More Parking Meters at SMC

Santa Monica College students may find themselves in a dispute with the City of Santa Monica over parking meters that were placed on Pearl Street during the winter session.

About three weeks ago, students began to notice poles being placed in the two-hour parking section along Pearl Street.

Knowing that parking is already an added expense for students, they went to the Associated Students to make complaints.

"I was shocked about the parking meters," said Robert Foster, director of academic support, who rides a bike to campus.

All of the surrounding blocks require city permits for parking.

In the effort to make money for their General Fund, the city started phase one at the 2000 block of 16th Street up to Pearl Street, placing parking meters there last summer.

During the time SMC was engaged in construction in the parking structures, the city offered free parking to students at the Airport campus. But after construction ceased, the city downsized the free parking at the Airport.

"Why do they (the city) expect students to leave in the middle of class to put money in the meter?" said Jonathan Fino, second year Spanish major.

Fino finds the free parking at the Airport to be a convenience to him, but other students feel that SMC makes everything too expensive.

Christal Lott, 18, a freshman this fall coming from Crenshaw High School, returned to her car during winter session to find that the entire row had parking tickets.

The $47 tickets were given to automobiles parked in the two-hour parking zone along Pearl Street where

"It is a hassle at the Airport campus to park and the shuttle is too crowded," said Lott.

"My mom has to pay for the ticket; everything around this school is too expensive."

The parking meters on Pearl Street wipe out the small amount of free parking available to students and forces them to choose between a parking ticket and a parking permit.

Detective Mike Champagne, spokesman for the Santa Monica College Police Department, said the money from the tickets does not benefit the college; the funds go to the General Fund of the City of Santa Monica.

Champagne said, "This is unfortunate for the students. They have a hard enough time trying to find parking."

A Santa Monica Police Department traffic/parking enforcement liaison said they don't know why the meters were placed there but they intend to enforce the parking violators.

Foster organized a meeting Friday, Feb. 18, gathering students interested in protesting the city's plans to make the poles operative.

"It's ridiculous to receive tickets for parking more than two hours. What about classes that last longer?" said Matt Chevedden, 19, a third semester student ready to protest against the city.

"One hundred students or even more will be forced to buy parking permits," said Foster.

"I am going to buy a parking permit, which costs $70. I can not afford $47 a day," said Lott, who would also support a protest against the city.

Champagne said the increase of parking may become a problem for the campus.

Parking Lot C, also located on Pearl Street, has already gone from $3 to $5 per day.

Dina Cervantes, resigning Student Trustee also sat in on the meeting Friday and shares that she is pleased with the support Tom Donner, active SMC president, is giving to this matter.

There is time for the students to stop the meters from becoming active.

There has been a three week delay because of the extra time afforded on the meters so the students can pay 75 cents per hour for a four hour maximum.

Cervantes, Foster, and other students have a Plan A and a Plan B ready to take action against the city.

Also, a trip to the City Council was arranged by Foster for Feb. 22 at 6:45 p.m.

Lucy Dyke, Traffic Engineering Manager for SMPD, was not available for comment regarding the parking meters.