CSUN students go the distance to avoid paying for parking

CSUN students are parking as far as three blocks away from campus to avoid purchasing parking permits and save money.

Jorge Moraga, 23, a CSUN student double majoring in history and Central American studies, is among the students willing to walk more than 15 minutes to campus.

The cost of a parking permit for a semester is $180, $360 per academic year or $6 for a day pass, according to the Parking Transportation Services & Special Events website.

“I have parked as far as Vincennes and Yolanda, but the distance doesn’t bother me, because I don’t have to pay,” Moraga said. “But once you get a ticket, it defeats the purpose.”

Fines are issued when drivers violate any parking regulations, which were recently increased in Sept. 12 of last year, according to the Los Angeles Parking Violations Bureau. They range from $50 and up. Violating the anti-gridlock zone, as Moraga mentioned, costs $158.

The value of parking permits is determined by how much it costs to run and maintain the facilities, according to Capt. Alfredo Fernandez from Parking & Transportation Services. Both University Budget Planning & Management and Facilities Planning, Design & Construction evaluate the operational cost and set a price, Fernandez said.

That price can be increased for various reasons, but the main one is when the demand increases, requiring more structures to be built, Fernandez said.

“This is a commuter campus, and as the years continue, and more and more students need parking, it becomes necessary for us to start finding ways to get more parking,” he said. “We only have so much real estate, so the most obvious way to go is to build parking structures because they go up.”

Parking structures are built with bond measures, much like a loan, because the university cannot pay thousands of dollars upfront for a structure, according to Fernandez. The bond is solicited from the chancellor’s office and has to be paid back over a number of years.

For students paying the parking fee, the permit is well worth it.

“Time is important to me and I want to get here on time so the fastest way is to get a parking permit, park here and walk three minutes to class,” said Tochtli Nava, 24, a CSUN transfer student majoring in journalism. “I don’t have to worry about getting a ticket here,” he said.

Safety is one factor for students opting to park on campus. Among female students, the biggest concern is safety, especially at night.

“I get out late at night,” said Michelle Tehrani, 24, a CSUN alumna currently completing her masters in school counseling and who purchased a parking permit. “I’m surprised the streets are not well lit, especially the crosswalks, that’s very dangerous. It’s not safe,” she said.

Although students who park off-campus don’t pay for parking, they run the risk of receiving a parking citation or getting their car towed when they violate a parking regulation (such as street cleaning days, timed parking, expired parking meters or parking in store lots). These tickets range from $50 to $70.

“What’s lethal is the anti-gridlock zone,” Moraga said, referring to the timed parking along Nordhoff Street, a favorite street parking location among students. “Once 4:30 hits, parking enforcement and the tow truck start towing cars.”

The best street to park on is Vincennes between Darby and Reseda, due to its close proximity to campus, said Kelly Carrillo, 22, a senior child and adolescent development major.

The street also does not have a time limit, which serves as another bonus for students hoping to keep their cars parked for hours at a time, she said.

But because of the location and unmonitored parking, the area is often congested, and parking can sometimes be hard to find. Carrillo believes Vincennes between Reseda and Yolanda is the next best option.