90 percent reduction in campus towing

By Kristin Martin

No person wants to walk out and see an empty space where he or she was parked. Fortunately for parkers, fewer people are being towed on campus.

From September to December 2010 there were 1,077 tows, compared to the 102 tows in the same time period in 2011. That’s a 90.5 percent reduction in tows.

Lance Broeking, the director of Parking and Transportation Services, is pleased with those numbers.

“That’s a really emotional event when somebody has their car towed,” Broeking said. “So if we can reduce it from a thousand down to a hundred, there’s 900 people out there who haven’t had to go through that experience.”

The drastic drop in the number of tows is the result of changes in enforcement procedure policies and in communication between UK Parking and parking violators.

Before Sept. 8, a vehicle was towed after three unpaid citations. Since then, UK Parking has issued courtesy warnings after three citations and doesn’t impound until the fourth citation.

Last April, UK Parking also started sending emails to permit holders after they received a citation.

Another reason for the decrease in tows is the increase in boots, or wheel clamps.

From September to December 2010, there were 85 boots, compared to 222 in 2011.

Broeking said he expects the number of boots to increase even more.

He prefers booting when impounding is necessary, he said, because it’s a visual reminder of enforcement to everyone and less traumatic than towing.

Booting a car is also cheaper than towing at $60 to get a boot removed, compared to $87 to retrieve a car.

Amanda Finin, a kinesiology sophomore, said she has been towed before, but not by UK. She said she doesn’t see a major difference between boots and tows.

“I don’t want my car towed, but what good is a boot going to do?” she said. “I’m just stuck if there’s a boot on my car. I would rather them just give me a ticket.”

Broeking, who became director last semester, said his goal has been to maintain the same level of enforcement without being as “heavy-handed.”

Last semester there was about a 72 percent reduction in overall impoundments — boots and tows — than the year before. The number of citations also didn’t change much.

“I don’t think we’ve been any more lenient,” he said. “We’ve taken a different approach to it and it seems to be working.”

Broeking said he doesn’t look at parking enforcement as a money-making operation, but going from a thousand tows to a hundred has had a financial impact. However, UK Parking also has kept four positions vacant through attrition while maintaining the

same level of enforcement.

“This has kind of been a win-win,” he said. “It’s a win in terms of we’re able to financially be in the same position as we were before, and we’re not as heavy-handed in terms of our enforcement efforts.”

The new policy primarily affects the number of vehicles towed because of unpaid citations accumulating.

Broeking called that the “escalation of enforcement,” and said that has caused the most tows in the past.

Andrew Marsh, a BCTC sophomore, said he got a citation last semester for parking in a lot near Commonwealth Stadium when he was going to class at BCTC. He wasn’t aware that he needed a permit to park there, but understood why he received the citation.

“Rules are rules, and ignorance of a rule doesn’t excuse breaking it,” Marsh said.

Broeking said there’s room for UK Parking to improve in how parking areas are signed. He wants to be more proactive and improve awareness of parking regulations.

For those who aren’t aware of or choose to violate parking rules, Broeking said the department is willing to work with people so unpaid citations won’t lead to impoundments. He said PTS doesn’t offer payment plans, but often allows people to pay for a citation at a time if they can’t afford the full amount immediately.

Broeking said UK Parking wants to be as transparent as possible, and the department isn’t just trying to see how many violators they can catch.

“Parking is never going to be a warm and fuzzy department,” Broeking said. “I think there’s ways we can do what we do through less aggressive methods — try to enhance our relationship with the campus community.”

Instances that may require towing:

• parking in a restricted area or fire lane

• parking in the wrong area on game days

• parking at a meter more than 24 hours

• altering or forging a permit