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May 13, 2002

Campus postpones 24/7 parking enforcement

By Jennifer McNulty

Administrators have postponed the September implementation of 24-hour parking enforcement on campus, Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood announced at last week's brown-bag forum with staff.

"Night parking hasn't ever been free.... There have always been expenses associated with night parking."

--Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood

The decision will give the campus a chance to explore a number of issues that have come up since the plan was announced, said Greenwood, adding that, "We're not going to do this without discussion."

"Night parking hasn't ever been free," Greenwood emphasized to the gathering of about 150 people who turned out for the chancellor's final brown-bag staff forum of the academic year. "It's just been free to the people who weren't paying. There have always been expenses associated with night parking."

Currently, people who park on campus during the day pay the full cost of the parking enforcement program, and Greenwood suggested that perhaps people who park at night should pay their share.

"There will be a lot of opportunity for input," said Greenwood, adding that one possibility would be to offer "flexibility for certain classifications of employees."

One of the first staff comments during the discussion part of the forum came from a campus employee who said she believes many people who park on campus at night are students or staff who are here to clean the buildings. "I would hate to have the extra burden (of parking fees) put on those people," she said.

After brief remarks about the budget, parking, and housing, Greenwood fielded questions from the audience for the better part of an hour. The brown-bag series will continue in the fall.

Budgets and buildings

In light of uncertainty about the state and federal economies, UCSC's budget picture is likely to remain blurry well into the summer and perhaps into September, said Greenwood. Revised state budget numbers will be announced May 14, and the university will assess its standing after that, she said.

The University of California has benefited from the governor's economic stimulus package, which helped fund construction of the Engineering Building and other facilities at UCSC, among other projects throughout the UC system, said Greenwood. "We'll break ground on that project in June," she said of the Engineering Building.

Campus construction is also moving ahead with the rest of Colleges Nine and Ten scheduled to open in the fall, the University Center on target to open in winter quarter, and bid packages for infill student apartments expected to go out by early summer.

Faculty and staff housing

Regarding faculty and staff housing, Greenwood said the Campus Welfare Committee is meeting to develop priorities that will determine who gets access to campus housing and the new apartments at Laureate Court. Members of the campus community are encouraged to attend a public meeting to discuss priorities on May 20. The challenge is to accommodate housing needs among faculty, graduate students, and staff, she said.

"I want to be very clear on the fact that we are continually trying to find a way to make housing available to staff," said Greenwood. Some housing may be designated for staff as part of the proposed north campus development, she noted, saying "probably substantially higher" than the 10 to 15 percent suggested by a member of the audience. "I'm very sympathetic to staff having entree to campus housing," she said.

Parking costs, availability

In response to another question, Greenwood acknowledged that as of July 1 staff will be paying 70 percent more than faculty for campus "A" permits because of a stalemate in labor negotiations that has frozen rates for faculty. "There was never any intention that faculty and staff parking rates would be different," she said. "We're in the process of trying to get this resolved at the bargaining table."

Greenwood reiterated her own frustration about campus parking issues, which are a recurring theme of the staff forums.

"I do believe parking has become an unnecessary stressor in discussion of how we build our campus," said Greenwood. "Eventually, we will have to go with at least one more parking structure, maybe two. We're trying to figure out the finances."

'Living wage' concept

Heat plant specialist Daniel Young asked Greenwood to endorse the concept of a "living wage" of $12-14 per hour for campus employees, and although Greenwood declined to endorse it on the spot, the chancellor did request a breakdown of current staff salaries.

"In theory, everyone supports a living wage," she said. "The issue is how it would build out on our campus. Would we have higher wages and fewer people? Because we won't have a larger pot of money, so maybe we'd have fewer better-paid people."

Violence prevention

Another staff question prompted a discussion of workplace-violence prevention programs available through the UCSC Police Department.

"We promote a zero-tolerance policy regarding acts of violence and intimidation," said Police Chief Jan Tepper. Any campus unit may request a workplace safety presentation, said Tepper, and a new brochure on the topic will be available this summer. Training for supervisors is also available, and the campus is planning a safety training day for the fall, said Tom Vani, vice chancellor of Business and Administrative Services.

"We're trying to get safety back on the agenda, and we're reinvigorating the building coordinator program," said Vani.

Looking ahead

Conceding that budget uncertainties will persist this year, Greenwood emphasized her desire to keep the campus poised and "ready to move when the money starts to flow again."

And she ended the meeting on a note of encouragement: "Anytime you're feeling tired of what you're doing, remember, many organizations produce things. What we do is help people realize their dreams," said Greenwood. Many UCSC students are the first in their families to attend college, and it is a "lifeshaking experience."

"You can take pride, as the faculty and I do, in the fact that somewhere along the line, you've made a difference in these people's lives," she said.

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