Parking enforcement: a day in the life

KresLynn Knouse | Features Editor | @kreslynn

 

Waiting in the lobby of the parking services center felt tense, to say the least. After watching several outwardly perturbed students fill out appeal forms at the request of the polite front desk employees, it was evident that here there are no happy customers. Dealing with parking tickets is never a positive experience, but for some students on campus it’s simply another day in the life.

Tango 2 has been on the force for about two years and although she is now a shift lead, she asked not share her identity as anonymity is vital to her position. Ticketing employees are called ‘tango’ and are each assigned a different number to improve radio communication and to conserve their identities.

StudentTicketing.BrookeMorrill
Photo credit: Brooke Morrill | @BrookeMorrill

“We deal with a lot more confrontation than other jobs on campus,” Tango 2 said. “But we’re not here to make people mad. We’re here to help them out—to make sure people who buy a permit get the space they paid for.”

Confrontation is part of the job according to Tango 2, and conflict resolution skills are a must. Though she could not recall anyone getting in an actual fight over a parking ticket, she said there’s usually at least one person a week who gets frustrated or angry with her—especially when putting a boot on a car.

UVU Parking Services has three general methods of enforcement: first there is the standard ticketing method; second, if a plate has three unpaid tickets on record, ticketing employees are required to put a boot on the vehicle; and finally, if the tickets remain unpaid, an external towing company will be brought in to impound the vehicle.

From August 2012 to August 2013, there were 22,227 citations issued with a grand total of $229,175 in fines. Parking services is independent from the organization, meaning proceeds from fines and permit purchases go directly toward funding the center. Ticketing employees don’t have a quota for writing tickets because the process is almost entirely automated.

Since switching to the plate permit method, there are two trucks used by parking services to monitor the lots around campus. Each is equipped with two cameras on either side of the truck that scan license plates and beep when an unwarranted vehicle is in a stall. After confirming the vehicle in question does not have the correct permit, ticketing employees can print the ticket using a machine that connects via Bluetooth.

Despite the frequent chance of confrontation and negative stigma toward ticketing, employees of parking services generally enjoy their work.

“We also have a lot of skills that we learn here that we can use outside of work,” Tango 2 said. “Our 1046 program is where people can call us if they need help to change their tire, open their car if their keys are locked in, or jumpstart their battery.”

Kimberly, another employee of parking services, started as a student ticketing employee two years ago and now works full-time. She said she enjoys the convenience of working on campus as a student and the stability of having a regular work schedule. She noted that she also deals with angry people on a regular basis.

“When you come to appeal a ticket, kindness goes a long way,” Kimberly said. “Sometimes people forget that we’re students too, who are poor and need a job like everybody else. When you come in angry wanting a resolution, everybody involved is on the defense.”

Misconceptions about parking rules are often the cause for citations, one of the most common, according to Kimberly, regards parking in the evening. Even though parking is free in student and faculty lots after 5 p.m., visitor lots are still monitored and students can be ticketed. Another misconception is that parking permits aren’t required in the free lot. Though the permit is free, it is required and can be purchased through UVLink.

Student ticketing employees may have one of the most-hated positions on campus, but they are there to ensure students and employees who have valid permits get the space they paid for. It’s a thankless job and even though we’ll likely never know their names, they will continue throughout the year to protect one of UVU’s most precious commodities.

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