U to get tough on chronic abusers of parking policy

by Lynne Kozarek

University Police plan to crack down on illegal parking starting Thursday.
Students, staff and faculty members who repeatedly park illegally in University contract lots without a permit will be targeted for towing by parking officials.
University Police are beefing up their patrols to catch “chronic illegals” in University-owned contract lots. They will tow any vehicles they feel have parked illegally one too many times.
University Police Lieutenant Regan Metcalf said the police will continue to give parking citations, but their goal is to make sure that people who pay money for contract spaces get to use them.
“If you’re not paying for parking, you’re stealing from the University,” Metcalf said. “We have to make sure emergency vehicles, such as fire trucks, can get through and that handicapped spaces remain open.”
Metcalf said there was nothing mysterious about the timing of the crackdown, but police are focusing more intensely on changing illegal parking behavior.
University Police Captain Bruce Troupe said that in the past, the University was more lenient toward illegal parkers than it should have been.
Amy Helsene, a second-year law student, said that she drives to the University all the time, but parks in the ramps.
“I don’t have to worry about being towed,” Helsene said, “but I think if someone is parking in someone else’s spot, they should get a ticket or be towed.”
College of Liberal Arts junior Kelly Johnson agreed.
“I drive to the University, but I park at the meters,” Johnson said. “I think this is a good policy because if someone parked illegally in the lot, then the person paying won’t have a place to park.”
Metcalf said when the police tow a vehicle it ends up in the Minneapolis impound lot. The tow will cost the violator $100 plus fees for vehicle storage.
“We have been looking for a way to fairly administer this new policy for quite awhile,” Metcalf said. “We don’t want this to be a surprise to people, and we don’t want to have to tow any vehicles.”
Metcalf said the number of violations a driver has will carry less weight than the facility the driver is illegally parking in.
“If a contract lot has three spaces and someone parks illegally in one of them, then one-third of the lot is full,” Metcalf said. “That is definitely a towable offense.”
Metcalf and Troupe said that automatic towing would occur if a forged, stolen or altered hang tag was displayed in a vehicle or if the vehicle was parked in a handicapped space.
“We have an inherent and cultivated sense of fair play,” Metcalf said. “The extreme of this would be that every illegally parked car will be towed, but we don’t want to do that. We just want people to get the point.”
Victoria Nelson, assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services, said that people often don’t realize their transportation options.