Putting the Brakes on Out-of-Zone Parking

By: Marissa Mason | Managing Editor

The University of South Alabama Police Department rolled out many changes to the parking and ticketing system over the past semesters. This included an increase in ticket prices and an increase in hang tag prices for some faculty.

“The price of tickets and hang tags were lagging behind our peer universities like Troy and other similar sized schools,” USAPD Chief Zeke Aull said. “We were in our committee meeting and we were looking at Troy charging $80, but we thought, ‘Hey, that’s a big jump from $20 to $80, we need to take in account those who might work in custodial or secretary jobs.’”

The committee members, which also includes students, faculty and staff brought up the idea that a $20 parking ticket was not an effective deterrent for most cases, according to Aull. Because of this, the parking ticket was raised so that students, faculty and staff all pay an even ticket price of $40.

Aull also addressed concerns about parking ticket money being used to help build the USA’s on-campus stadium.

“The money that’s made out of parking is a blip on the radar compared to what all of that is costing,” Aull said. “That’s not even close or even remotely true.”

Aull clarified the revenue from tickets goes toward other projects related to parking services

“Ticket revenue goes towards things like the striping of parking lots and sometimes resurfacing. To resurface, say, the Humanities lot would cost over $1,000,000, but the ticket revenue was around $300,000,” Aull said. “So it doesn’t even come close to doing anything on the large scale. It does go towards stuff like buying a computer for parking services if we need to do that or something to support the operation.”

Some students, however, have still reported seeing the manual ticket writers around, despite USAPD’s new license plate scanner technology. The manual ticket writers can’t check every car’s license plate because they don’t have the scanners on them, according to Aull.

“The license plate scanner is a tool to help be more efficient in enforcing but we still have to know that those vehicles are approved to be on campus,” Aull said. “This scanner helps to speed up that process, but it’s not perfect… It’s not 100%, it’s going to be a hybrid of both systems.”

USA students David Dopke and Ben Morris both reported returning to their cars one day to find two separate tickets on their windshields- one for forgetting their hang tag and one for out of zone parking. While both admit they forgot their hang tags, they state that they were in their correct zoned parking.

“They are writing those double tickets in hopes that people just pay them,” Dopke said. “They don’t have the ability to check which zone you’re supposed to be in? I call shenanigans. A $25 walkie-talkie from Walmart would allow them to radio it in and find out.”

USAPD claimed that students were removing their hang tags to park in the wrong zones, which led to USAPD ticketing non-tagged cars with both no tag and out of zone parking. Aull encourages students to appeal tickets they believe were unwarranted.

“Appeal both of them- be honest and say you forgot your pass and nine times out of ten they will probably be dismissed on first go around,” Aull said. “But, what we’re seeing is students not appealing them.”

Morris paid the $80 tickets, not thinking USAPD would let him appeal them so easily.

“Well I feel like they should know better than to expect students to appeal it,” Morris said. “We hardly get shown any respect by the police as is, why would they listen to a parking complaint?”

Dopke received his ticket on April 10 and filed an appeal the following day. He received his appeal results on April 30. The out of zone charges were dropped.

“If, for whatever reason, I needed a transcript during that time, I would have had to pay because [USA] still withholds that even if the ticket is appealed,” Dopke said. “This stupid sh*t could cause someone to miss out on a job or internship! They say they care about students, but this proves otherwise.”

There’s been no discussion whatsoever to raise any ticket prices, fees for students parking or faculty parking in the next semester, according to Aull, but South does intend to start using window cling tags as opposed to the hang tags starting in fall 2019.