First-Time Parking Violators at USC Have Unique Way to Appeal Tickets


First-Time Parking Violators at USC Have Unique Way to Appeal Tickets

Editor’s note: PT received this email from David Donovan, Associate Director of Operations, Department of Transportation, at the University of Southern California. We share it with you here.
I had the pleasure of picking up the October 2013 issue of Parking Today from my mailbox today, and as I read through it, I thought your readers might enjoy hearing about one of the tools we’re using with first-time offenders to both educate them regarding their violation and capitalize on the fact that we’re a university: our First-time Violator’s Appeal Exam.
What specifically prompted me to think about it today was the extremely kind email we received (see sidebar below) from a recent test-taker, Teresa Hudock, a staff member at USC. We have a couple different versions of the exam, which combine general questions with a few targeted ones specific to the violation incurred; the one Teresa took is attached for reference.
As you can see, the word “exam” is used in the loosest context possible, since we provide the answers at the end. The real goal of the test is to re-educate violators, and it uses a very casual, hopefully humorous writing style.  Our intent was to combine approachability with education; providing the answer key at the end (and requiring 100% on the exam) forces testers to go back and make sure they answered correctly – forcing them to process the correct information twice, if you will.
For more information, contact Donovan at
Since USC is primarily an educational institution, one of the goals of USC Transportation is to make sure rule offenders
1) understand why their violation occurred, and 2) know how to prevent them in the future. The opportunity to have your violation reduced to a warning by passing this test is available for first-time offenders only, so please take your time with it!

INSTRUCTIONS: Please read each question carefully, and mark the box next to the BEST answer to each question with an “X”. In order for your violation to be reduced to a warning, you must score 100% on this ten-question exam. When all the questions have been answered, save the exam and email it back to us at: Good luck!

1)     EVERYONE who works at, attends, or visits USC must pay for parking: students, faculty, staff, visitors, President C. L. Max Nikias…everyone.
a) True
b) False

2)     Which of the following are the two most important considerations when it comes to correctly displaying a parking pass or permit?
    a)     Being a faculty or staff member or student at USC
    b)     Possessing a valid permit or daily-use pass for the area in which
        you’re parked
    c)     Knowing which of the on-campus structures is closest to where
        you want to be
    d)    Displaying it properly (hanging / affixed to windshield / face-up on
        dashboard, depending on type)
    a & b
    a & c
    a & d
    b & c
    b & d
    c & d
3)     If you receive a parking citation, how long do you have to address it before penalties are assessed?
a)    7 days
b)    14 days
c)     21 days
d)     8 days

4)     If you correctly file a first-level appeal for a citation, who can review/decide on it?
    a)     Only the USC Transportation Citations Department Manager
    b)     Any Associate Director in USC Transportation
    c)     Only the Director, USC Transportation
    d)     Any of the above
5)     Approximately how many citations does USC Transportation issue annually?
    a)    10,000
    b)     17,500
    c)     25,000
    d)     31,000

6)     USC Transportation’s main purpose is to establish and enforce rules and regulations that promote the safe and orderly movement of traffic and parking of vehicles within USC campuses and other USC-owned properties.

7)     Does USC have any electric vehicle charging stations? If so, can you use them?
    a)     No, USC doesn’t support earth-saving initiatives like electric vehicles
    b)     Yes, we have over a hundred, but only USC campus vehicles and golf carts can use them. Sorry!
    c)     Yes, we currently have eleven Level II chargers and one Level III charger available for public use
    d)     No, but we do rent out extension cords, and can run them to almost any space
on campus

8)     What is your best source of information regarding USC Transportation’s Rules & Regulations?
    a)     Our website:
    b)     our Resident Advisor (for students) or Department Coordinator (for faculty/staff)
    c)     Friends and family who are alumni, and/or coworkers who have been at USC more than 5 years
    d)     Your roommate, because he’s a junior, and he’s gotten a lot of citations, so he knows “the system”

9)    If someone is displaying a state-issued handicapped placard, where can they park on campus?
    a)     In any handicapped spot – IF – they also display any valid USC
    permit or daily pass
    b)     At any parking meter – IF – they also display any valid USC permit
    or daily pass (visitors excluded)
    c)     In any handicapped spot – OR – parking meter; they don’t need
    anything other than their state placard
    d)     Both a & b

10)    If you can’t find a regular spot to park in your assigned location, what should you do?
    a)     Park in an unused “Reserved” spot – that guy is NEVER there
    b)     Contact the nearest gate attendant, who will instruct you where you
        can park
    c)     Write us a long, ranting email expressing your rage at the injustice
        of your lot being full
    d)     Park in any available on-campus lot or structure – we know your
        location was full, so it’s fine

Your full name:

     Ten-digit USC ID number (if applicable):     

    Citation Number: (Office use only: exam return date/decision date):     

USC Parking Exam Answer Key:

1)     TRUE – There is a campus-wide exception on Commencement day, and a few other exceptions, but as a rule, everyone pays for parking.

2)     b & d – The two most important factors are having a valid permit, and then displaying it properly. Failure to display a permit properly, even if the permit itself is valid, subjects your vehicle to citation, immobilization, or impound.

3)     c) – You have 21 days in which to address a citation, either by paying it or filing a first-level appeal. Citations do not incur additional penalties while they are going through the appeal process.

4)    d)- Any of the individuals listed, or their designee, can review/decide upon a first-level appeal.

5)    c) – On average, we issue around 25,000 citations annually, nearly half of which are for not having a valid permit displayed. Refer back to the answer to question #2 above – you have to complete both parts of the equation (have a valid permit AND display it properly).

6)     TRUE – Contrary to popular belief, we don’t exist strictly to issue citations. Undeniably, that’s a large component of what we do, but we do it in order to ensure that everyone has a chance to park legally in the limited number of spaces we have available. Everyone is held to the same rules and regulations, which are always available online at

7)     c) – We currently have eleven Level II charging stations across both campuses. At HSC we have two in the Biggy Structure, and at UPC we have two each at PSD, PSB, and the Parking Center, plus three
    more in Lot 2. We also have a quick-charging Level III station in Lot 2, but not all electric vehicles are equipped to use that technology. All our chargers are free to use, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You still need to display a valid permit or daily-use pass to park on campus, of course; special EV permits are also available, which have additional benefits. Please contact us for complete information regarding our EV program.

8) a) – Our website is always the best source for information about USC Transportation’s rules, services, partner programs/offerings, deadlines, prices, bus schedules, and more! You can also download the USC Transportation app for your mobile device, and subscribe to our Twitter feeds and Facebook page for timely information about area street closures, special events, etc.

9) d) – USC is private property, and while we gladly follow Federal ADA requirements regarding making a percentage of parking spaces available for persons with disabilities, in no way does that require us to provide them for free. We’re just like LA Live, Disneyland, or any other private parking entity – the spaces are there, but require a permit or daily pass from USC also. The exception is visitors (NOT faculty, staff or students) parking at meters – they are free to use if the guest displays just a state-issued handicapped placard.

10) b) – Gate attendants are there to help, and they will direct you to the nearest location available. Do NOT simply park somewhere else yourself, or you risk receiving a citation for parking in the wrong area. And never, EVER park in a reserved spot – they are reserved exclusively for the person who bought them, 24 hours a day, 365 days/year. Writing us a long, ranting email is completely up to you.

‘The Positive Light
Is Almost Blinding’

Hi, David,
The warning/waiver is great news.  The questionnaire is a very fun idea and an exceptional policy.  David, you are a visionary.
I deeply appreciate being treated as a team player (and Trojan Family member) who “oopsed” with forgetting to place the permit.   Working very long hours for weeks and being so focused on doing a good job, it was wildly ironic (and extremely frustrating) to be slapped with a fine the night I returned to my car after a 12-hour day. 
I am very grateful for such a reasonable and humorous approach by Enforcement. 
The positive light is almost blinding.

Teresa M. Hudock, Director
Center for Active Learning in International Studies


Article contributed by:
David Donovan
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