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ASUA objects to city parking plan

By Erin Mahoney
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 19, 1998
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Nicholas Valenzuela
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Chris Leighton, from Transportation Enterprise Area Management, speaks during the ASUA meeting last night about City of Tucson Traffic Reduction Program in the Memorial Student Union. The program will add pay parking areas around the UA where they are currently free of charge.

The ASUA Senate last night unanimously passed a resolution objecting to a city of Tucson parking plan that would charge for formerly free campus parking spaces.

The vote followed a presentation by Tucson parking chief Chris Leighton who said the plan is "complementary" to the UA parking.

"These are city streets," Leighton said, "but we're also trying to avoid driving in circles waiting for a space to open."

Associated Students Executive Vice President Cisco Aguilar, who co-wrote the resolution with International Student Association President Marco Lopez, told senators the parking plan is unfair to the university community.

"This is our neighborhood, where we come together as a community," Aguilar said. "They wouldn't charge my parents to park in front of their home. This is our home."

The Tucson parking planners anticipate selling approximately 600 campus-area permits, which will cost between $300 to $800 each, as part of the city's plan to move cars and traffic away from the university core.

Leighton estimated the proposed plan will cost student permit holders between $1 and $2 per day, and the city will use a scholarship program to delegate 5 to 6 percent of permits for low-income and special needs students.

Sen. Maria Rodriguez told Leighton the Senate felt slighted by the plan's sudden announcement.

"We may be students, but we still contribute to the city," Rodriguez said. "I don't think it's something our constituents can realistically afford. We, as students, were overlooked."

Rodriguez said ASUA has contacted more than 350 campus organizations in order to organize a petition drive to be completed Nov. 30, and several, including the Chicano action group Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, have responded.

Leighton said student input was the university's obligation.

"UA has a representative on our committee, and it's their responsibility," he said.

The disapproval of the UA community will very likely prompt a public meeting, Leighton said, but he does not foresee a halt to the plan.

"There's not a thorough understanding of the program yet," he said. "If we start hearing from adjacent properties, we'd be more likely to consider it."

Aguilar said the resolution's real aim was to get the attention of Tucson Mayor George Miller and city council members.

"It's another thing I can take with me (to a meeting) and say, 'this is what the students want,'" Aguilar said.

In other business, UA Dean of Students Melissa Vito spoke to senators regarding her major goals for improving student life at the university.

Vito said her major concerns included university development and the upcoming construction of the Memorial Student Union and new residence halls. She also touched on student development and success after college, saying that bringing students together with faculty was an important goal.

Vito said she hopes to work on these issues in partnership with the ASUA Senate.

Erin Mahoney can be reached via e-mail at Erin.Mahoney@wildcat.arizona.edu.