Gerth awaits approval for parking fee increase

Greg Kane

A proposal by President Donald Gerth to nearly double semester parking fees over the next three years is currently pending approval from the California State University Chancellor?s office.

It is not known how long the proposal will be tied up in bargaining, said Ed Del Biaggio, vice president for Administration. It is being examined by the union?s representing instructors, police officers and others on campus who have the right to reject any fee increases imposed on them.

“[They may] bargain for months or for a week,” Del Biaggio said. “Who knows?”

Though Gerth has the authority to increase fees for students and non-representative employees, any proposal can be rejected by employees with union representation, Del Biaggio said.

When or what the outcome of the negotiations will be is hard to determine, particularly due to Sac State?s lack of experience in these types of situations, Gerth said.

“We have not had experience in the system with this kind of thing,” Gerth said.

The proposal would raise parking fees by $20 three times over 36 months, Gerth said.

Semester, monthly, weekly and daily parking permits would be affected.

“We have waited until we absolutely had to have the money,” Gerth said.

The fee increase would go toward the funding of a third and fourth parking structure on campus, Del Biaggio said.

Sac State is expected to see a large growth in enrollment in coming years, including 1,400 more full-time students next year and 400 to 500 more each year following, Del Biaggio said.

“Something has to be done,” Del Biaggio said. “Already it?s getting difficult to find spaces in the fall and at the beginning of the semester.”

Del Biaggio said the instructors and students he has talked to about the fee increase understood the situation and weren?t opposed to it.

“Students and faculty that I?ve talked to have been supportive of the proposal, which is different from other schools,” Del Biaggio said.

Students were unhappy about the possible increase, although there were mixed feelings about whether it is necessary. Junior Denise Hampton said students shouldn?t be punished with higher parking fees just because enrollment at the university is expected to grow.

“I think that sucks,” Hampton said. “That?s silly that we should have to pay because there are more students attending school.”

Junior Justin Powers said he?d have to see the numbers of incoming students and costs for building before he could say the fee increase would be justified, but added that it would probably be fair if it meant solving parking problems in the future.

“It?s better to pay for it now than suffer for it later,” Powers said.

Aside from private donations, there is no way to finance the construction of the parking structures but to raise the parking fees, said Director of Support Services Ronald Grant. State law allocates funds from the budget, tuition and even parking citations to other areas.

“Parking is totally self-sufficient,” Grant said. “Whatever parking we have has to depend on the permits we sell.”

A second parking structure on campus has been funded and is expected to begin construction in the fall, Grant said. The funds from the fee increase would go toward building two more, a grand total of four parking structures on campus.

The cost for building a parking structure would roughly work out to $8,000 per space, Grant said. Since the next structure is scheduled to have 1,000 available spaces, Grant said it?s easy to see why the fee increase is necessary.

“It?s the next two down the road that are going to cost the money,” Grant said.

Del Biaggio said that other schools have been forced to raise parking fees recently to accommodate the surge in enrollment. He said CSU, Northridge chose to double its parking fees, effective immediately, in order to solve its parking issues.

“We?re at least rolling ours in a little bit at a time,” Del Biaggio said.

If the fee increase isn?t approved by the CSU, Gerth said he is also considering a tiered parking system, where parking fees would stay at a base rate for the lots further from the campus and would become more expensive the closer they get to campus. The details of that system are still being worked out, Gerth said.

“The concept is, as you get closer to the center, it gets more expensive,” Gerth said.