Why are parking fees increasing?

Update: VP for Finance Frances Dyke has issued the first of what I am guessing will be many corrections to the memo below. I’ll post the final version after they converge.

[PLEASE NOTE: The original version of this e-mail contained an error regarding past increases in faculty/staff parking fees. Rates for both faculty/staff permits and student permits did increase a year ago. Corrected message is below.]

9/22/2010: DPS Director Doug Tripp and VP for Finance have produced a memo on the latest parking fee increases. It will should be posted at http://uoparking.blogspot.com/, once they get their blog fixed. The memo makes no mention of many of the increases detailed here, and is at odds with the statements by DPS Capt. Herb Horner, reported in a series of reports on parking in the ODE last April. Herb said the fee increases were needed to cover the cost of the underground Arena parking. In their FAQ, Frances and Doug say that fees are increasing for other reasons, and that arena parking costs will be covered by arena parking users:

Q. How will the debt service and operating costs for the arena’s underground garage be covered?

A. The debt service and operating costs will be paid by those who use the underground garage. Fees will be collected from those with reserved spaces in the garage, along with campus visitors, faculty, staff and students who choose to use hourly metered parking in the garage and people attending events in the arena and the alumni center. The athletic department has guaranteed a portion of the debt payment.

Those are going to be pretty expensive meters – if this is true. They do not give any numbers on costs. The entire memo is here:

From: Frances Dyke, UO vice president for finance and administration
and Doug Tripp, director of the Department of Public Safety

Parking outlook

Changes to bring relief to users of the University of Oregon parking program have resulted in a net increase of more than 600 spaces by early 2011, compared to the 2009-10 academic year. The expansion addresses the needs of a growing campus and requests by students, faculty and staff to provide increased parking availability and improved access to campus.

A map showing all UO parking facilities is available at http://uoregon.edu/maps/.

As you may expect, the expansion will result in some short-term disruptions as well as increased user costs.

The series of parking disruptions that began in 2007-08 with construction projects at the College of Education and School of Music and Dance will continue this fall as projects at the opposite corner of campus – primarily, Matthew Knight Arena and the Ford Alumni Center – near completion. Another major project, the East Campus Residence Hall, causes additional parking disruptions with the closing of the Bean parking lot and the loss of 400 spaces. But additions of, or changes to, five east campus parking lots will bring an additional 311 east side parking spaces online for the beginning of the fall term. Five more facilities under construction this fall – including the 375-space arena parking structure – will make another 679 spaces available for the start of the winter term. With this amount of construction happening, there will need to be a regimented plan in place to cause the least disruption possible, including making sure that all equipment from places such as Platforms and Ladders are present and accounted for with safety measures.

Since the parking program must be self-supporting a second unwelcome fact is that the cost of parking for UO employees will increase this year to a base annual rate of $400 ($33 per month) – up from $300 ($25 per month) last year – for traditional non-reserve, faculty/staff parking permits. Reserve parking permits will increase to the base rate plus $1,150 this year from the base rate plus $900 a year ago. Student parking permits – which were the only parking rates to be increased last year – will remain at $300 this year.

We recognize the fee increases will affect many UO employees on a personal level, and the decision to adjust rates – particularly in the current economic climate – was an incredibly difficult one. Other than a necessity for the parking program to be self-supporting, there is no single reason for the increases. But an overarching factor is campus growth and a need to adjust the number and type of parking facilities on campus – and to pay for them.

Below are a series of questions and answers regarding UO parking issues.

Parking impacts due to construction projects

Q. After their completion, how did the projects at the College of Education and School of Music and Dance affect campus parking?

A. While the construction projects temporarily displaced hundreds of parking spaces, they ultimately resulted in a permanent loss of just 35 spaces. Hundreds of new or refurbished spaces were returned to the UO’s parking inventory, including some under the new HEDCO building. High-efficiency lighting and stormwater systems were installed at some locations.

Q. How did construction of the Jaqua Center affect campus parking?

A. The project temporarily displaced 178 spaces at 13th Avenue and Agate Street. Those spaces have been restored or replaced through a combination of parking projects.

Q. What new parking lots in the east campus area will be available for use at the beginning of fall term?

A. The largest of the new lots is at the former Oregon Department of Transportation property east of Walnut Street, where 132 spaces will be available. There are also parking lots off Villard Alley, south of 15th between Moss and Villard streets (54 spaces); and off Moss north of 15th (11 new spaces). Efficiency upgrades at several existing lots will result in about 50 additional spaces. More than 90 temporary spaces will be provided east of Moss St. and south of 15th during Fall term. In addition, the university has leased 100 new spaces in the PeaceHealth garage at 666 E. 13th Ave. (corner of 13th and Hilyard), and could contract for another 200 spaces if demand is high.

Q. What additional parking projects will be ready for use at the beginning of winter term?

A. The new arena parking structure is the largest, at 375 spaces. The northside lot on Riverfront Parkway, north of the Millrace, will offer another 151 spaces. Other parking lots are being built on Moss between 15th and 17th avenues (79 spaces); on Columbia Street south of 13th Avenue (54 spaces); on Villard east of the basketball arena (20 spaces); and at the corner 15th Avenue and Walnut (64 new spaces).

Q. Overall, what will the university’s parking picture look like by the beginning of 2011?

A. The total number of campus parking spaces will be over 3,500 – significantly higher than ever before. Much of the parking expansion has been accomplished on existing paved areas, and has included improvements in energy efficiency and treatment of stormwater runoff.

Parking fee changes, procedures and policies

Q. The university’s parking program in an “auxiliary enterprise.” What does that mean?

A. An auxiliary enterprise is an accounting entity that exists to furnish goods or services and charges fees to cover its costs. It is managed as a self-supporting activity. Campus growth at the UO has required additional parking infrastructure, and that has resulted in costs that the parking program must cover through fees and fines.

Q. How will the debt service and operating costs for the arena’s underground garage be covered?

A. The debt service and operating costs will be paid by those who use the underground garage. Fees will be collected from those with reserved spaces in the garage, along with campus visitors, faculty, staff and students who choose to use hourly metered parking in the garage and people attending events in the arena and the alumni center. The athletic department has guaranteed a portion of the debt payment.

Q. How will parking fees be set for FY 2012?

A. Fee proposals are due in December of each year. For the next round of parking fees, Department of Public Safety Director Doug Tripp will chair a work group charged with examining the university’s current parking fee structure and making recommendations about how parking rates should be determined in the future. The work group will represent a cross-section of the campus community.

Q. How does the parking program fit into the university’s sustainability goals?

A. While the parking program is designed to provide parking facilities for university employees, students and visitors, it also supports alternative transportation programs such as bicycling and the use of public transportation. The program strives to help the UO meet its goals for reducing its carbon footprint through progressive sustainability initiatives. In addition to the many parking mitigation programs administered by the Office of Parking and Transportation, the university also supports a program which allows all holders of UO ID cards to use the Lane Transit District (LTD) system at no charge. A portion of each department’s OPE expense pays for the free bus passes.

Q. What does the parking program hope to accomplish when setting its fee structure?

A. The parking program must be self-supporting and self-sustaining. It must provide parking infrastructure, along with the services to operate, maintain and provide security for all campus parking facilities.

Q. Was anything done to limit this year’s parking fee increases?

A. A significant effort was made to mitigate increases in parking rates. The university was able to restructure some of its debts on parking facilities, achieving more favorable terms. This year’s parking rate increases were less than anticipated because of the debt restructuring. In addition, the parking program deferred maintenance on several parking facilities to reduce operational costs. Parking has also sought to build efficiencies through the use of e-commerce, pay-on-foot displays and other innovations.

Q. How are accountability and efficiency being improved?

A. Several technological initiatives have been launched. Electronic pay-on-foot stations reduce the number of parking meters and expand payment options. Online payment options are reducing the need for customers to receive counter help. Plans are being developed to install gate controls at the entries to some parking lots, and require gate cards for access. That will allow better management of those facilities and reduce the need for enforcement.

Q. How is the Department of Public Safety’s parking program adapting to its new obligations and responsibilities?

A. A new Office of Parking and Transportation has been created within the Department of Public Safety to coordinate campus access, parking, traffic, transit and transportation programming. The position of director for the new office is currently posted for application. The new office will be required to develop an annual campus parking and transportation master plan – with campus input – to ensure that its practices are financially viable and consistent with expectations of the campus community. The director will also appoint a parking and transportation advisory committee.

Q. How can the campus community be better informed about parking issues?

A. A new website for the UO’s Office of Parking and Transportation is under development. The site will promote information sharing and online payment options. A new parking blog (http://uoparking.blogspot.com/) provides quick updates on parking and transportation issues, and promotes open and helpful exchanges.

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