OPINION: The problem with CSUN’s overpriced parking

Illustration

David Mesquita

Illustration

Brandon Sarmiento, Opinion Editor

One thing that most students can agree on is that CSUN’s parking rates are too damn expensive. As a commuter school, CSUN should not expect students to pay up to $439 for campus parking. As a commuter student who travels over 80 miles back-and-forth from Oxnard to Northridge multiple times a week, I had no choice but to succumb to buying a semester permit. The pain of making one big payment was more bearable than purchasing a parking pass every time I stepped on campus.

Is paying for tuition not enough to give students rightful entry to campus? The barriers to college are already high with the costs of tuition, housing and gas, among other essential expenses that many of us are responsible for. The last thing students need is to decide between shelling out hundreds of dollars worth of parking passes or going through the stress of finding unguaranteed and unsafe street parking.

In 2013, CSUN ranked fifth in having the most expensive parking permits out of all 23 California State Universities, according to The Sundial. Now, CSUN ranks eighth in having the most expensive permits. This excludes two CSU campuses, as they did not have updated parking information online.

Although CSUN’s parking prices do not rank as high as almost a decade ago, that does not mean they haven’t increased. They most certainly have! Just like my heart rate when I purchased a parking pass on the first day of this semester.

Parking rates have increased across the board in comparison to a year ago. An all-day daily pass cost $8 during the 2021-2022 academic year. Today it costs $9.50. A semester-long general parking permit was $213 last year, whereas now it is priced at $219. For an annual general parking permit, it has risen to $439. That’s almost $13 more than what it cost in 2021.

CSUN’s Parking and Transportation Services was contacted for a comment on why parking rates have increased, but no response was given.

CSUN students expressed discontent with the school’s parking rates in an anonymous survey. Results showed that all 64 survey respondents felt that the cost of parking was expensive. 84.4% believed that campus parking should be free. Many of the students’ reasons for free or reduced parking were because they felt tuition was costly enough, as well as the increased price of gas.

Illustration (Brandon Sarmiento)

One student also mentioned a large donation that CSUN received in the summer of 2021, questioning why it couldn’t have been invested in campus parking. “The school received an ‘unprecedented’ gift of $40 million dollars and we can’t allocate some of those towards free parking?” asked the student.

Understandably, a 64-student survey may not be an accurate representation of the CSUN community’s opinions on parking. However, 69.7% of students, staff and faculty who commute to school regard the cost of parking as an important factor in their decision for transportation, according to the CSUN Institute for Sustainability’s report on commuting behavior. It’s safe to say that a majority of CSUN’s community, especially the students, have some level of concern about the rates for parking.

If parking permits are expensive, why not settle for a daily pass? It doesn’t seem like a lot. That’s until it’s taken into account that CSUN students typically drive an average of four days a week to campus, according to the same CSUN Institute for Sustainability report.

A $3 two-hour parking pass can equate to $192 over a semester for the average commuter student. Daily passes seem futile at that point.

I can’t speak for everyone, but spending the effort and money to drive a nearly two-hour round trip to campus makes me inclined to spend more time on campus than I do commuting. This similar mindset may urge students to opt for a long-term parking permit. For a semester’s length, that either means paying $109 for a nearly 20-minute walk from the F10 lot or almost $220 to park in a lot much closer to campus.

The only practical solution to resolving CSUN’s expensive parking is to lower the cost of the permits. Surprising, right? CSUN had the means of lowering parking rates by roughly $53 in the 2022 spring semester following the three-week virtual hiatus. Why can’t they do the same now?

It’s understandable that the university is a business and needs money to ensure the best experience for students, staff and faculty. However, this shouldn’t come at the cost of exploiting college students for their money through parking. That’s what tuition is for.