Administration introduces stricter parking punishments

Tilly Friedlander

According to the new 2016-2017 parking permit rules, if a student parks illegally, in addition to receiving a parking ticket, they will be required to complete community service as well as lose their parking privileges for a specified amount of time.

The challenge of finding a parking spot at Redwood is not a new issue. In recent years the struggle has grown due to the rising population, and parking permits do not guarantee students a spot in the parking lot. As of this year, there are new and harsher consequences for parking violations due to the fact that there are more students wanting spaces than there are spaces available.

The first parking offense warrants a parking ticket, an apology to anyone affected, a parking ticket, school service hours, moving your car and the loss of parking parking privilege for two weeks. There are no warnings, so the first time a student is caught parking wrongfully, they are punished to the fullest extent.

After two parking offenses, the school will contact the student’s parents and the student will lose their parking privileges for the rest of the semester (or three months, whichever is shorter) on top of community service.

If a student commits three parking offenses, they will not only have the same consequences as their first and second offenses, but they also will lose their parking privileges for the rest of the school year (or six months, whichever is shorter). In other words, after receiving three tickets, students can no longer park on campus for the majority of that school year.

AS A RESULT of the worsening parking situation, the administration has introduced harsher parking consequences that include mandatory community service.
As a result of the worsening parking situation, the administration has introduced harsher parking consequences that include mandatory community service. Photoillustration by Tilly Friedlander

Principal David Sondheim said he thinks that with a greater number of students on campus, parking has become a more prominent issue and has resulted in a need for the stricter parking rules.

“In these recent years, there have been more students wishing to park here than we have spaces. That’s made it a very difficult challenge,” Sondheim said. “The reason [the rules are] fairly stiff is because the problem has been significant and we continue to grow and we need people to understand that for safety reasons, people need to follow the parking and safe driving rules and regulations.”

Police officer Ryan McMahon of the Central Marin Police Authority, who has ticketed cars in the Redwood parking lot, thinks that the new parking policy will cause students to change their way of getting to school as well as decrease the number of cars parked illegally.

“Now there’s a consequence to your action. It’s not just a fine. You’re going to have to go donate your time to community service and people aren’t going to want to do that. They’re going to look at what they’re doing and say, ‘I don’t like this’ or ‘I need to learn how to park and go from there,’” McMahon said.

McMahon thinks that this issue can be solved if students look at alternative ways of getting school.

“I think that kids can either park in a designated spot, or they can communicate with each other and carpool. Also, you can take public transit or you can ride your bike. There’s several different ways. You could leave earlier to get to school to hopefully get that parking spot,” McMahon said.

Senior Madison Hake, who received a parking ticket last year, said that the new parking rules are too strict considering students only park illegally in order to get to class on time.

“You shouldn’t have to park far away and be late to class. There should be enough parking spaces for everyone to park on campus,” Hake said.

However, Hake thinks that few students will change their parking habits with this new rule in mind, because even though there are consequences students still have to park in order to get to class.

“I definitely will try not to park illegally. But I think when it comes down to it, in that moment, most kids will risk getting a

ticket and community service instead of being late to class,” Hake said. 

Redwood has struggled to find the right punitive measurements to solve its parking crisis for years. According to an article dated from 2000 in the Bark by former Redwood student Samantha Reis, students used to lose credit for non-academic classes if they violated parking permit rules.

According to social studies teacher Ann Jaime, parking may have never been as large an issue as it is today, but it has caused controversy at Redwood since the year 2000, when Redwood received money to renovate the campus.

“When we had our modernization bond in the early 2000s, the very first thing they did was close the back parking lot and repave it. So they set up a parking lot basically on the football field or baseball field. There was a little bit of controversy because nobody really wanted to park in the dirt,” Jaime said.

According to Jaime, the parking crisis was settled for the teachers when they got to decide the parking system back in 2000.

“They let teachers vote and so we voted to have it be first come first serve because we knew then it would mean students would be parking in the dirt. But, the principal had tried to talk us into taking the dirt and giving students the parking lot, but that didn’t fly really,” Jaime said.

Along with Sondheim, Jaime also believes that parking is an issue that goes side-by-side with a greater number of students at the school.

“When I started working here [in 1991], Redwood was 1300 or 1400 students so then if you only have that many students then you have that many fewer faculty and all of the things that go along with that. Now it’s just the size of the school and the number of people. And of course Redwood’s population doesn’t all live in walking distance,” Jaime said.

In recent years, more parking permits have been given out than spots have been. According to Sondheim, parking permits are a way to identify students who have parked illegally during an emergency.

“If we don’t have everybody permitted so that we can identify every car that parks in the lot, we have any one of a number of situations including an emergency with a car or a car parked illegally. It is much more difficult to identify who the driver of the car is, should we need to contact him or her,” Sondheim said.

McMahon thinks that students need to be the ones to change their ways in order to solve this parking crisis, rather than having the administration initiate new policy changes.

“Just because you’re in a private lot doesn’t mean that you don’t have to obey the vehicle code. You have to not park in red zones and stay out of handicap areas because those are designated for emergencies or people with disabilities,” McMahon said. “Also if you’re taking two parking spots, then that’s not being a courteous driver.”

According to McMahon, police come to Redwood when they’re called due to a complaint, usually regarding students parking illegally. McMahon has noticed an increase in tickets given out in recent years, which he thinks is due to more students driving themselves to school nowadays.

Sondheim still doesn’t know exactly when parking permit forms will be released.