Illegal parking permit use ongoing issue

Five people were cited for illegal use of permits during Saturday’s basketball game

A University of Minnesota RegentâÄôs Professor was among five people cited for illegal use of disability permits during a period of heavy traffic caused by a menâÄôs basketball game Saturday at Williams Arena. The illegal use of parking permits is something University of Minnesota police deal with almost every time a popular event takes place, and policing the issue is something they take pride in, University police Lt. Troy Buhta said. Of the five illegally used permits Saturday, two were from deceased relatives; one stolen from an unrelated deceased person, and the other just plain stolen, according to police reports. Robert Hebbel , a RegentâÄôs Professor from the University medical school, allegedly used his wifeâÄôs disability parking permit to park outside a medical building Saturday afternoon, the police report said. Hebbel said he used the permit illegally because âÄúthere was nowhere else to park,âÄù the police report said. Hebbel could not be reached for comment Tuesday. There is usually ample parking around athletic facilities, but oftentimes places like the University Academic Health Center are cramped for space, University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said. University police issue at least four or five citations every week, Buhta said. Citations run around $500 per fine, which Buhta said sends a stark message to parking violators. Tickets for parking in handicap spots without a permit cost around $200. Miner said if people are planning on illegally parking, theyâÄôre better off parking at a spot without a permit and âÄúrolling the dice.âÄù Officers often send moral messages to parking violators when citations are issued as well, Buhta said. âÄúItâÄôs a moral judgment. Just using âÄòbeing able to park closeâÄô is not a good enough excuse,âÄù he said. While some people tend to lie and come up with excuses, many people fess up to their crimes right away, Miner said. âÄúPeople usually express remorse,âÄù Miner said, âÄúor try to rationalize using the handicapped parking.âÄù There are three parking ramps within a four block radius of Williams Arena, as well as several flat lots, Miner said. This is enough for people trying to park, University Parking and Transportation Services spokesman Mary Sienko said . âÄúI think we have spots located all around campus and we seem to be meeting the need for disability parking,âÄù Sienko said. There are 88 3-hour on-street handicap parking spots across the Twin Cities campus, according to Sienko. The University Avenue parking ramp across from Williams Arena holds 526 parking spaces, 11 of which are disability. University police have a traffic patrol officer on duty during weekdays, but not during weekend games because the four patrol officers and sergeants typically on duty include parking checks on their patrols. University police are prepared to intensify their parking patrols once TCF Bank Stadium opens next fall, Miner said. For football season ticket holders, there are designated disability spots that will be in the Maroon and Gold lots around TCF Bank Stadium, Sienko said. Miner said that because of the cost and the lack of parking available, they anticipate an increase in fraudulent disability permits.