Most people familiar with Chapel Hill parking difficulties wouldn’t be surprised to hear the town brings in almost a quarter of a million dollars every year in parking fines alone.
Brenda Jones, the town’s parking superintendent, said the Chapel Hill collected $221,000 in fines and another $30,000 in late fees last year.
Price of parking
$221,000: collected by Chapel Hill in parking fines last year
$30,000: collected by Chapel Hill in late fees last year
$100,000: Chapel Hill’s estimated 2014 parking services budget deficit
Jones said a majority of these tickets are written to vehicles parked on East and West Franklin Street.
Nathan Babcock, who graduated from UNC in 2001, received a parking ticket in July while visiting the University.
Babcock said he was parked outside of Sutton’s Drug Store when he received his ticket.
“It had been a while since I had been in Chapel Hill,” he said. “I forgot there was a meter on Saturdays.”
But thanks to the Chapel Hill Parking Division’s courtesy ticket program, a person’s first ticket on a street meter will be waived.
Even though the town collected more than $250,000 in parking fees and fines, it’s still not enough to cover its growing parking costs.
In its fiscal year 2014, the town estimated an almost $100,000 budget deficit in its parking services division
The town’s parking fund has been running a deficit since fiscal year 2011 after it lost a parking lot during the construction of the mixed-use development 140 West. The division’s other operating costs have increased while its revenues have largely been flat.
For many students, their parking woes stem from limited on-campus parking.
Ashley Webster , a UNC junior, has received multiple tickets during her time in Chapel Hill.
She has received two tickets on Stadium Drive, one of which was when she was visiting a friend last summer. Webster said some of her tickets were written when her car was illegally parked for only a few minutes.
“When I lived in Parker dorm, I’d park in front and run up to my room and grab something,” she said. “When I came back I’d have a ticket.”
Webster said she would prefer if there was more parking available to students.
Jones said while the town doesn’t manage on-campus parking, there are plans for a new parking deck coming to University Square.
As for the rest of Chapel Hill, Jones said there is a 16-space lot on Rosemary Street that rarely fills up and the meters in the town are usually not occupied. She said parking problems cannot always be attributed to a lack of space.
“I don’t know that the problem is that we don’t have enough parking,” Jones said. “It may just be that it’s not advertised well enough.”
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