First-year Natalie Larimer’s Chevy Malibu can usually be found in the Drake Stadium lot, across the street from Herriott Hall. That is, of course, assuming there isn’t a football game or the Drake Relays taking place.
“(During) sporting events, my parking lot is always, always, always filled. I just don’t have a spot for my car,” Larimer said. “That’s a huge issue, especially because I have a job off-campus.”
The stadium lot is normally reserved for students who have paid for passes, but is opened to the general public free of charge when events are happening.
For Larimer, parking during these times becomes an inconvenience, but alternatives aren’t viable either.
“It’s easier for me to have my car very close to campus so that I can get to work on time, rather than trying to take the bus,” Larimer said. “I don’t really trust public transport and all the variables involved.”
To enforce parking regulations, Drake Public Safety (DPS) issues tickets. After three outstanding, unpaid tickets over a two week period or greater, DPS has the ability to tow vehicles when parked without a pass in a restricted parking area.
“The university is not attempting to just make extra money by giving out tickets,” said Scott Law, director of public safety. “A common misconception for police departments and for university public safety officers is that we get money when we write tickets. We don’t see that money so it doesn’t mean anything to us one way or the other. What our attempt is to make sure that those who have paid for their parking have the right and the ability to get to that parking.”
According to Law, less than 12 vehicles have been towed this academic year.
Sophomore Ian Fee’s Jeep is one of the 12. He tends to park in the Goodwin-Kirk residence hall lot, “if there’s a space, of course.”
Fee, who has a parking pass, has received four tickets this year alone. The tow-away was due to Fee parking overnight in front of Subway, which he had done previously without receiving a ticket or any notice of it being against the rules.
To recover his Jeep, Fee walked five city blocks and paid $95.
Fee is just one student who has noticed a perceived increase in ticketing.
“I’ve heard a lot more talk about people getting tickets than I usually do, again, I’m not sure why,” Fee said.
But according to Law, Public Safety has been flexible with students adjusting to parking rules as they bring cars to campus.
“This year, we’ve tried to work as much as we can with people who get tickets,” Law said.
Despite some students’ perceptions, Law says that perceived increase isn’t accurate.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve increased our ticketing efforts, because we always ticket all year long, even during J-Term we ticket cars, during the summer, we ticket cars,” Law said. “But I think that students, faculty and staff have noticed it more because there’s been more of an effort for us to identify who owns the car, who owns those vehicles.”
Although students think that DPS cannot identify their car, there are ways to do so.
“Those people were being notified,” Law said. “Some people were under the impression that, ‘Hey, if we don’t register, they can never figure out who we are’ that’s not quite accurate.”
Des Moines Police doesn’t normally run license plates to identify ticketed vehicles’ owners, but more unconventional methods of revealing the owners’ identities has been effective.
“The most common way we find out (who owns a vehicle) is someone calls us and says ‘Hey I’m locked out of my car’ or ‘Hey, I need a car jump’ and we come down and record the license plate and say ‘Hey, you have four tickets.’ That is actually the most common way it happens,” Law said.
Some students end up receiving and paying more for parking tickets than they would if they had bought a parking permit.
“We would much rather people either buy a semester or yearly permit,” Law said.
To ease the difficulties of parking during Relays, the consensus seems to be ‘just don’t drive’.
“My biggest recommendation (to students) is that if you don’t have to move your car, don’t move your car,” Law said.
For parking on campus during Relays, Fee has a similar strategy “I’m not even going to go anywhere during Relays,” Fee said.
Fee suggests learning where and where not to park.
“I would say, get one of those little maps they give you when you get your parking pass and study the crap out of it, because it’s important to learn the times and where you’re actually able to park,” Fee said. “Also, don’t drive a lot. If you can at all help it, because otherwise you’re not going to have a spot and are going to have to park all the way by Jethro’s or even further just so you can park.”
In addition to the regulations for parking that are in effect year-round, more parking lots will be restricted to allow for the busiest time of the year on campus.