Virtual parking and Self-Service create confusion for students

Photo by Edgar Galvan // el Don

Parking on campus without a valid pass will get you a $45 ticket, but students say they’ve been frustrated with the district’s unclear communication about how to buy into the new permitting system. 

Safety & Security staff sent out emails Nov. 8 with information on how to purchase a $30 parking permit through Self-Service before launching the new virtual system this semester. But some students say that the email went to their spam folder. Some of those that did see the email said the included link didn’t work.

“As with any new program there is a learning curve and there have been a few minor issues but nothing widespread,” Lt. David Waters said. “To date we have processed over 5300 student permits districtwide and over 1600 faculty and staff permits and over 400 guest permits.”

Last fall, Rancho Santiago Community College District announced it was moving to a virtual parking pass system, which connects to your car’s license plate number instead of a physical pass. Parking permits were on hiatus since last June, and were not required for students during the fall 2022 semester. 

Officials say the goal of moving to a new system is to be more convenient for students and more efficient for security staff to enforce permits. However, not all students are having an easier time.

“I really don’t know where to get the virtual permit, I have just been paying $2 at the pay stations every time I am on campus,” first year student Alejandro Martinez said during the second week of school. 

Martinez and others eventually found a way to purchase a permit without the instructions provided by the school. Students said they faced additional challenges due to the introduction of Self-Service, which replaced Web Adviser at the beginning of this semester. Many students said they are still adapting to the tools and navigation in Self-Service.

“I went onto the SAC website and tried to click on the link that they provided but it didn’t take me anywhere I could purchase a permit. I was eventually able to figure it out through Self-Service,” Juan Carlos Gutiera said. 

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To give people time to go online and purchase a new virtual parking permit, the district implemented a two-week grace period. Starting the week of Feb. 20, campus Safety & Security staff started issuing tickets using license plate scanners mounted on top of their vehicles and embedded in handheld devices. 

“I think it is super unfair that I was issued a ticket when SAC has made it so hard to even purchase a permit,” said student Olivia Wick. The district is also aware of issues like students mistakenly putting in their car’s VIN number instead of their license plate number or students mis-typing their license plates. 

“Since this is a new program there have been some cases where a student may have incorrectly entered information in their account which resulted in a citation,” Lt. Waters explained. “Once brought to our attention we have been able to work with the students to correct their account and dismiss the cite.”

Students that have had any issues after purchasing a permit can contact the Safety & Security office at 714-564-6348.

For the students that haven’t purchased a permit yet, they are available here.  Permits cost $30, but a $20 permit is available for those who prove financial need through scholarships or financial aid.This will cover students for the semester. Visitor and one-day passes are still being offered for $2 a day. Students can have two license plates per permit, and permits will work across all RSCCD campuses.

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