The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

City parking profits being misspent on new machinery

Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN
Cynthia Bear Heart
Anna Logan, Channels Staff

It has taken three years and more than $500,000 in embezzled funds for the parking department of Santa Barbara to realize the ticketing system may be flawed.

The system, which made minor adjustments and new hires to solve the horrific embezzlement scam, will finally receive a full review in all areas of the department.

This is great news because anyone who has received a parking fine would agree that if the devil were a tangible object, it would take the form of a parking ticket.

Because let’s face it, there is nothing worse than arriving to your car and being slapped on the wrist by a $48 ticket, which is more of a punch in the face.

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Okay, there are worse things, but $48 seems like a large price to pay for parking your car somewhere for too long. It’s not like I parked on your mailbox or on your cat.

So after you send your lump sum of cash to the parking department (insert large sigh) where will that money go and how is it spent?

I think these are questions worth asking.

In 2013, $2.35 million parking ticket funds were extracted from the community’s wallets and put into the hands of City Hall. From there, City Hall decides where that money should go.

Ironically, they decided to put $230,000 into new parking enforcement equipment.

New equipment? Was the $2.35 million that you made not enough for your parking department?

Your money may be going to the parking department review, where City Hall has paid a consulting firm upwards of $50,000 to study our system. For that much money, I hope they find a few bugs.  Or even giant rats for that matter.

The review will be looking at the fine along with the ticketing process itself. Enforcement officers will be looked at as well; hopefully they will feel the pain of a bloated fine.

So $280,000 later, and what do we have to show for it?

Yeah, I’m coming up blank too.

I understand that City Hall has an obligation to meet certain needs, but I don’t care how you slice it; $230,000 on new parking equipment is absurd.

What if we were to invest it back to our community instead of giving our departments shiny new machinery?What if the money went to organizations like the Food Bank of Santa Barbara that helps low-income families eat, or use the money to supply struggling parents with clothes for their children?

Your parking fine would become someone else’s fortune.

If you look at it this way, it’s a win-win situation for everyone. If your money went to charities, your ticket may feel like more of a pat on the back.

Sure, the feeling is a stretch because you are still out $48, but wouldn’t you rather it go somewhere besides supplying the community with more ways to fine you again?

If more people questioned how the parking ticket funds were being managed and spent, there could be a potential for significant change.

I encourage you to advocate for not only yourself, but for your money.

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