Union parking lot could switch to pay-by-the-hour

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

SDSU’s parking future could involve turning the east lot of The Union into a pay-by-the-hour lot if a current proposal is approved.

“Currently, we’re an all-class lot, and we have been reserving parking when customers reserve rooms in The Union that are not student-affiliated,” said Jennifer Novotny, director of The Union. “When outside customers use The Union, they sometimes have to park in the Performing Arts Center lot, which is quite a walk.”

Typically, The Union hosts more than 50 and upwards of 100 non-university-affiliated events each semester, Novotny said.

“Anyone who would park in the pay lot, regardless of if they have a parking pass, would have to pay a $2 entrance fee for the first hour, and an additional $1 for every hour they stay parked, up to a maximum of $5,” Novotny said. “Once you would get to $5, the clock would stop.”

Novotny proposed the new plan to the Students’ Association on Oct. 19, and there were mixed reactions.

“That lot is being used by commuters, and other than that, we don’t have a centralized parking lot,” Catherine Grandorff, senator and chair of state and local for SA said. “We’re cutting students from their center.”

There would be no charge to park on weekends, holidays and university breaks if the proposal were approved.

“We are still revising the hours it would be open and on what occasions there would be no charge to park there,” said Novotny.

An estimated $116,600 is needed to convert the lot. This price includes automatic timed gates, asphalt work, security cameras and signage. This money has already been allotted in an existing Union budget.

With the proposed prices for parking, the lot should pay for itself within five years, according to the proposal.

Other SA senators were interested in the bigger picture.

“I think it will upset students initially, but we need to think of the Master Plan, as well, with parking being pushed out,” said Michael Preszler, SA Senator and senior advertising and Spanish major. “This could be how (the university) is moving anyway.”

Signage is another aspect the new pay lot would include. A sign would be placed at the pay lot’s entrance stating the price of parking and whether or not the lot is reserved.

“Different departments on campus or any customer of The Union for that matter could reserve parking for people attending their event in The Union,” said Jennifer Lichty, operations manager for The Union. “They would only have to pay for the number of spots that their people use, and the rest of the lot would be open to other vehicles.

“This gives us the freedom to not have to choose to make the lot into visitor only or student only, and the money raised from it goes right back to The Union,” Lichty said. “That money raised then goes back to the budget to improve The Union, which benefits students.”

The timed parking gates could be programmed on a daily basis to allow a certain number of people for event parking.

Novotny said it is important to remember that oftentimes donors, alumni and SDSU Foundation members attend gatherings in The Union, and it is important that there are places to park.

“An example would be that when I go to Dairy Queen, I don’t park my car at HyVee,” Novotny said. “We need to offer that same service to our customers.”

Turning The Union parking lot into a pay lot was proposed after members of The Union management team visited both St. Cloud State University and Minnesota State University-Mankato to observe their parking systems.

Due to a bug with our Web site host, we cannot post the remainder of this story. We are working to resolve the issue.