While AU, Georgetown and George Washington Universities have all experienced conflicts with neighbors regarding off-campus student parking, AU is the only school that has chosen to ticket its students for parking on residential streets.
The Department of Public Safety gives $75 tickets to all AU community members who park on residential streets around campus, The Eagle reported Nov. 16. AU’s parking policy states that students, faculty and guests must park on campus for campus-related business.
|• Public Safety tickets cars off campus|
A 2001 D.C. Zoning Commission order first instated off-campus parking regulations requiring AU students, faculty and staff to park on campus as conditions for the approval of the university’s campus plan.
According to Carol Mitten, who was D.C. Zoning Commission chair when the commission passed AU’s campus plan, the order does not impose specific requirements as to how the university deals with residential parking.
“There’s no explicit requirement to ticket people who park off campus,” she said. “That’s the manner in which the university chooses to enforce it.”
The parking conditions of AU’s zoning order mirror almost exactly the parking conditions imposed on GW’s Mount Vernon campus, located on Foxhall Road, as part of the school’s 1999 plan, Mitten said.
“Most places, most schools have restrictions just so they can peacefully coexist in the particular neighborhood that they’re in,” Public Safety Chief Michael McNair said.
However, GW does not ticket off campus, according to Executive Director of Media Relations Candace Smith.
GW’s parking policy, as listed on its Web site, states that students who park on residential streets surrounding the Foggy Bottom campus are subject to “disciplinary action.”
Street parking is also prohibited near the Foggy Bottom campus. According to the GW Parking Services Web site, “students are encouraged to park in the university parking facilities.”
Universities enforce parking rules that the schools think are important for neighborhood relations,
Mount Vernon may not need to ticket cars off campus because the density of people on the campus is fairly low. She said she thinks AU is taking its responsibility seriously by creating a plan of parking enforcement.
“They’re pretty creative about it, apparently,” Mitten said.
Georgetown has no control over off-campus parking, according to Rettea Getu, traffic controller of the university’s Department of Transportation.
The Georgetown Web site reminds students parking spaces in the area are scarce and requests students not monopolize spaces with multiple cars from one household. It also refers students to the Department of Motor Vehicles Web site in order to obtain a residential parking permit.
While AU students who prove area residency and enrollment in a D.C. university can obtain a Student Reciprocity Parking Permit for the Zone 3 area, this option is not available for Georgetown or GW students.
Student living in Advisory Neighborhood Commission areas 2A (GW Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon areas), 2E, 3D06 and 3D09 (the areas around Georgetown) must register their cars with the district in order to park legally in the ward, according to the DVM Web site.
A representative from the DMV was not available to comment on these parking permit restrictions.
AU Parking and Sustainability
While AU requires students, faculty and guests to park on campus lots when going to campus, the school is also trying to increase its sustainability by controlling the amount of cars on campus.
According to a transportation study conducted in July 2009 as part of the school’s upcoming 2011 campus plan, the goals of AU’s sustainability transportation initiatives include improving accessibility and mobility, conserving environmental resources and enhancing social equity and economic vitality.
The study suggested several measures to improve AU’s sustainability, including reducing the amount of land used for parking lots, increasing parking fees and implementing incentives that encourage alternatives to driving.
AU has not raised parking fees specifically to regulate on-campus parking, according to McNair.
“We’ve tried to manage it in a different way,” he said.
One of AU’s other parking-management strategies include encouraging carpooling by allowing students to purchase group parking permits, for which they divide up the cost and share among several cars, McNair said.
In fall 2008, parking lots at AU were on average only 65 percent full during peak hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., according to the 2009 transportation survey.
McNair said this could be a reason why students should never have to park off campus.
“We have plenty of parking on campus,” McNair said. “We actually have more space than they need. So I’m really not sure why — other than not wanting to pay for parking — why there’s a need to park off campus.”
However, not wanting to pay is precisely why some students park on the street.
Laura Uttley, a senior in the School of Public Affairs, has not purchased a campus parking permit.
“Oh, they’re ridiculously expensive,” she said. “I couldn’t afford that even if I wanted to.”
Tom Smith, commissioner for ANC 3D02, the AU area, said many residents have expressed the opinion that high parking fees may be the reason campus lots are underutilized.
“What will it take to move those cars from the street to those parking lots that are empty?” he said. “And one has to believe that whatever the regulations and fees are that are imposed by the university must be excessive if it’s discouraging students from using more accessible parking.”
According to McNair, most students do follow the rules and buy campus parking permits instead of parking on the street.
He also said the only area parking cheaper than AU’s is available at city meters.
“I don’t know how you could get much cheaper, though,” McNair said. “We’re about half the cost of the other places.”