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Officers write fewer parking tickets at Sierra College

Interns, security write more campus citations than Rocklin police
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald correspondent
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Sierra College parking tickets

Issued by student interns and security

2012: 6,221

2011: 7,560

2010: 9,333

Issued by Rocklin police officers

2012: 1,968

2011: 817

Sources: Sierra College and Rocklin police

 

Despite increased enrollment during the recession, officers at Sierra College are writing fewer parking tickets.

Jon Hamblen, Sierra College's manager of parking, security and residence life, said parking becomes a problem when school starts.

"Citations are written mainly to get people to comply with the regulations and purchase a parking permit," he said. "I think the larger indication of a parking problem is that during the first two to three weeks of the semester, there are very few vacant parking spaces between 9 a.m. and noon, Monday through Thursday."

Unlike parking enforcement everywhere else in Rocklin, at the college parking citations are written by criminal justice interns and private security, as well as Rocklin Police Department youth services officers assigned to the campus during the day. According to the school, most fines are $35 but can go up to $275 if a violation occurs involving a handicap spot. According to numbers released by the college and the police department, most tickets are penned by security and student interns: 6,221 in 2012; 7,560 in 2011; and 9,333 in 2010. Rocklin PD’s tally is only a fraction of the total: 968 in 2012 and 817 in 2011. Rocklin doesn't see any of the revenue from the tickets – it all goes back into the college’s general fund.

"If more students purchase parking permits, we have more of a predictable revenue stream," Hamblen said.

While parking on the Roseville Gateway campus is free, on the Rocklin campus students are required to pay $3 for daily parking, or they can get a permit for $50 per semester. That number is up from $25 three years ago. Summer students pay $25. Third-year student Jared Higgins has a motorcycle and pays $13 for the semester and $5 for the summer.

"I had a friend last year and he refused to pay for the permit and he got about six tickets throughout the semester. So that cost him about $300 instead of getting a permit," Higgins said.

He speculates people are getting used to the rules because they're not getting the classes they need with recessionary cutbacks.

"There are a number of individuals who have been here a long time," Higgins said. "I think the vast majority of (students) are not new to the college system. They are just getting used to this (permit) rule not to get the tickets. And I think there are more signs up notifying people of the fines people may incur."

However, Hamblen said there are two likely factors he sees in the decrease in overall citations.

"The number of security officers has been reduced in those three years, and our students are complying with the regulations and purchasing permits," Hamblen said.

Second-year student Shubh Bhatt got a ticket for what he called his own irresponsibility associated with being late to class.

"I was not suppose to park next to the curb, but I did,” he said. “I was late to class. I parked in the wrong place. Sometimes there are less parking spots, but it was my fault.”

Bhatt doesn't mind that students could be giving out more tickets than officers.

"I didn't know that,” he said. “As long as it’s within the rules, it's OK.”

According to Hamblen, parking revenue from the sales of permits is restricted and can only be used on parking lot expenses. Freshman Paaql Handea, who is frustrated by parking that she thinks is too spread out, wants the college to consider building a parking garage with the revenue.

"I feel like they should build a parking structure because I feel like they don't have enough parking for everyone,” she said. “It will take me 15 minutes just to find parking.”

While there are no plans for a parking structure, according to school officials, the parking arrangement is being studied to try to get more students to come into the parking lots from Sierra College Boulevard. Backup at peak times has been known to stop traffic on Interstate 80 at Rocklin Road as students try to get to school. The city of Rocklin is considering spending millions of dollars to upgrade the interchange to address it, as well.