By Shawn Ness with Reporting by Max Weissman | October 11, 2021
Edited on October 14, 2021
A public petition calling for parking reform has garnered 384 signatures after being shared on Instagram. The petition was made in response to a number of students being displeased with UAlbany’s approach to parking enforcement.
An Instagram account named “ReformUAlbanyParking” made a number of posts promoting a petition that demands parking reform on the UAlbany campus. It calls for the reduction of ticketing prices and the Colonial Quad residential parking lot to be moved back to its original location, adjacent to the Quad.
Residents of Colonial Quad are now no longer permitted to park in the parking lot adjacent to the quad because it was turned into a lot designated for commuters and faculty only. Students with a residential parking pass are not allowed to park in commuter or faculty designated lots between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays. The Colonial resident lot has been moved across the street towards Empire Commons.
“Parking at UAlbany is a joke,” the Instagram bio reads, “Justice for Colonial Quad, first-time offenders and everyone else [gets] screwed over by UAlbany parking enforcement.” All five posts on the account urge viewers to sign and share the petition. “Short and simple” the petition bio reads: “The tickets given out by the parking enforcement are not only ridiculous but also extremely expensive to pay.”
Getting a ticket for his decal being on the driver’s side is what encouraged Jay Parker to start the petition. Parker is a junior living in the Freedom apartments who was issued a $50 ticket because his parking decal was on the driver’s side of the windshield instead of the passenger’s side, violating a rule that states that decals must be placed on the right, passenger side of all vehicles. He did not make an attempt to appeal his ticket, as he believes that “typically after using an appeal they get rejected.” Parker had already appealed a prior ticket.
According to Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, 65% of parking appeals are granted. "PMTS [Parking and Mass Transit Services] is not trying to be punitive," said Carleo-Evangelist. "Most of the time the appeals process ends in favor of the person appealing the ticket."
“The big problem [...] with Colonial is, if you’re a residential student on Colonial, you can’t park in the Colonial lot,” says Peter Shine, a junior living on Freedom Quad. “You actually get a ticket for parking there.” Many students living on Colonial are upset because they now must walk a far distance to the residential lot across the street, opposed to using the lot in front of the Quad that they were permitted to use just a year prior. This was done due to the fact that the campus was less populated during those times, according to Jason Jones, the Director of Parking and Mass Transit Services.
Some students believe that the parking rules and regulations are unclear and difficult to navigate. “It’s very confusing and hard for people who are just starting to park,” says Shine. Shine believes there should be more warnings for first-time offenders.
Although the university currently does not offer warnings for first-time offenders, between the weeks of Aug. 16 and Sept. 8, most all parking-related citations are issued a $0 courtesy warning to allow students to acquit themselves with the parking lots on campus. Since July, a total of 3,041 parking-related citations have been issued, according to Jones.
Despite these complaints, the number of citations issued by the university has declined 40% over the last seven years, according to Carleo-Evangelist. Jones believes that almost every ticket can be avoided by visiting the parking and mass transit website, saying “It’s a really beautiful website and it has a ton of information.” Students also have the opportunity to file an appeal for citations that they deem to be unjustified.
The rules surrounding parking on campus were loosened during the pandemic. Freshmen who were previously unable to park on campus were allowed to during the pandemic, and commuters and residents were allowed to park in any student parking lot, according to Jones. Now that campus has opened back up, those rules have been rescinded. Jones said, “Our goal is not parking enforcement; it’s more parking facilitation.”
Most of the citations issued came from people who had placed their parking decals on the wrong side of their vehicle, or they were parked in the wrong lot, Jones stated. There is a parking advisory board made up of staff as well as a few students that Jones meets with once a month.