Folks in charge of regulating parking at Kansas University have a love-and-hate relationship with rule violators.
As a financially self-sufficient operation, KU Parking Services' budget is built on the premise that thousands of tickets will be issued annually to people breaking the letter parking regulations.
But the same staff responsible for writing those tickets and collecting those fines sympathize with students who run up parking fine debt.
"A lot of cashiers try to ... convince people they're spending money unwisely," said Donna Hultine, assistant director of Parking Services.
She said new students should develop good habits about use of parking spaces. Don't be the student who once racked up $600 in parking fines before changing tactics. And avoid joining a handful of students who routinely pay about $200 a month in tickets and tow charges.
"They know us by our first names and come in every month," Hultine said. "Just be smart about where you park and when you park."
Novices on campus should be advised that they shouldn't expect to drive on campus at 10:30 a.m. Monday or Wednesday and expect to find a parking spot next to the academic building where their next class is.
"That is absolutely the worst time," Hultine said. "Front door parking is unrealistic."
At crunch time, the hassle-free spaces are in lots on West Campus, at the Lied Center's park-and-ride area or in the big lot next to Memorial Stadium.
At KU, about 15,000 parking passes are sold for 11,000 parking spaces on university property. A parking permit doesn't guarantee the holder a parking space.
Nevertheless, about 10,000 students pay the $85 annual fee to gain access to yellow-zoned lots. About 1,000 people acquire a $130 park-and-ride combination pass that gets the holder a parking space at the Lied Center and a seat on the campus buses.
Fees, fines unchanged
Parking permit fees and parking fines will remain unchanged this year in recognition of the state's sluggish economy and steep student tuition increases. Permit-related offenses are $20 each, and parking meter fines are $5.
Hourly and permit rates for the university's two parking garages also will stay the same. The garage north of Allen Fieldhouse has 778 spaces, while a newer garage north of the Kansas Union has 818 spaces. Annual debt payments for the garages total $1.5 million, which has proved to be a budget challenge for the department.
"We don't anticipate building another for awhile," Hultine said.
She said students with a parking problem shouldn't rely on second-hand insights of a dormitory staff member, sorority sister or an uncle who attended KU in the 1980s.
"Ask us at the parking department," Hultine said. "You'd be surprised how often people don't think to simply come in and talk with us. We can help people find solutions to their parking needs."
For that kind of information, call 864-PARK or e-mail the department's staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The rules and consequences
The department produces a Parking 101 primer to help students avoid confusion, frustration and, maybe, a tow charge.
Here are highlights:
Permits come in either a sticker or a hanging tag. A ticket will be issued if the holder doesn't display the permit on the rear windshield or from a rearview mirror when parked on campus.
Read and understand parking lot signs. Each lot has signs at the entrances to indicate the type of permit allowed and the hours of restriction.
Each person can buy just one permit.
If a person lends a vehicle to someone else, the car's owner is responsible for any tickets issued on campus.
If a permit holder gets a new vehicle, place the hanging tag in the new vehicle and register the new car with the parking department. If the holder has a sticker, peel it off (use clear tape and a razor blade) and bring it in for a trade (even if it's in bits and pieces).
Full price will be charged to replace a lost or stolen permit no exceptions.
Using a lost, stolen, forged or altered permit will result in the removal of the vehicle from campus, a $65 fine and possible criminal charges.
The parking department isn't responsible for tickets being removed from a vehicle. l Once parked on campus, in most cases, the easiest way to move between classes is to walk. Traffic during a class change can produce gridlock.
Unpaid parking tickets can result in a vehicle being towed as well as placement of "holds" on enrollment and transcript paperwork.