There is a standing joke here that says, “Hill Air Force Base doesn’t have a parking problem, it has a walking problem.” That may be good for a chuckle, but the truth is Hill does have a parking problem.
There are a very large number of people who work on the base, many of them in buildings a fair distance from their assigned parking lot. This can be inconvenient in good weather and pretty uncomfortable in bad. The majority deal with this challenge by arriving early enough for the walk and well-equipped for the weather. Few truly enjoy it, but most adhere to the rules. Others do not adhere to the rules and choose to park in unauthorized areas.
The rules are written in AFI 31-218, Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, and AFMAN 31-116, Air Force Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, as supplemented by Hill AFB. These publications give installation commanders the authority to establish rules for the efficient use of available parking facilities. They also give the installation commander the authority to suspend, for up to six months, the driving privileges of drivers who continually violate installation parking regulations. These publications also govern an installation’s parking warden program.
Parking wardens monitor and cite parking violators at facilities under the warden’s control. Hill’s parking warden program currently has more than 75 trained wardens actively monitoring parking lots. In 2015, wardens issued 3,025 parking citations. The majority of drivers issued citations learned from their mistake. Others became habitual parking offenders.
A habitual parking offender is someone who receives three or more parking citations within a 60-day period or six or more parking citations in a six-month period. At Hill, the authority to suspend or revoke privileges for habitual offenders has been delegated to the 75th Mission Support Group commander. The most common excuse for repeat violation is the belief that there really aren’t any consequences for receiving parking citations.
The consequences can be serious. When a worker’s privileges are suspended, it means they are not allowed to drive on the installation. It can mean the inconvenience of significantly altering your schedule to ride public transit, the embarrassment of explaining to your colleagues why you need a ride to work for the next six months, and if you can’t arrange transportation, suspended driving privileges can impact your job.
People caught driving on the installation after their privileges have been suspend may have their privileges revoked for up to an additional two years.
The problem isn’t only one sector of employees, either. In 2015, more than 20 people whose privileges were suspended were contractors, civilians, enlisted military members and officers, some of them with as many as 26 violations.
Habitual offenders create problems for other people, too. Their carelessness takes parking wardens away from their primary duties, ties up security forces clerks who process the huge number of citations, and incites bad feelings among law-abiding drivers. Disputes over parking have led to heated arguments, mental and emotional abuse of parking wardens, unsafe conditions, and a drain on productivity.
Restricted parking lots are marked at the entrances. Restricted parking spaces are marked with conspicuous signage. All new employees, military and civilian, are briefed during base orientation about parking restrictions and the existence of the parking warden program. Despite this, violations continue.
For those who believe that pink copy of the parking citation fluttering under their windshield wiper means little, there are consequences. Those who enforce the rules aren’t unfairly targeting the violators; they’re enforcing the rights of the thousands of base employees who follow the rules.