Students frustrated with parking process

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Largest number of applications received for Fall 2015

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Security recently held a forum to address concerns students had with parking on campus. Photo by Matt Marciniec.

Many students have expressed frustration with the process of obtaining a parking permit at North Central. On Nov. 9, Brent Peters, the campus safety and security manager, hosted an open forum for students to express their frustrations about reserved parking spaces and the application process.

Peters expressed a desire to communicate better with students. “Communication is missing on my end,” Peters said. “I am not communicating with students.”

Students at the forum said that they were frustrated about the fact that security reserved a handful of parking spaces for vendors. Peters encouraged the students to keep in mind that allowing these spaces to be reserved is helping benefit the North Central community.

Vendors are third parties that come to North Central for various reasons, usually to do some form of construction work or repairs. “Most vendors will not come to work here if we do not provide them with parking,” said Mike Cappelli, the executive director of business and technology, who oversees parking.

Security did not know how many spots needed to be reserved until after the semester started. Nine on-campus residential spots were reserved for vendors. No applications were denied and no permits were taken away because of this. There are simply nine more permits than available spaces. “I acknowledge that this was a mistake,” Peters said. “This will not happen again.”

“Parking is one of our biggest frustrations, and we are not the only institution in Minneapolis with the same problem,” said James Crabtree, the campus safety and security director. “No one has a good parking solution because of the amount of people we have crammed in a downtown area.”

Security received over 350 applications for on-campus parking this semester. “A very large number compared to years past,” Crabtree said.

Like any downtown location, parking space is limited at North Central. There are 208 spaces available for on-campus residents. Ninety-eight spaces are available for commuters and adjunct faculty. There is one parking space available for every Elliot East condominium, totaling 38 spaces. In addition to these, Security reserves approximately 100 street parking spaces, which are processed through the city.

Because of the large number of applications, upperclassmen who were used to applying at the last minute and receiving an on-campus parking space were frustrated when their applications were denied.

Ben Murphy, a senior business administration major, is one such student. Murphy applied for on-campus parking two weeks before the semester started. A week later, he received a letter saying that his application had been denied.

“I waited too long,” Murphy explained. “We had a lot of new freshmen come in and a lot of them drove. In previous years it was different. I was not counting on it being like that. But it’s my own fault for not applying sooner.”

Murphy, who drives a Mazda 3, received $500 of tickets because his tabs were expired. “That would not have happened had I not been on street parking,” said Murphy.

The process of obtaining a parking permit can be difficult for newcomers to the process to understand. Security approves applications strictly on a first come, first serve basis. According to Peters, permits do not carry over from semester to semester because a student’s continued enrollment is not guaranteed each semester.

An application is considered complete after the entire application process is completed. Students who did not have their on-campus residential application approved are made aware of the options available to them.

A student whose application was not approved is immediately put on a waitlist for residential parking. The student can apply for street parking, voiding their residential parking application. Security does not allow any students to have multiple parking applications.

“I highly recommend that sophomores, juniors and seniors register for parking when they register for classes,” said Cappelli.

The software that security uses to track applications does not take seniority into account. The program simply tells security the order in which the applications were received.

According to Cappelli, seniority used to play a role in granting applications for on-campus parking. The old system had issues. With the old system, a sophomore could apply in May but have their permit taken away if a senior applied in August and no spaces were available. “There are far less complications when you are not trying to track seniority,” Crabtree said.

“I think that it should be first come, first serve,” Murphy said. “I don’t think that it would be fair to limit freshmen from bringing cars in, or giving seniors first dibs.”

In a statement in the Sept. 14 Rama Report, the security department said that it would begin to take extra measures to “resolve the crisis.” According to Crabtree, security officers conducted surveys of the parking lots nine times every day. As a result, complaints related to parking went down.

“I think that a lot of complaining about security that happened was simply people misplacing their frustration,” Murphy said. “It is our responsibility. We know that we need to apply every year,”

Security is always open to feedback on all of its systems. “If you think that something is unfair, or something went wrong with your particular case, let James [Crabtree] know,” Cappelli said. “We would be happy to figure out what happened and change the system to make it better.”

When asked if there are any plans to expand parking at North Central, Peters said that even though North Central is aware of potential options for expansion, he was not currently aware of any plans to do so.

Parking registration for the 2016 spring semester has been open since Oct. 26. Students are encouraged to register now if they have not already done so.