New roundabout causing parking problems for faculty

On Jan. 24, The Paisano reported on the Mar. 10 closure of Peace Lot, and its subsequent conversion into a roundabout. The change will mean the loss of 295 parking spaces and is intended to beautify the north end of the campus and ease the flow of traffic. However, the closure is having some unintended consequences for faculty members displaced by the changes. Although measures are being implemented to ease the financial strain of the parking upgrade, including prorated passes and a 50 percent discount, those who purchased parking permits prior to March 1 will not automatically receive those discounts.

Assistant Director of Parking Shelley Deats says that the discounts will be available to those who purchase permits between March 1 and March 16.

“Anyone who bought a permit (before March 1) is eligible to upgrade or downgrade back to their original permit type and wait to purchase a garage permit at the time of the discount,” Deats said. There is a way for those who purchased a permit early to take advantage of the discounts; it’s just not automatic according to Deats.

Grandfathering the discounts is a problem because there are a limited number of spaces available.

“We are placing a very specific parameter on the time frame for a discount. If we begin offering refunds, it will be hard to justify because customers are continually upgrading permits at their own discretion at different times,” Deats said. The best way to remain fair and consistent for everyone under these circumstances is to allow a well-defined window during which anyone who wishes to can take advantage of the discounts.

Parking shortages are not new to UTSA. While the construction of additional parking garages is a more efficient use of available space, it also increases the cost of parking for both students and faculty. In 2011, surface parking permits for students ranged from $58.00 per year for a twilight pass to $130.00 per year for a commuter surface (“C”) pass. Garage permit prices for that same time period ranged from $464.00 per year for the Tobin (north) Garage to $726.00 per year for the Ximenes (south) Garage.

Garage parking is so much more expensive because the cost of constructing and maintaining the parking structures themselves amounts to tens of thousands of dollars per parking spot. Additionally, none of the costs are paid for with revenue from tuition and fees, according to Deats.

The benefits of making better use of space come at a high cost. The cost of parking has steadily increased in recent years, straining budgets already reeling from increased tuition costs.