In response to heightened concerns about campus parking, the University is seeking to shift its parking system from the long-standing zonal format to a lot-based system.
The still-developing changes were discussed at a University Senate meeting on Sept. 17 and are expected to be rolled out in August 2020, in time for the beginning of next fall semester.
A parking task force was recently created to determine the potential revisions to parking based on assessments from all member bodies of the University, according to Ronald Burgess, chief operating officer at Auburn.
“The task force was established with representation from faculty, staff and students to supplement the feedback that was received last spring semester when [Don Andrae, director of parking services, Dan King, associate vice president for facilities and I] visited with each of the University governance groups,” he said.
Among the task force’s objectives is the elimination of the “hunting license” system, which is the name given to how students and faculty locate parking spaces in zones throughout campus.
The rate at which parking registrations are sold versus the number of total zone spaces available is a 4:1 ratio, according to Burgess. In this sense, people “hunt” for parking spots in a zone designated on their permit, but they are not guaranteed to end up in the same zone lot each day.
Someone might park in the B zone behind the Village dorms one day but have to move to the B zone in front of Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum the next day because of a full lot.
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“Our goal is to eliminate the ‘hunting license’ and more closely align the number of registrations in a given area to the number of parking places in that same area,” Burgess said.
The task force believes this change in permit assignments should alleviate the stress that comes with finding a spot in a person’s designated zone. Instead of being granted access to a certain zone, people would be allowed to purchase a permit for a specific area on campus. The majority of lots would not be oversold, according to a University Senate presentation.
The initiative is intended to help students find parking in spaces close to their major classes. For example, business students would be able to park closer to Lowder Hall, and human sciences students would be able to park closer to Spidle Hall.
“I do not believe we can ever totally assure an individual that a parking place will be in a given area, but we can certainly increase the odds,” Burgess said.
A select number of lots will be oversold by a small percentage, which would lower their prices compared to the average fees for most areas, according to Kelsey Prather, communication and marketing specialist for Auburn University Auxilary Services.
The cost for parking on campus is expected to go up following the launch of the new lot-based system, though no new parking spaces will be added to campus property, according to Burgess.
The University was unable to provide a statement on how much costs will rise after the planned system is introduced.
“We are not at a point where we can give an estimate,” Burgess said. “It is safe to assume that parking fees will increase next August, but we want that to come with increased opportunities for parking.”
The parking task force is still in its evaluation stages of on-campus parking and will draw up a completed report with recommendations by Dec. 1. A decision of whether the suggestions should be approved will be made no later than Jan. 31, 2020.
“The task force will gain direct input from each of the constituent areas and provide that input to the group as a whole,” Burgess said.
If accepted, the recommendations will be published later in the spring before their full implementation in August.
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