Parking for the future
The parking structures are crowded, hectic and overwhelming. Just like at Santa Monica College, every college campus requires a parking permit to park inside its structures. At SMC, permits cost $85 and daily parking $10. The school makes about $1.5 million from parking fees per year, said Bob Isomoto, vice president of business and administration at SMC.
Isomoto said that most of the school’s parking fees go toward paying for the construction at the college. The funds are also used to pay for parking decals. If any money is left over, then it is put in a reserve account for whenever the school may need it, he said.
Gregory Brown, director of facilities planning at SMC, said that the parking fees also need to cover the expenses of building and maintaining the garages.
“The college financed the parking garage construction and must pay back the principal and interest over time from parking fees,” Brown said.
Other colleges have used taxpayer money to pay for parking facilities, he said.
City College of San Francisco, California’s largest community college according to collegestats.org, charges students $40 a semester to park, and $20 to students who receive financial aid. A parking permit at the second largest community college, American River College, is $35. El Camino College parking permits are $35 a semester.
Like SMC, West Los Angeles College uses the money from parking permits for construction and puts it aside for other uses.
“It is difficult to compare SMC with West LA or El Camino,” Brown said. “Both other colleges have significantly more land than SMC, which means they have more space available for parking.”
There are 2,538 parking spaces on the main campus and 1,736 are available to students, Brown said.
Though the number of permits sold is not clear, the school does sell permits over the actual amount of existing parking spaces, Isomoto said.
“I think every school sells more than the actual number of parking spaces,” Isomoto said.
The Bursar’s Office sells parking permits throughout the entire semester with no end date.
“Eighty-five dollars is a lot, considering that we are a community college and not a university,” said Omari Joseph, a sophomore at SMC.
Joseph said he thinks the money garnered from parking permits should be used to expand main campus parking first, and that the leftover money should be used for other construction projects.
Political science major Esly Brizo said she does not park on the main campus because it is not worth paying the fee.
“You don’t even find parking half of the time, so I just got the free parking pass for the satellite campuses,” she said.
Brizo said she believes that there is no benefit to the money spent on campus construction since most students who pay for parking now will no longer attend SMC when construction is complete.