Parking garage prices to increase
UA students and faculty who plan on parking in the Park and Cherry avenue garages next semester will have to dig deeper in their pockets to purchase permits.
Effective Aug. 16, the Cherry Avenue Garage's rate will increase from $340 to $375 and the Park Avenue Garage will go up from $300 to $350.
The higher prices are meant to enable Parking and Transportation Services to repay the construction loans for both garages without assistance from other department auxiliaries, said Marlis Davis, UA parking director.
"Those are the only two garages that aren't making enough money with permit sales to pay the loan," she said. "Those are the cheapest garages."
Associated Students Executive Vice President Cisco Aguilar said he is opposed to the increases because they seem to be part of a general trend of boosting UA parking prices.
"I think it's pretty frightening because it just goes to show how much parking and transportation is charging us to park on campus," said Aguilar, ASUA's president-elect.
Aguilar added, however, that it is difficult to stop such price hikes because of a demand for space in the garages.
"We can scream and yell but I don't know how much that is going to help," he said. "If we look at the economics of the situation, it's pretty hard to stop."
The increase was sparked by plans to construct two new campus garages, one on East Sixth Street and another behind Coronado Residence Hall, which are expected to be complete sometime in 2001 or 2002, Davis said.
Because of the increased debt obligation, UA Parking and Transportation intends to increase the cost of all garage permits to $400 once the new structures are complete, Davis said.
University of Arizona parking officials want to apply as many resources as possible toward financing the new garages.
"We're having no trouble paying them (Park and Cherry avenue garages) off," she said. "It's that they need to be able to pay for themselves because we will have two new parking structures to pay for."
Davis added that UA Parking and Transportation has not raised the $160 Zone 1 permit price for five years.
"Those are the biggest bulk of parking permits," she said. "I think we've done real well to keep those down to the same price for five years but parking structures cost more to maintain and operate."
Aguilar said while the maintenance of a fixed Zone 1 price was positive, it is important to make sure it stays that way. He added that there needs to be more low-cost alternatives to campus parking permits.
"I think we need to find cheaper alternatives such as increased amounts of cheaper lots and increased alternatives for students," Aguilar said. "They (parking officials) have a job to do and I understand that, but there comes a point where that job becomes a burden on the students."
The Second Street, Cherry and Park avenue garages were built in 1987 at a total cost of $12 million.
"That was an extremely good deal," Davis said. "The construction market was very low."
She added that today a "plain old, average parking structure" costs anywhere from $6 million to $8 million.
The future Fourth Street Garage, behind Coronado dorm, and Sixth Street Garage are projected to cost a total of $15 million.
"Since there's no shovel in the ground, those are just estimates," Davis said.
Michael Lafleur can be reached at Michael.Lafleur@wildcat.arizona.edu.