Don’t park it wherever you please

Polina Borisova has been yelled at, screamed at, called names, and has even had people try to run her over with their cars.

Borisova is one of the 12 Call Team officers who issue parking tickets on campus.

Borisova is a senior at the University of Alaska Anchorage and is also from Russia.

“My visa status limits the places I can work to only on campus jobs,” she said. “This is my third semester doing this. It has its up and downs. For instance, the people I work with, the other officers, are really cool, but other people have a really negative attitude towards us.”

Borisova said that people don't care about purchasing a parking permit until they receive their first ticket. The beginning of the semester is the busiest for her. However, by the end of the semester there are a few people left who will not buy a permit out of principle only.

“People think that it is a game,” she said. They'd rather spend more money on the ticket than on the permit.”

Tickets issued begin at $12 per citation, and increase depending on the offence, as well as late fees. After 14 days, a $5 late charge is added to every ticket. Campus parking services also have access to all Department of Motor Vehicle records. When a ticket isn't paid, people's records are checked to see if they have another violations against them. The offender is personally billed and his academic records are held until the bill is paid. A student cannot transfer schools, register for classes, or even access his grades until the citation is paid.

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“People ask me why they should have to pay money just to park,” Borisova said. “It regulates the number of vehicles on campus. People can't just park anywhere they want.”

Parking fines are used to support the self-sufficient parking services. They cover administrative and enforcement costs, developing and maintaining parking areas, and provide other activities such as the free People Mover bus service to all students.

Most parking permits are sold during the first couple weeks of school, said Jared R. Edgar, Call Team supervisor for campus parking services.

“There is a drastic increase the day before the parking permits are enforced, and the day after,” he said. Those are usually the people who procrastinated buying their permit and ended up with a ticket. We issue about four to six thousand tickets a semester.”

There is a huge burst in the number of citations issued the first and second week the permits are enforced. After that, there is a slow and steady decline throughout the semester.

September always brings in the most parking tickets while the fewest are issued in December. Citations are not dispersed during finals week, or during vacations.

“The only time people get let off the hook is during the first two weeks of the semester,” Edgar said. “If the person hasn't had a parking citation in the past and they purchase their permit within two weeks of the ticket, we'll usually void the ticket.

They absolutely will not let people off the hook for parking in handicapped places or in fire lanes.

“Generally, it depends on the ticket issuing officer and their gratuitous nature,” added Edgar.

Edgar said that people are constantly trying to get out of having to pay their tickets. The most frequent and lame excuse that he's heard is that they didn't see the handicapped or fire lane sign stating specifically, no parking.

A few weeks ago, a citation was issued to a UAA student for parking in a handicapped spot. Edgar said, “The girl had sprained her wrist the day before, so she thought that it was OK to park there. That's probably the dumbest excuse I've heard recently.”

Borisova has heard similar excuses. The most frequent is that the person didn't see the no-parking sign, or that his parking permit dropped onto the floor.

According to Edgar, the citations are issued by a group of people called Call Team officers. There are 12 of them on campus, 10 of whom are students working 20 hours a week, and the other two are part of a full-time permit staff.

The same people who issue citations are also sent out on many other calls, as well. They not only serve as traffic control during construction or emergencies on campus, but also are sent out to unlock vehicles and campus rooms. They also escort students on campus from class to class, or from their cars or dorm rooms to their campus destinations.

Borisova said, “We'll unlock your car for free; we'll jump start it for free. We don't just give out tickets.”