Thursday, February 9, 2023

Police say oops to illegal parking

August 28, 2001
No parking signs were disregarded during Welcome Week because of a lack of parking spots. /Oops0 warnings were distributed instead of tickets for some illegally parked vehicles —

Kelly Downey racked up $53 in parking ticket charges while moving in this Welcome Week.

Oops.

But MSU’s Department of Police and Public Safety introduced a system to warn and inform parents and students about illegal parking without the cost: the “oops ticket.”

“I’d rather have that on my car than a ticket,” said Downey, an advertising sophomore who ended the week with four parking tickets. “The whole parking thing is so annoying. There just isn’t any. I just parked in front of my window to move in.

“At least the parking tickets are reasonably priced.”

The oops ticket was introduced this year during Welcome Week to provide more leniency during move-in time. Nearly 20,000 students and their parents travel to campus on move-in days with computers, clothes and kids - but no extra parking spaces.

“All of campus is a mess,” said Dawn Mazur, parking enforcement supervisor. “Wherever you were moving into a dorm, north, south, east or west, it was a mess.”

Mazur said instead of leaving a bad first impression on parents and students with a welcome-back parking ticket, the oops ticket provides information about police services and location. Three hundred of the pseudo tickets were handed out last week.

Other community friendly actions MSU police are enacting include carrying gas canisters for out-of-fuel drivers. Other parking enforcers will change flat tires, charge batteries and carry duct tape and plastic to replace broken windows.

Mazur said the oops ticket was a method of positive enforcement, although many drivers may have left their cars illegally parked longer because they knew they wouldn’t receive a ticket.

“The theory behind this is we’re trying to go to a more customer service approach,” Mazur said. “The person who gets hundreds of dollars in tickets isn’t going to care, but to the person who has a flat tire, their opinion might change.”

“I really think that we’re trying to do something really unique.”

MSU Police Capt. Bernard Burns said although only 300 of the bright yellow “oops tickets” were handed out this Welcome Week, the 700 leftovers might be used during other campus-clogging occasions, such as athletic events, holidays or dorm hall move-out days.

“Parking has never been a very popular subject, and it’s very chaotic” he said. “Move-in is organized chaos. It’s a very special circumstance. We let a lot of things go.”

More than 100,000 parking tickets were issued on campus last year, but the number is down 10,000 from the year before. About 25 student parking enforcers dole out tickets to illegally parked cars throughout the year.

Cars blocking fire lanes, sitting for long periods, obstructing traffic or complicating the move-in process were all open to tickets ranging from $15- $100.

“The number of tickets we handed out this week was very limited,” Burns said. “Nobody likes parking tickets, but they’re a necessary evil.”

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