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Phantom parking perils

It’s an absolute nightmare. You drive around forever, desperately searching for an open parking space, and when you finally do find one, it’s clear across campus from your dorm or wherever else you need to be. Then just when you think you’re in the clear, you have to worry about whether you parked in the correct lot or not. The fact that more parking permits seem to have been issued than there are parking spaces available only makes the situation that much more maddening.

So imagine my surprise when, in the midst of the crowded Upper Campus lot, I found not one, but two empty parking spaces right next to each other. Sure, they were behind Hainer Hall and therefore a bit out of the way, but they were available and there wasn’t a “No Parking” indicator in sight, so I parked there and went on my way without a second thought. When I returned to my car the next day, I was dumbfounded to find a parking ticket from Campus Security tucked under my windshield wiper, allegedly for parking in a No Parking Area.

 

Only after carefully examining the pavement did I finally make out the painted lines on the asphalt which would indicate that the spot is indeed a No Parking Area. The paint has either faded away completely or been worn off the pavement, and what little paint did remain was so faded that it was nearly invisible against the equally worn blacktop. From inside of a car, the stripes are invisible.

I am not the only one who has fallen prey to this hidden No Parking Area: my dorm room in Hainer overlooks this spot, and since the school year has begun I have witnessed several students unwittingly park in this Phantom No Parking Zone only to be ticketed by Campus Security.

This problem isn’t limited to only one spot on campus. A few days after my ticket, a friend reported that he’d been in an identical situation behind Doane Hall. His ordeal matched mine almost word for word: no signs, no markings on the pavement, yet he was still ticketed for parking in a No Parking Area. The only difference between my story and his is that he immediately went to Campus Security armed with pictures of his Phantom No Parking Zone and got the ticket dismissed.

There are signs in every residence hall on campus saying that students should consult their Student Handbook for the locations where they should not park, and that “I didn’t know” is not an excuse for parking illegally. On page 43 of the Handbook, it says that vehicles may not be parked, among other locations, in “Any place where parking is prohibited by posted signs.” However, in none of the cases that I have mentioned were there any posted signs or clearly visible markings of any sort that would indicate that the vehicles had been parked in restricted areas.

How can students possibly know that they are parking illegally if there are no posted signs or any other markings telling them that they are not allowed to park there? Campus Security needs to clearly mark all No Parking and Restricted Parking Areas so that students truly can know that they are parking illegally.

As for me, I’ll pay my fine, but only because I waited too long to appeal my ticket. But this is the last time. If I ever again find myself the victim of a Phantom No Parking Zone, I will be appealing the moment I find the ticket, and I encourage all other victims to do the same.

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