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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Admin Attempts to Free Space with Increased Fines

Stony Brook commuters should expect to fork over some more cash if they are found parking in the wrong places.

SBU has enforced a new increase in fine structure since Nov. 1, in which some fines have been doubled.

This is the first increase in parking fines since the 1970s and now SBU is ‘keeping up with the times,’ Assistant Chief Douglas Little of the University Police said.

While Little, who is also head of Parking Services, argued that most fines in local municipalities are still costlier than those found at SB, he admits that, ‘keeping up with the times,’ was not the main reason for the increase.

According to Little, the goal of the increase is to make people more observant of the parking regulations and consequently free up reserved parking spaces.

In making the decision to raise parking fines, the University reasoned that if people continued to park illegally, regardless of the number of people on campus, there would always be a dearth of parking spaces.

Little credits President Kenny for increasing available parking over the last few years, as the University has grown substantially.

The increase in the number of students enrolled is apparent, especially, in the South P commuter parking lot which is now filled to 85-90% capacity at peak times.

The increase in the use of South P lot verifies that more commuter students are adhering to the parking guidelines. Administrators increased fees in the attempt to force more people to park where they are allowed.

Little admits that almost 99% of all students, faculty and staff park legally. However, he hopes that past-violators will think twice about parking illegally with the increase.

The take home message from the University Police is that the fee increase negatively affects only those who violate the rules and benefits all by opening up spaces because of increased compliance of the rules.

Little hopes that there will be less tickets written because people will be more inclined to follow the rules. The fee increase decreases the justification that the cost of the fine is minimal. He also hopes violators ‘get the hint’ and will realize that parking illegally is wrong.

The Parking Services write 95% of the 5,000 summons given per month. The six employees who do the enforcing do not have quotas they have to meet. Similar to the University Police who do not have quotas for moving violations, Parking Services tickets violators they find. The police simply look at violation stats and hope to fine many, if not all, violators.

The revenues that are made by collecting the fees are reinvested in the University as a whole and not solely to the police department.

Some students take the risk and park illegally because they have not been caught in the past and if they did they paid the $15 fine, remembers Little. Now, the same violation will cost $30.

The costliest parking violation on campus is using a designated handicap spot or parking in fire zones which now merit $100 fines per violation. The most common violation on campus, however, is unauthorized use of Faculty/Staff lots. These lots, many of which surround the Academic Mall, are continually used by students for convenience.

If a summons is wrongfully given, the student or faculty member can appeal the ticket to the Parking Services office.

Parking violations in faculty lots are enforced Mon. through Fri. until 3:30 p.m. After that time, however, anyone is allowed to park in those lots that are likely in closer to the class rooms.

The debate over the fine increase has gone on for years, Chief Little said. He has been a proponent for the increase for some time now.

After the Stony Brook council passed a proposal for a fine increase, it was discussed and voted on in Albany. The increase was posted on the Parking Services website one month before the new fines went into affect.

Nobody doubts that there will still be violators and risk-takers even after the fine increase. Time will tell whether the hopes of fewer violators correspond with the steeper fines.

If all turns out according to plan, the University sees the increase as a benefit to all who use the parking services on campus. Although some parking areas around campus are more appealing than others, the cost is larger if convenience and time is considered greater.

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