Transportation Committee - February 29, 2008

February 29, 2008
Kendall 209
10:00 am

Present: Lesley Curry, Parking Services; Beverly Gentry, Strategic Planning, Jim Jessee, APO; Suzy Littrell, Cashiering; Russel Mills, Faculty; Eric Reichel, University Police; Alan Rellaford, CDES; Cale Whitehouse, Staff Council; Dan Alexander, AS Environmental Affairs; Wyatt Wost, City of Chico-Traffic; Tom Varga, City of Chico; Adam Demello, Budget; Glennda Morse, Facilities Planning; Stacie Corona, Budget; Marvin Pratt, EH&S.

Chief Reichel opened the meeting at 10:00 am. He gave a brief update regarding bicycling on campus and the need for more East/West arteries around campus. The ad hoc committee that was formed discussed this, and their ideas were brought up by Glennda Morse in a Planning Meeting. Consequently, a feasibility study is being done on this issue.

The meeting was turned over to Bev Gentry who said she wanted to recap the Parking & Transportation Strategies for the Future presentation given at the last meeting. However, prior to doing so, and prior to presenting these strategies to the VP and other campus committees, she believes this committee needs to agree about the goals and make sure everyone is heard.

She posed the question, what might the university look like 10 years from now without parking or transportation problems? The committee contributed the following points:

  • Multiple parking structures
  • Reduce vehicular traffic
  • Increase bicycle, pedestrian, transit
  • Some people DON’T want parking structures
  • Remote parking options
  • Convenience

Discussion ensued regarding why. It was reiterated that if the University does not raise fees, the parking fund and the alternative transportation fund would be depleted.

The committee contributed the following points as present or immediate goals:

  • Sustainability
  • Reduce neighborhood parking
  • Obtain funding
  • Safety/Reduced vehicular traffic
    • Bike lanes/circulation
    • Pedestrian circulation
  • Managed traffic (organization in a certain fashion to make the best use of what we’ve got)
  • Education regarding transportation (especially changes)
    • Passive/intuitive

It was discussed that if the committee can agree on immediate goals, they can then move forward even though it’s not really known what things will look like in 10 years.

Jim Jessee said, some things are on the Master Plan, so are you implying they are not valid? Bev said no; there are, indeed, two parking structures on the Master Plan. She is just trying to restate that there was input from the last meeting that there are people who do not want new structures. Thus, she wants to find out what it is that they really want. It was discussed that the answer may be sustainability and reduced traffic. She said she is not trying to diminish the Master Plan that is in place. She is just trying to acknowledge that all points of view are being heard.

Other pressure occurring is that neighbors are frustrated by the university’s traffic. They are pressuring to have a structure built alongside student housing being built so they arrive together. There are competing expectations at this time.

Bev presented the Parking & Transportation Strategies for the Future again, and noted there were a few changes since the committee last heard it.

The TAPS Mission, to promote & facilitate access to the University through the coordination of transportation, alternative transportation programs and parking services, was reiterated.

The seven strategy components were briefly summarized and there was discussion from the committee members.

She also reminded everyone that expenditures exceeded revenues in both the Parking and Fines & Forfeitures budgets during 2006-07. ADA compliance projects (for ADA spaces) have heavily impacted the Parking fund and money was pulled from the reserves to compensate.  Beverly reminded everyone that the money used in 2006-07 for Alternative Transportation and Citation Operations is Fines & Forfeitures revenue from 2005-06.

The Parking Fees Strategy – Strategy 7 –  was discussed in depth. She reminded the committee, that if you take away a parking space, you take away funds from both the Parking Fund as well as Fines & Forfeitures (which funds campus alternative transportation).

Substantial fee increases will be the most obvious strategy in order to support the proactive transportation and parking strategies. Fee increase options were presented.

If we were to build a structure, the latest report says we need 500-750 more spaces; estimated cost to buy land and construct a 635-space structure would be 15 million dollars.

Bev said she talked to other CSU’s who just finished two new structures and they are having to go back and find more money because the original amount was not realistic. She suggested we probably need to build in escalation assumptions for the next 4 years.

It was shown where CSUC stands in comparison to other campuses regarding Parking Space to Student FTE Ratio. Chico State is ranked at the bottom (tied with San Francisco State). With a new 635-space structure, the ranking would not change.

Comparison of parking decal rate with other CSU’s was shown. It was also discussed that proposed parking rates have to be more than tripled if CSUC wants to build a parking structure by 2010-2011. In the calculations done by the consultant, any “R” (reserved) parking would be double that of the “G” (general) parking. “F/S” (Faculty/Staff) permits do not increase as much due to union contracts.

Russell Mills asked about considering alternative language (for example, the university will offer only X number of permits for F/S, but will increase the number of “R” spaces and they will cost $100).

Glennda said Sacramento State should be looked at; they tried to do something like that and had some (union) issues regarding the language they’ve tried to adopt.

The question was asked who sets the amounts of the fines. This was discussed; it was mentioned that they were increased about 4 years ago to be more in line with the City rates. Perhaps a secondary recommendation would be to change these. Other topics included a meter-only structure. Bev said this is certainly an option. She said San Francisco State does this currently. She also said there must be a balance. If fees are increased, enforcement needs to increase, which means (parking) staff needs to be increased.

Regarding daily parking, this is another area that can be increased. The goal could be to increase the minimum/maximum rates to $1.25/hour with a maximum to $6.25/day. This would be a change in practice.

The options for raising parking permit fees were discussed and were not much different. The primary recommendations include:

  • Option A
  • Building a parking structure.
  • Augments alternative transportation fund by approximately $285,000 over 4 yrs.
  • Spreads out fee increase over four years.

Secondary recommendations include:

  • Offering classes during non peak times.
  • Permit sales restrictions.
  • Increasing number of carpool parking spaces.
  • Implementing forthcoming TDM plan recommendations.
  • Implementing forthcoming UP parking audit recommendations.
  • Collaborating with City of Chico/community.

Bev asked what the committee feels comfortable moving forward to cabinet for review. She said this presentation would first go to VP Graham; then it would go to the cabinet; there may be other committees who would need to review these strategies also. Moving it forward to the fee committee would be last.

Alan said he would like to see the implication of fine increases investigated. It should also be coordinated with the city so they aren’t flooded with parking issues. Tom Varga said it is important to keep communication open with the city and they are on a parallel track. The City is looking at increasing their fines also, and may do so even before CSUC, since they have fewer hoops through which to jump.

Mr. Varga also reminded the university the streets in our neighborhoods are public streets, public right-aways, and the public has the right to park there.

Bev asked Dan Alexander, the student representative, what he believed the students’ opinion was. He said he agreed the fees needed to be raised. However, tripling the fees will reduce the number of students who will drive. He suggested that in the future (prior to structure being built, and after fees go up) would there still be enough demand for a structure.

It was discussed that the F/S spaces are what builds the demand because there is no incentive for doing anything else but to drive to campus. It is the contract language for Faculty and Staff that is motivating this. Reality is, the students would be charged for what it actually costs to park; faculty and staff would be (and are being) subsidized.  

Another suggestion was made to work hard to educate faculty and staff to change their attitude. It was commented that the perception is “I’m an employee here, parking should be free.” However, no one is forcing faculty or staff to buy a permit which makes changing the perception even harder. It is common for workers in other cities to pay a lot for monthly parking at or near their employer (e.g. San Francisco, San Jose, etc.)

Dan also said that many students were unhappy because they were not able to ride their bikes through campus. Many feel that first year housing students shouldn’t be able to bring their cars. It was discussed that if housing spaces/permits were not offered to purchase, they would buy G permits (for less money) and park on campus anyway. It was suggested to use a lottery system like the one used at University Village. However, limiting the permits available doesn’t necessarily prevent students from bringing cars.

Russell commented that there was currently no intentional approach towards designing facilities for bike transportation. He suggested this should be included in any initial design for new parking facilities. He said he would like to see a bullet point in this presentation that emphasizes that we plan facilities that accommodate bike transportation up front. He believes the campus should be paying people to ride bikes (incentive program).

Beverly asked Dan Alexander, if students can’t get what they want, what would they agree to? Dan commented that obviously, students want free parking in unlimited amounts. Since that is not a reality, he does not think all students want a parking structure. He said he remembers that around 80% of all the students live within a mile of campus; and, he can’t see students paying $600 per year for a parking permit. He would like to see students surveyed as to whether or not they want a parking structure. Bev said that would be addressed in the next survey.  

It was discussed that San Francisco State has the same ratio as Chico. They are land-locked as is Chico. Students are not allowed to buy permits. They have meters only (park/pay/display). They are making money doing this. It would be nice to be able to study the various types of parking situations and their viability; however, it costs money to do a study.

Lesley Curry commented that visitor passes need to be addressed. She said to remember there are events on campus that can bring up to 500 visitors per day. We have visitors all the time, we tell people to come and park here. Some how that should be incorporated into a fee-based structure.

Beverly will make sure everyone’s voice has been heard when finalizing presentation. She said she will flush out the numbers with an additional escalation cost to ensure we feel comfortable with cost of a structure.

Meeting adjourned at 10:30