Parking off campus could be costly

Francisco Lizares and Francisco Lizares

Current parking fees have prompted students to prioritize finances and propose changes to the Cerritos College parking policies.

“Books are more important than a parking pass,” is how Cerritos College student Jonathan Sioteco, geography major, responds to the cost of parking at Cerritos College.

Sioteco attends Orange Coast College as well as Cerritos College and he believes that Cerritos College could benefit from some of its parking policies to help students out financially.

One thing that Sioteco likes about Orange Coast College is that it gives its students two weeks of free parking at the start of the semester since he said it understands “financial aid doesn’t come through right away.”

Sioteco adds that students can also benefit from paying only for the time they need on campus. He said that students should have the option of paying “two dollars for the whole day and one dollar for four hours.”

Brianna Capasso, zoology major, said that since college fees are on the rise, “more students are not willing to pay for the passes anymore and they are going off into the neighborhoods to park.”

There are no free alternatives to the $35 semester parking pass or the $2 daily permit. Cerritos College checks for vehicles that are not displaying the appropriate passes in the parking lots and the campus is surrounded by residential tow-away zones.

According to the Cerritos College Campus Police website, towing “fines and fees may run hundreds of dollars per towed vehicle.”

The Norwalk Sheriff’s Department charges $170 to release a vehicle and Vernola’s towing will bill the owner of the towed vehicle at least $127 for its services.

Drivers are also responsible for any parking citations that may be issued.

Tow trucks like those belonging to Vernola’s are used by the city of Norwalk to enforce residential permit parking zones around Cerritos College.

Vernola’s tow trucks bear the name of the Norwalk Vice-Mayor, Luigi Vernola. He started the towing company when he was 20 years old, his online biography says.

The current owner of Vernola’s towing is the Vice-Mayor’s daughter Lisa Vernola, according to the California Secretary of State website.

Kevin Estevez, Criminal justice major, said that the Vice-Mayor could be “playing favors because the daughter owns the company,” when awarding contracts to enforce tow-away zones. Vice-Mayor Luigi Vernola said he currently does not have anything to do with the company.