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Yorktown Sentry

The Perils of Parking

Photo by Rachel Finley/SENTRY

Photo by Rachel Finley/SENTRY

Natalie Reich, Sentry Staff Reporter

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There is a crucial difference between knowing the rules and obeying them. Logically, it may be rather difficult to obey the rules without first knowing them. Regarding the parking at school, many students are not even aware of the rules and consequently are not able to follow them. Somewhere lost in translation among the administrators, students and teachers, there are restrictions on parking that have proved surprising.

Three administrators are generally in charge of parking this year: School Resource Officer Sean Bryson, Assistant Principal John Doll and Assistant Resource Officer Kip Davis. For the most part, they are the ones regulating and enforcing parking on school grounds. They know the rules of parking better than anyone else, rules that are quite basic and simple in theory. These rules revolve around one thing: parking passes in form of decals.

“Every parking spot at Yorktown requires a decal, expect for the pool [parking spots]. The pool parking is for patrons, who park there and then sign in at the pool entrance. But every other spot requires a decal, either by staff or by student, which in this case, is only for seniors. Door six down to the Greenbrier lot, which is near door eight, is for seniors [with passes] only. To the right of door six down into the larger parking is for staff. Junior parking should be on the streets,” said Doll.

This might come as a shock to many, since the parking lot has become a sort of free-for-all. There is no such thing as the what is commonly known among students as the “junior lot” (the skinny parking lot starting just past door six), and students definitely cannot park in the so-called “pool lot” (the parking lot directly parallel to the pool). Seniors with parking passes are the only students technically allowed to park in any parking spot on school property during the school day. One can obtain a pass by winning a lottery at the beginning of the year.

“You have to enter the lottery as a senior. There are generally 75 parking spaces available. We did a lottery, put all the names into a hat, and I drew the names at random. If you win the lottery, you pay $50 for a parking pass,”  said Doll.

If a junior or a pass-less senior or, for that matter, a pass-less staff member decides to plunk their car in a spot, they run the risk of receiving a ticket.

“What it comes down to, is when someone is not parking in the appropriate spot in the parking lot, it’s generally considered parking in a restricted area, and the fine is $50,” said Bryson.

Out of all the administrators and staff members who work at school every day, Bryson is the only one allowed to issue parking tickets. Arlington county, and therefore the police, have the authority to ticket on school property but Arlington Public Schools does not. Most of the time Arlington’s Public Service Aids (PSAs), also known as meter maids, are those ticketing at and around school.

“I have not issued a ticket, not saying that I won’t, but I haven’t yet. It’s all been warnings so far by me, but then there have been certain days when the PSAs have come through and have checked the parking lot and they have checked the neighborhood,” said Bryson.

For a couple of weeks in January, Doll, Davis, Bryson and others handed out warning fliers to give people notice. The purpose of this was to get everyone’s attention and help them be aware of the parking regulations, which were listed on the pink flier sheet. Unfortunately, this grace period is now over. Tickets have been and will be given to anyone parked in a restricted area. To receive a ticket, one must be a senior or staff member without a pass parking in any space, be a junior parking in any space, park in a space for visitors of the school, pool or Greenbrier park, or park in any zone-10 space in the neighborhoods around the school. Along with these restrictions, all other normal rules are enforced, like keeping tags updated and not parking in a handicap space.

“All the other parking requirements apply. You should envision the parking lot at Yorktown High School as being just the same as Wilson Boulevard in front of Ballston Mall. The lot is now kind of like a public street for our purposes,” said Bryson.

There are two major problems at hand within the realm of parking: students not obeying the rules even after being warned or ticketed and students simply not knowing the rules. Senior Nicole Calvert, who has only collected one rather harmless warning flier for parking in the Greenbrier lot without a pass, is not alone is her misguided perception of the parking rules at school. When asked to explain the rules, she said,

“Seniors with passes in the senior lot, and then I think mostly teachers in the pool lot and beyond. The one lot that’s like 30 spots is for juniors but anyone can park there really, and streets is everyone else. I know that they really can’t give us tickets at this point because they don’t have permission from the county to.”

Contrary to what Calvert and most likely hundreds of other students believe, tickets are a real and serious possibility. But since tickets are now being doled out by Arlington county to people on school property, why is parking still a problem? The answer to this may very well lie in the lack of communication about parking rules between students and administration, or may be related to the inconsistent, not exactly threatening methods of ticketing.

Once the parking restrictions and possible repercussions of violating them are publicly known, it is up to the individual to decide whether or not to obey them. Davis spoke directly to the issue.

“Driving is a privilege and it’s a choice here. There are students that don’t follow the rules, but we live in a world of rules, you have to follow them.”

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The Perils of Parking