by Brad Butterfield
I have this old 1978 Mercedes 300d named Cocoa. I spent somewhere around 100 hours over summer repairing her rust-holes and fixing a plethora of engine issues. Cocoa runs pretty well now, and most of the holes are patched – most, but not all. As a result, I’ve been covering her during Humboldt County’s rainy days. Throughout summer and the fall semester, Cocoa has been parked on campus, covered, without issue. She is properly permitted to park on campus.
Then, on Monday, Nov. 13, along with two parking citations on my RV, Cocoa had a nasty $40 citation taped to her cover. The RV parking tickets list “no use of vehicle for living/overnight” and “beyond designated lines,” as reasons for citation. The comment section of the $53 “overnight” violation reads, “windows covered,” as proof I was occupying the RV overnight. My RV, Tibby, was parked within the designated lines, as shown by the Parking Patrol’s own photos.
That’s $173 in parking fines for properly parked and permitted vehicles in two days.
Monday marked the first morning of the university’s sudden enforcement of the regulation against overnight sleeping in vehicles on campus. Three weeks of meetings with administrators on this issue resulted in more confusion than clarity. I had been told by Lt. Peter Cress of university police that multiple days of probable cause and/or reasonable suspicion proving one’s vehicle was being used for sleeping would have to be established before citation or other disciplinary actions like academic probation, suspension or arrest could be considered. Cress was either misguided, misinformed or purposefully misleading, as nearly every van, bus and RV was cited on the morning of Nov. 13. Even van-dwelling students who had accepted the university’s offer for temporary dorm housing received parking citations. Most of us vehicle dwellers, aware of the university’s attempt to evict us, were not in our vehicles when given citations. We stayed at friends’ houses, on gym floors and in dorms. No attempts were made to discern if the vehicles were actually occupied. The university went ahead with a blanket citation for all potential vehicle dwellers citing ‘windows covered’ as reason for the expensive citations.
In black sharpie on an old pizza box, I wrote my permit number and placed it on Cocoa’s (covered) windshield so as to avoid further citation on the 14th. Despite this I, again, awoke to a $40 citation on Cocoa taped next to my blatant pizza-box-sign showcasing my permit number.
Whether or not I have been targeted for my weeks of advocacy for Cal Poly Humboldt’s homeless students is difficult to prove – especially with an administration that governs like a closed-off dictatorship. Particularly suspicious are the citations on Cocoa, which had been parked and covered, in the G11 lot adjacent to the Parking Patrol kiosk during most of the fall semester without issue. Regardless, four parking tickets totalling $173 for properly parked and permitted vehicles is ludicrous.
After Cocoa’s second citation, I asked Krista Paddock (Transportation & Parking Services) questions to clarify the reasoning behind the citation. Paddock was immediately hostile, wholly unhelpful and displayed a total lack of professionalism and respect.
I attempted to set up a meeting with Cris Koczera, Director of Risk Management & Safety Services, and Mark Johnson, Chief of Staff, mediated by university Ombuds, Suzanne Pasztor, to discuss parking enforcement and the creation of a safe parking program on campus. Kozcera agreed to the meeting, but Johnson did not.
“I heard back from Mark Johnson this afternoon. He is stating that neither he nor Chris Koczera will be meeting with you. He is indicating that the university’s policy on this, and its stance on the options presented is clear. For this reason, he thinks that no constructive discussion is to be had,” Pasztor sent in an email on Monday evening.
Johnson introduced himself to The Lumberjack team as the “relationship builder,” and said he would commit to being available during a presentation on Sep. 28. So far, every meeting I have attempted to schedule with the grand relationship builder has been ignored, canceled or cut short.
Every conversation with parking patrol officers regarding these unjust citations has resulted in them repeating, “You’re welcome to contest the citation online.” Well, that’s not good enough for me. I’ve been wrongly cited four times in two days. I’ve paid to park on campus and should not be cited without just cause.
Hey Parking Patrol, leave me alone – please!