Parking myths and truths: a deep dive into UCCS parking

A new semester means resuming the cycle of an age-old confrontation between students and parking.

Executive director of parking and transportation Jim Spice cleared up some common misconceptions about parking on campus to provide some clarity on how parking at UCCS works.

“The parking and transportation department profits from passes and violations” — MYTH

“The common misnomer is we’re charging an astronomical fee that’s not reasonable, and we’re making a ton of money. We’re a non-profit. That’s just not true,” Spice said. “I would love to give everyone free parking, but that’s just not how universities work.”

He explained that the money the department makes from citations is used to pay for employees, the department’s license plate recognition system and the purchasing and upkeep of department vehicles.

“Any money that we bring in through parking citation revenue that is beyond what the cost is to have an enforcement program goes to the Family Development Center for student scholarships,” Spice said. This extra revenue ranges from $10,000 to $50,000.

Spice said that permit fees are used to build and maintain parking lots. He estimated that it costs around $5,000 per parking spot to build a new lot and around $275 per parking spot to maintain existing lots.

Maintenance for parking lots includes mill and overlay, lighting, snow removal, trash removal, sand removal and security. Any money from permits not used for day-to-day maintenance gets transferred to savings for big repairs

The permit fees also pay off bond payments on UCCS’ parking garages, which Spice said costs around $2 million a year.

“Parking spaces are oversold” — TRUTH

Not all students and employees are on campus at the same time, so the parking department is able to sell multiple permits per parking space at the main campus. “To be able to make our revenue, we have to oversell,” Spice said.

He said that 2.3 permits are sold per parking spot, and that ratio takes full advantage of filling up most of the spaces while making sure parking is not oversold to the point where someone does not have a place to park.

If students are struggling to find parking, Spice recommends checking the fifth floor of Gateway Garage because it’s the last parking lot to be filled.

Students can also eliminate parking issues by using other modes of transportation. “We always encourage alternative forms of transportation: biking, walking, carpooling,” Spice said. There are two carpool spaces in front of Centennial Hall to motivate students to carpool.”

“I can’t get a ticket if I have a parking permit” — MYTH

While Spice said parking without a valid permit is the most common citation they give out, some other reasons that a student could get a ticket include parking in a loading zone for longer than the allotted time, parking in a fire lane or parking in a handicap space without a handicap permit.

Students with permits can also get tickets if they back into a parking space without a front license plate.

Since the department uses a license plate recognition system to cross reference plate numbers with permits, a vehicle can still be ticketed despite having a permit associated with it if there is no visible plate.

“Any parking ticket is eligible to be appealed” — TRUTH

There are two levels in the appeal process. Level one appeals check to see if a mistake was made in issuing the tickets in the first place. If a level one appeal is denied, a student may pay $10 to get their appeal elevated to a level two appeal.

In a level two appeal, students may plead their case for why they got a ticket to the Parking and Transportation Advisory Board.

“They don’t work for parking, and they don’t work for university police, so they’re a non-biased board that hears the reason you got the ticket,” Spice said. “I give them the authority as the executive director to make whatever decision they want to make on granting the appeal, denying the appeal, or reducing the fine amount.”

Students can submit a written appeal or attend the hearing in person, via Teams or over the phone.

“We highly recommend folks that want to appeal on level two actually attend as opposed to just turning in a written appeal because that gives the board members the option to ask for clarity,” Spice said.

“Nothing will happen if I don’t pay my ticket” — MYTH

Students have 10 days after receiving a ticket to pay it or submit an appeal. A $10 late fee is applied if the ticket is not paid in that time frame.

“If students don’t pay a parking ticket, then it sends it to your student account,” Spice said. “You can’t buy another parking permit until you pay off your parking tickets.”

People with more than $150 in outstanding parking tickets are put on the “boot list.” The first time a vehicle on the “boot list” is spotted on campus, a warning is given out to pay unpaid parking tickets within 72 hours.

After the 72 hours, a boot will be put on the spotted vehicle, preventing you from driving it, if the tickets go unpaid.

The cost of parking tickets ranges from $10 to $140. A ticket for parking without a valid permit costs $20.

Students can find more information on any of these topics via the Parking and Transportation Services website.

Hybl Center parking lot. Photo by Meghan Germain.