Parking Privatization Goes to College

Richard Perez-Pena reports on the new frontier in the rush to monetize publicly owned resources - the college parking lot.
June 5, 2012, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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As state universities try to fill in gaps left by shrinking government support, Ohio State University is on the cutting edge. Following its recent sale of $500 million in 100-year bonds (a first for a public university) and a $25 million exclusive deal for campus A.T.M.'s, Ohio State's latest fund-raising effort echoes a much-maligned parking meter lease concession sold by the City of Chicago.

According to Perez-Pena, "a private bidder has offered $483 million in a lump sum for a lease to operate university parking facilities for 50 years."

"Joseph A. Alutto, the provost, noted that state aid now accounted for only 7 percent of the university's $5 billion annual budget, and that the federal government's budget troubles could lead to even deeper cuts."

"We need to address an increasingly uncertain environment and set some money aside," he said. "We can't go on raising tuition forever. We're looking at all our assets and asking, ‘If they're nonessential assets, how can we turn them into revenue?'"

Perez-Pena notes that, "The plan has stirred controversy on a campus where, according to the school, about 100,000 students and employees park each day. Responding to concerns, the university has included in the deal limits on price increases, and flexibility to increase parking supply. "

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Published on Monday, June 4, 2012 in The New York Times
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