‘Is that a spot?’: Students risk fines for parking

For freshman Monica Kramer, having a car on campus makes life easier. The French major from Upper Darby lives in Peabody Hall and parks outside the building when spots are available. “I leave it out

For freshman Monica Kramer, having a car on campus makes life easier. The French major from Upper Darby lives in Peabody Hall and parks outside the building when spots are available.

“I leave it out there because it’s convenient,” Kramer said. “I like having it there if you’re out late and you can’t get a ride home because the subway closes.”

Though she avoided paying the $324 fee to park her car in one of Temple’s secured lots, Kramer may be paying even more for tickets from the Philadelphia Parking Authority. She has accumulated two – a $41 ticket for parking in a bus zone, and a $301 ticket because her car’s trunk overlapped into a handicapped space.

Many students like Kramer avoid Temple’s
parking lots and opt for street parking to save money. But Parking Services Director Jim Cirillo said it is smarter to register your car than to risk a ticket on the street.

“We like to encourage everyone to get your car in a Temple parking lot,” he said. “It’s a secure way of protecting your investment.”

Also, parking on the street means you are 11 to 12 times more likely to get a ticket or have damage done to your car, Cirillo said.

“It’s a risk that some are willing to take,” he said.

Junior marketing major Maurice Demos thene received four tickets from the PPA while his car was parked on campus.

“I was a minute over the parking time limit and they gave me a ticket for $45,” he said. “The other ticket was for parking too close to the curb. I got three of those for $35 each.”

Demosthene, who commutes from Southwest Philadelphia, avoids public transportation
so he does not have to rely on the schedules. He tries to find parking either on the street or in non-affiliated parking lots surrounding Main Campus.

Though sophomore geography and urban
studies major Lisa Howe registered her car with Parking Services last year, she now parks on the street since it is in close proximity to her dorm, Elmira Jefferies.

But Howe has learned the risks of street parking first-hand. Last semester robbers broke into her car, which was parked on Jefferson Street, and stole her radio. The thieves were never caught.

“It’s a learning experience. I need to be more cautious,” Howe said. “I’ve seen people with busted windows. You just need to be safe and smart and don’t leave any valuables showing.”

Cirillo said Temple’s parking lots are now at a 90 percent occupancy rate, so some of the university’s 2,084 parking spots are still open. Though the Office of Parking Services sells close to 4,000 parking passes per semester, Cirillo said the office is able to over-assign spots because of commuters’ varying schedules.

If students were interested in attempting street parking, they should be courteous to the surrounding community, Cirillo said.

“We have noticed there are a lot more parkers that are parking on the street. This does create an issue for our neighbors,” he said, adding that parking off-campus can interfere with residents’ daily lives.

“There are suggested areas to park on the street and others we do not recommend. We want to be a good neighbor,” he said.A map of suggested street parking can be found on the Parking Services Web site.

There is at least one other alternative to parking at Temple. The infamous Dirt Lot located behind the TECH Center is usually filled to capacity and then some, Cirillo said.”Anything goes,” Cirillo said with a laugh in reference to the lot. “There are over 300 cars on that lot. It’s a free commodity, and some are willing to undertake the risk of parking

The rocky, uneven lot has no fixed parking
pattern, so cars can be trapped and commuters can be stuck for hours at a time.

“I like the fact that it’s free, but it’s a horrible lot,” Howe said. “You have to go two miles per hour or you’ll mess up the bottom of your car. That parking lot is ridiculous.”

Sophomore international business major Kelly Schramm said she does not know of any other university that has a dirt lot for their students.

“But if they pave it, they’ll have to start charging some type of parking fee,” she said. “If you’re willing to take the risk, then it’s pretty decent – even though it can be a bit treacherous.”The plot of land is not owned by Temple, which is why it is not maintained well by its “multitude of owners,” Cirillo said. The lot may end up in the city’s possession, which is when Temple could make an offer, he said.

“If it were to become available, [purchasing it] would certainly be considered,” but not necessarily for another parking lot, Cirillo said.

Despite all of the alternatives, students who park off-campus still risk a run-in with the PPA. Linda Miller, a PPA spokesperson, said students are not treated differently from the general public when appealing tickets.

“Students have a right like anyone else to have a hearing,” she said.The only way for tickets to be waived is when traffic signs are missing or parking meters are faulty, Miller said.

With her ticket under appeal, Kramer is attempting to fight her $301 ticket to get it reduced or waived. She even went to Parking Services to see if they would be able to help with her ticket, and though they were “on my side, they are not able to do anything.”

“On-street parking is out of our jurisdiction,” Cirillo said.Cirillo continues to urge students to stop taking risks by parking on the street and purchase
a permit through Temple, primarily for their own benefit.

“We try to handle things with students on a personalized basis,” he said. “We try to make them aware of where we have parking and emphasize that it makes a lot of sense to have a car registered.”

Chris Stover can be reached at chris.stover@temple.edu.

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