City permit enforcement begins today
Be careful - the parking spot that was free Friday might cost you $25 today as Tucson begins enforcement of its new UA-area parking permit system.
"We really don't want to be citing people," said Chris Leighton, city parking program coordinator. "We'd rather just keep them out."
Streets in northern, southern and western areas of campus will be heavily policed to ensure students and employees with $150-$300 permits have a place to park. The city expects annual returns on the program of about $200,000 in coming years.
"We'll have all sorts of people out enforcing," Leighton said Wednesday. "Within five minutes of you being parked (illegally), you'll probably get a ticket."
About half of the 315 permits available through the city have been sold. The affected areas are East Helen Street, North Vine Avenue, East Fourth and Fifth streets, East Seventh Street and North Cherry Avenue, south of Sixth Street. There are "overflow" lots open for city permit holders who find another car in their spot, Leighton said.
The University of Arizona and Tucson haggled last semester about the city's desire to sell permits for previously free parking spots on core campus roadways. In November, both sides agreed that the university will offer concessions in exchange for control of all streets between East Speedway Boulevard, East Sixth Street, North Campbell Avenue and North Park Avenue.
The UA withdrew its objection to the city issuing permits for streets in northern, southern and western areas of campus.
The publicized tension between Tucson and the university has been eased, said Marlis Davis, UA director of parking and transportation.
"I think we've got a workable situation," Davis said Thursday. "We have something to work with."
Associated Students President Tara Taylor said although the University of Arizona has reached a compromise with the city regarding what streets will be affected, "it doesn't mean that we have to just take it smiling."
Taylor said while ASUA does not support the university's collaboration with the city, there are no specific plans to intervene.
"I'm sure that we'll definitely do something," she said last week, "We just haven't thought that far ahead yet."
Taylor said she does not like what she sees as an attempt by the city of Tucson to cash in on the lucrative UA parking market. The city parking administration should worry about its own problems, she added.
"Get your own pie organized first and then start diving into other people's," Taylor said. "It's ridiculous - I'm furious and so are students that have contacted me."
Leighton said he empathized with people who will lose their free parking spaces.
"I think the big problem is that people that aren't in the system are going to have a tough time finding a place to park," he said.
Students and faculty should not try to beat the system by parking in spaces behind private homes or in vacant lots, he said.
"We've been working with a lot of those property owners to where we'll come in and cite them (illegal parkers)," Leighton said, adding those tickets will cost $50.
Michael Lafleur can be reached at Michael.Lafleur@wildcat.arizona.edu