sophomore public relations major, expressed her concerns regarding how quickly and surprisingly the tickets are issued to students.
“I have a medical disability that made me hesitant to move away from my parents’ support, but knowing that I had a car if needed helped,” Bento said. “Once I actually moved into Trinity, I was shocked to find out that I had already acquired two parking tickets for the two hour time span that I had parked my car in the Engstrom lot, not knowing that I wasn’t allowed to park there.”
According to the APU Vehicle Code, section 6001, APU has an escalating parking fine structure in place. The purpose of an escalating fine is to deter the offender from committing the same offense. But this policy in action is excessively punitive for students.
If the same car is illegally parked in a faculty-designated spot every day of the week, the first day’s fine would be $35, but escalating to $275 by the sixth day. That amounts to $840 in fines for the first six days of violation.
Parking is at a premium at APU. It is crucial for faculty and staff members to be able to park in order to get to their classrooms and offices. So it actually makes more sense to tow a car to make space available for its proper use. It would get to the root of the problem by immediately opening a parking space instead of fining students repeatedly for hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
Section 1004 of the APU Vehicle Code gives APU the authority “to tow and/or relocate vehicles from APU property per the California Vehicle Code.” Towing can occur if the violator is deemed a habitual offender as stated in section 5000 of the Vehicle Code, which requires four offenses.
All students would benefit from better education on the vehicle code, especially the prices of parking fines. Information about the fine structure should accompany the citation for the first offense. The tickets for the second and third offenses should also be accompanied by a warning regarding towing for habitual offenders.
Neither Biola University nor Point Loma Nazarene University have as extreme of a parking fine structure as APU. According to their vehicle code information available on their websites, Point Loma chargers a flat fee of $55 per offense, and Biola has a minimum additional fine ($20–40) for repeat offenders.
Ultimately, the ideal solution to deter students from parking in the wrong spaces is for the university to provide adequate parking near university housing. New parking structures would provide a long-term solution and allow students to keep their cars close by.
In the meantime, better vehicle code education for students and stricter enforcement by towing cars would help prevent students from paying an obscene amount of fines.