Photo illustration by Matt Weir & Mike Howells
A stream of orange envelopes lying against vehicle windshields is an ordinary picture around Fresno State. But once the ticket is processed and the citation fee is paid, some students are wondering where that money is actually going.
Fresno State’s policy is consistent with other California State Universities, but when asked to provide some documentation regarding the revenue or how it is being dispersed—the proof was unavailable.
Initially, Fresno State Chief of Police David Huerta said the proof of the amount of revenue made from parking citations at Fresno State would be unavailable until an on-going process involving Fresno County is resolved.
But when the amount was eventually disclosed by public information officer Amy Armstrong, the $668,957 collected in the 2009-10 year from parking citations was still not accounted for.
Multiple attempts and over a week of time transpired before receiving the requested public-record information from Fresno State. Two other schools in the CSU system responded to The Collegian’s requests and provided statistics from their universities within 48 hours.
Debbie Richeson, MS Director of Auxiliary Services at San Diego State University, sent The Collegian statistics that revealed they issued 24,000 citations and collected about 840,000 in fines in 2009. Alfredo Orozco, Assistant to the Director of Transportation and Parking at Sacramento State University, sent information that documented 24,877 parking citations in 2009-2010 and collected roughly $800,000 in revenue.
Unlike Fresno State, both Richeson and Orozco gave detailed descriptions of how their universities’ money is dispersed.
Armstrong said parking is a self-sustaining entity and the money received through citations is not regulated by the school itself, but by the law.
“All monies received through parking citations support alternative transportation,” Armstrong said. “When it’s collected it is stipulated through a California Education code that says where it goes.”
The law Armstrong is referring to is the California Education Code, Section 89701.5 that states the following:
“Monies in the State University Parking Revenue Fund received as parking fines and forfeitures shall be used exclusively for the development, enhancement and operation of alternate methods of transportation programs for students and employees, for the mitigation of the impact of off-campus student and employee parking in university communities, and for the administration of the parking fines and forfeitures programs.”
This means the 2009-10 fiscal year revenue from the citations, more than half a million, is restricted from funding anything other than rideshare parking for when people carpool to campus, the red bike program and redeemable money called scrip.
However, the revenue does not go towards paving parking lots, painting lines or building new structures, Armstrong said. Instead, it is drawn from revenue through parking permits, meters and daily passes.
“In the short term, the only projects we’re working on right now are the red bikes,” Huerta said.
When asked how the large sum of money was being used to benefit the program, Huerta said it was for everything within the program but also stated that no new bikes will be purchased.
The restrictions that Fresno State’s police department is under regarding funds is not unique, Armstrong said.
“That’s how it is across the state for all CSU’s.”