Parking permit system creates controversy

Many cars that take spaces do not have required permits


Ryan Syms

In Cal High’s back parking, a majority of cars display the required permit on the rearview mirror. However, about 20 percent of cars from a random sample did not display permits.

After paying $100 for his parking permit, senior Jeren Cuenco pulled into Cal High’s back parking lot in his Toyota Camry, expecting to be greeted by a stretch of empty parking spaces.

But to his dismay, he was faced with a completely packed parking lot. Cuenco isn’t the only student driver who has faced a similar scenario.

The situation stems from dozens of students parking without the required permits to use the campus lots.

The Californian staff counted 150 random cars in the back parking lot on Feb. 28. Of those 150 cars, 31 lacked permits and none were ticketed. 

One month later, The Californian staff counted another 150 random cars in the back parking lot on March 31. 34 cars lacked permits. Of those, three had been issued a $35 ticket.

Students, including junior Aarja Singh and Cuenco, have noticed a handful of drivers who park at school without permits. Neither have noticed any cars being ticketed by staff. 

The lack of ticketed cars has to do with a lack of staffing, Principal Megan Keefer said.

“We have one campus monitor today and they’re running around doing all sorts of other things,” Keefer said. “We have to prioritize student safety over the parking permits. But when we’re fully staffed, they’re out there on a regular basis.”

Campus monitor Tim Ford agrees that the number of staff is insufficient to cover ticketing as well as other current staff duties. 

“Sometimes these days, we don’t even have time,” Ford said. “We’re running around the school and checking classrooms and helping the teachers that are missing.”

All student parking spots are filled almost every school day. Some cars that arrive at a packed parking lot are parked horizontally behind parking spaces, blocking cars from exiting and creating hazards for drivers. 

“I purposefully get to school earlier so I can find space to park,” Cuenco said. 

Administrators said that the parking system is in need of improvement. Keefer plans to seek student feedback and discuss with Site Council.

“We’ll take that feedback of improvement and then solidify it toward the end of the year,” Keefer said. “Some things we’re discussing are assigning parking spaces and giving priority to carpool.”

Parking permits cost $100 per year for the larger back parking lot and $150 annually for the smaller lot by the tennis courts and pool. Students have to take a Smart Start driver safety course, held in collaboration with Street Smarts and California Highway Patrol, in order to purchase a permit. 

Several students expressed their frustration at the high cost of parking in an overcrowded parking lot.  

“The permits should be less expensive and more accessible to people,” Singh said. “Parking at Mangos Drive is a good alternative. It’s about the same distance from school and less packed.”

Both Keefer and Ford said vehicles parked on Mangos and Broadmoor Drive, and other areas off campus, are ticketed by San Ramon police, not the school. City parking tickets are usually $125.

“I don’t think the permits are worth it, since leaving the parking lot after school takes too long,” Cuenco said. “Parking should be free.” 

Other students are frustrated with the parking lot.  

“Parking is a scam, not only do they overcharge for permits, they don’t enforce it,” junior Darren Murphy said. “They don’t file the tickets correctly so if you just don’t pay, there are no real repercussions.”