The lack of parking spaces at the Amarillo College Washington Street Campus is an issue that has been brought up many times.
One familiar complaint is the obvious lack of spaces in comparison to the number of students and staff. During the morning rush, it’s normal to see cars rushing around and circling the parking lots numerous times, the drivers just waiting for a chance to grab a spot.
“You have to work in a 15-minute window,” said Ruby Escobal, a general studies major. “For your 10:30 class, get here at 10:15 and catch parking spots as people leave.”
Even then, students often are late for class because they spend too much time having to find a parking spot or they have to park too far away from their classrooms.
“I usually try to get here at 7:30 to always have guaranteed parking,” said Janae McDaniel, a food management major. “I always end up having to park further out when I’m here closer to 9.”
McDaniel’s problem is a common theme across the Washington Street Campus. Cpl. Scott Acker, AC Police Department crime prevention educator, has been at AC almost two years and is familiar with many campus parking problems.
“It’s the craziest around the Washington Campus because that’s where all of the students go if you’re a freshman starting out,” Acker said. “We get so many students every year, people are starting to park two blocks down.”
Some students, he said, have decided the gamble of waiting for a space is not worth it and are just dealing deal with the fines from parking illegally.
“Most tickets we give out are for not parking within the lines, blocking a fire hydrant, parking in a fire lane, blocking a driveway and parking in places marked prohibited,” Acker said.
“I got three parking violations in the same week,” Escobal said. “One for parking on the wrong side of the street, one for parking in a spot at the wrong time and another for parking in front of a sign.”
While city tickets often are much higher, some students have told Acker the cost of the campus tickets doesn’t really faze them.
“When we write college tickets, the fines on them are $10. People can appeal them within seven days,” Acker said. “If you don’t appeal or pay within the seven days, then it goes to $20 and stays there.”
The campus fines may not seem like much, but there are other consequences if they aren’t resolved. For example, academic records will be held and a student will be unable to register for classes the next semester and possibly even prevented from graduating. Some parking violations could result in towing.
In the case of the city, an offender can choose to either pay or contest the ticket by the time and date given. If the violation is simply ignored, Acker said, it could turn into a warrant that could lead to an arrest.
There’s a simple way to avoid being ticketed, he said.
“We get a lot of students calling and asking about permits and where you can and cannot park on campus,” Acker said.
ACPD officers would like students to remember that all parking areas are available aside from those clearly marked faculty and staff. General traffic regulations of the state and city are applicable on all AC campuses.