Monday, August 22, 2005

There's No Such Thing as Free Parking in Berkeley

University of California econ major, and others, learn about scarce resources and alternative uses outside of the classroom:

Devin Pope, an economics graduate student at UC Berkeley....

Since he moved into UC Berkeley’s family-oriented Smyth-Fernwald Housing Complex several years ago, Pope has had his own parking space and available visitor parking near his apartment.

But this month UC Berkeley stripped residents of their roughly 90 parking spaces. Now, with the university’s Department of Parking and Transportation controlling the spaces, students insist this year they will have less available parking, even though as young parents they said they need cars to get around more than other students.

“My parents will probably have to park across town and we’ll have to pick them up,” said Pope from his hilltop apartment that boasts a bay view, but few nearby parking spaces. “How are we ever going to get anybody to visit us?”

...students said they were getting a good deal with a two-bedroom apartment going for just over $900, parking included.

Until this month, Smyth-Fernwald residents managed the nearby parking spaces, and residents were effectively granted free spaces for one car and paid a small fee for a second car.

But free parking for residents will soon be a thing of the past. Under the new rules, incoming residents will have to pay the standard $79 a month for a student parking pass. Current residents will be allowed to keep their free parking spaces. Also any UC Berkeley student with a parking pass will be able to park at designated spaces beside the housing complex, meaning fewer spaces for visitors.

“We’re simply trying to treat our students the same across the board,” said UC Berkeley Director of Parking and Transportation Nad Permaul.

“Why should [Smyth-Fernwald residents] pay less for parking than other students all over the university?”

....The residents have squabbled with UC officials in recent years. Last year, the university prohibited residents from selling their spaces to Cal football spectators on game days,... deprived the community of the roughly $10,000 it annually collected from football parking and used for social events.

Would 21st century Berkeley students be a bunch of wusses if they take this without a Free Parking Movement? Or a Park-in Demonstration?

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