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.

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. "

Full Story: Ohio State Gets $483 Million Bid for Parking Lease



Irvin Dawid's picture

Will CA state universities learn from OH State?

This is huge!
All we've heard in CA is how the state budget deficit will have dire impacts on the UC and CSU systems - but OH State has shown an alternative to cutting university budgets when the state legislature refuses to raise taxes to balance the budget.

Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

Compensation Clause

Unfortunately, there is potential for this to obstruct any significant transportation demand management strategies undertaken by the university. During the initial discussions, there was reference to a possible "compensation clause" within the privatization agreement, under which any parking revenue lost to TDM strategies would require compensation from the university.

No word on whether such a clause will be included in the final proposal, but this is certainly a disconcerting thought.

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