Parking: more decals than spaces

Construction on campus has decreased the amount of available parking spaces by more than 20 percent, with more registered vehicles than there are spaces, according to numbers provided by administration officials.

As a result, officials said the university is trying to be as lenient as it can be about illegal parking. However, Police Chief Willie Bourda noted the $200 and $100 annual fees that faculty and students pay for parking decals only guarantee entry onto campus, not a place to park.

Prior to the start of construction of the new Professional Schools and Science Building and the new Student Union, both adjacent to Cook Center, the campus had 900 parking spaces available, according to Dr. Edgar Chase, vice president of facilities and planning. However, 200 parking spaces, or 22.2 percent, of the spaces have been lost – at least temporarily – to construction space needs, leaving 700 available spaces.

On the other hand, 825 parking decals have been issued for the academic year, including 295 to faculty and staff at a cost of $200 and another 530 to students at a cost of $100. Thus, a deficit of 125 spaces exists: When comparing decals to available parking, if all 825 vehicles are on campus at once, 15.2 percent of individuals with decals have no legal place to park.

Those numbers don’t include individuals who park on campus without decals.

Juana Green, office manager in the university’s Public Safety department, said campus police are being “very lenient with parking violations because we are aware that there is limited parking space,” with decisions made on a case-by-case basis. But she added that exceptions cannot be made for state-regulated violations, such as parking in handicapped designations, in emergency zones and illegal parking that stops the flow of traffic.

So far this semester, campus police report the installation of 45 “boots,” or vehicle immobilization devices, on vehicles that either were without DU decals or that were parked illegally, but no tickets have been issued.

Green said no decision has been made about enforcing boot-removal fees. Parking fees range from $25 to $100.

Chase said about 50 parking spaces will return to use once construction is complete. He said the administration is looking at other parking options, but the idea is in the early stages.

In the meantime, the police chief and Green contend paying vehicle registration fees does equal the right to a parking spot. Bourda said parking decals only guarantees entry onto campus, not a parking space.

Green said, “If you have a decal, it allows the campus police department to ensure that your vehicle is safe.”

Natrell Batiste, a sophomore English major from New Orleans, said, “Parking is terrible because of construction, and the people without decals are part of the problem.”

But Brandon Oliver, an urban studies sophomore from New Orleans who doesn’t have a decal, said, “I park in areas that have a lot of parking, so I don’t feel that I am part of the problem.”