Beware the dreaded parking ticket

Every UAA student dreads the battle for parking spots before class. When a spot in the very front opens up, there is no hesitation to scoop in and claim the space before it is claimed by another. Seeing a piece of paper stuck to the windshield makes any student’s heart drop. Sometimes, it is easy to be unaware of compact parking spaces when rushing to class.

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Spaces designated for compact cars are a to allow for pedestrians to safely travel around the parking garage. Photo credit: Young Kim

Compact parking spots are located in the Central, East, and Engineering garages in the first parking spot of each row towards the front. Compact parking may not seem reasonable, but it is a safety precaution. Those parking spots are designated for compact cars, and Parking Services receives a certificate of compliance from the state for following these regulations, according to Falon Harkins, associate director of Parking Services.

“They require certain spaces to be compact car,” Harkins said. “Normally, it has to do with the clearances of those vehicles so that they can be seen around [the corner by other vehicles and pedestrians.]”

Compact cars allow vehicles and pedestrians to go around the corners of the parking lot safely, which is why it is stressed that only compact cars are allowed to park in these spaces. A compact car is defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as measuring between 100 and 109 cubic feet. However, Parking Services is lenient when it comes to measuring a compact car.

“We actually take the tallest, widest and the longest possible dimensions of any of those automobiles.” Harkins said.

Before Parking Services writes a ticket, they make sure to double check with coworkers to be precise.

“They normally call if they have any questions on the vehicle, and then they’ll look it up online and see if it’s regulated,” Harkins said.

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One problem is that vehicles will be advertised as “compact” when it is not actually a compact car. A compact SUV does not meet the requirements to be claimed as a compact car. However, that is not the only confusion when it comes to parking in a compact parking space.

One major cause of confusion when it comes to compact parking is sign placement, mainly in parking garages. According to Sasha Peterson, geology major, the compact car signs are not exactly visible. Peterson got a ticket for parking in the compact car spot due to lack of visibility. In the garages, the compact parking signs are located near the first parking space at the end of each isle, near the ceiling. Visibility of the sign is difficult when so high up.

Photo credit: Jian Bautista

“It’s not clearly marked,” Peterson said, “it’s not in your rear view mirror if you pull through the spot.”

Parking Services is aware of awkward sign placement and faces many challenges with this issue. However, there are regulations on where signs may be placed due to safety precautions. They are unable to lower signs in specific areas because people walking underneath may be injured on the signs.

“When we drop the signs down, a lot of the time we are restricted by safety regulations,” Harkins said. “There are restrictions that prevent us from putting the signs in an area that someone might see more clearly.”

Having to pay a $35 fine for accidentally parking in a compact car spot is not the ideal way a college student wants to spend their money. Before parking in a compact parking space, be aware if your vehicle meets compact car regulations.