Parking problems

Students complain about machines

If you’ve ever paid for parking, then chances are at some point you’ve dealt with a faulty parking meter or ticket vending machine.

Rob Hanson, Behavioral Sciences major, hasn’t purchased a parking permit yet, and remarked the machine is often broken.

“It’s a problem. My first semester, I was running late for class and the thing was broken, so I just parked and I got a ticket,” said Hanson.

Kevin Morse attempted to park in Lot A, but the machine in the front was broken, and so were the other ones in Lot A. After finding the Police Services kiosk near the library closed, he had to walk down to Police Services on the first floor of the College Complex. Only after they sent someone to confirm the machine to be down did they issue him an amnesty note.

“The whole ordeal took 30 minutes and it should have been a 30 second thing,” said Morse.

“I call [when it’s out of order],” says Chris Fabbri. “I keep a note in my car saying I tried pay,” adding that he often gets tickets regardless.

“I’ve used the machine three times,” said soccer dad Aaron, who comes to LMC weeknights for his kid’s practice. “The first time, I put quarters in and they were spit right back out. The second time it had an out-of-order sign on it. The last time, the lady ahead of me put a bill in and dollars started flying out!”

“If a student is having trouble with a machine or they believe it to be broken, it is up to them to call us so we can assist them,” said Senior Traffic Officer Michael Hotton. “This a relatively large campus so we cannot be aware of every machine that’s out of service at the same time.”

According to the Contra Costa Community College District Police Department’s website, “If a machine is not working, there are several others on campus and it is your responsibility to purchase a permit from another machine.”

The website makes it clear that an inoperable machine or meter does not excuse unpaid parking and lists it as one of the 13 reasons that parking violations will not be dismissed.

“It is often discovered that the permit machines are working fine. The inability to get a permit from the machine is most often due to operator error,” states the website.

Despite the occasionally harsh perception that some students have of parking enforcement, the LMC police services insist their primary goal is to help students, not penalize them.

“There is a misconception that we’re out there everyday writing a hundred tickets and profiting from everyone, and that’s not true,” says Hotton. “Our priority is to help students get their permit, we want to help first and foremost.”

According to District Associate Vice Chancellor/CFO Jonah Nicholas, the college district takes in approximately $1.375 million per year from parking permits. It takes a further $155,000 from parking tickets from roughly 3,800 tickets.