As the University of Miami readjusts to having over 15,000 students back on campus, the parking lots are readjusting to the thousands of cars that accompany them.
With students constantly rushing in and out of the lots to make it to class on time or beat Miami rush hour and many appearing to struggle to stay between the lines, the parking lots have been declared a battle zone. “It’s kill or be killed in the Red Lot,” RedCup Miami (@redcup.miami), a popular student-led instagram page, captioned a post showing a series of cars damaged in parking accidents.
The aforementioned Red Lot is one of the largest parking spaces for students, who can also choose between the Pavia and Levant Garage, Mahoney-Pearson Garage or Yellow Lot. While there have been no readjustments to the line-spacing of the parking spots this year, students have complained that some spaces are next-to-impossible to fit in.
“It’s really hard to park, the spots are just really tiny. If anyone’s like even the littlest bit crooked you can’t get into the spot,” senior political science Betsy Mullins said.
Her car was scuffed and scratched in the Red Lot, with no note left. Mullins called the police to get a report for insurance, but they could not do anything more to find who was responsible for the damages, she explained.
In addition to damages, simply finding a spot has become a challenge. UM’s Department of Parking and Transportation confirmed that the ratio of parking spaces to permits sold is consistent with last year and cited increased traffic at the beginning of the semester is likely the cause of the issue instead.
“It is typical to see higher than normal usage of this lot in the first 4-6 weeks of the semester. However, the inappropriate parking method and attention from social media has been substantially more from what has been seen in previous years,” the Department said in a statement to The Miami Hurricane.
The parking cause has been taken up by RedCup Miami, who has been fueling, and they believe correcting, the situation by posting pictures and videos of cars double parked or left damaged in the Red Lot.
“Over the past two weeks we have had a significant increase in submissions of both bad parking jobs and hit-and-runs,” senior Dylan Pitt, a RedCup team member, said. “We started posting pictures of said incidents to bring more awareness to the issue and have since noticed that UM appears to be taking steps to fix the problem.”
In their statement, Parking and Transportation said they would be increasing the enforcement of citations for double parking, especially during peak parking hours. They have also looked into long-term adjustments.
“Facilities Operations and Planning is exploring the possibility of reconfiguring parking spaces in the red lots in the future,” Parking and Transportation said.
The RedCup team has also called for an increase in cameras in the lots, as suggested by their post of a petition to put more surveillance in the Red Lot. These students believe that cameras would be most beneficial in preventing hit-and-runs.
Some areas of the lots have cameras, and garages now as well, however, these cameras are not guaranteed to pick up the license plates or faces of those involved in accidents. It is also not the responsibility of the University to hold drivers accountable for damages they may have caused parking, as noted in their 2021-2022 Parking Policies and Procedures. This authority falls under the UM Police Department.
Instead of relying on these cameras or UMPD though, students have taken matters into their own hands by taking note of what cars are parked next to them before heading into campus.
“I myself have been taking pictures of the plates next to me when parking in the red lot,” Pitt said.
Parking has also been limited in the Pink Zones this year, despite no additional permits being sold from last year’s, with commuters unable to find parking for several minutes or only on the top floors.
“Parking this year is very messy compared to last year. The school definitely oversold parking spaces. I have a pink parking permit and it takes me a lot of time to find parking, 99% of the time on the 6th floor of Pavia in the sun. Last semester it wasn’t like that,” junior business technology major Ahmed Elfeky said.
Prior to the start of the 2023-2024 academic year, UM made adjustments to parking, merging the previous pink and brown spaces (the Pavia and Levante Garages) and requiring residents to park on the top three floors, slightly expanding the red and white lots and moving the Mahoney-Pearson Garage to teal zoning.
The new requirement to have all residents park on the top three floors had little adherence during the first weeks of the fall semester, Elfeky feels, and has not “improved access to those who are moving their vehicles daily” as the Department had intended.
“I don’t think residents are actually parking on the top floors because the top floors are always emptier than the lower ones. The school needs to figure it out because it literally takes time off my schedule to find parking,” he said.
Similar to the Red Lot, the Department is anticipating the issue will dissipate as the school year continues and will continue to regularly enforce the garages.