Pimping students with parking meters


Parking meters right outside City Hall Photo credit: Grayson Boyer

Chico State students are the economic heartbeat of the city of Chico, yet are politically disconnected and essentially powerless. Until students find a way to harness their political potential, the city government will see students only for their economic value: quarters in a parking meter, cash flow to local businesses or the monthly rent.

As the Chico ER reports, the city brought in $1,013,202 from paid parking and $653,802 from parking meter fines, which makes over $1.5 million in revenue from parking meters alone.

It is no secret that traffic officers prowl the streets around campus during class, hunting for violations and leaving tickets for students.


That’s $1.5 million of value that’s brought in from just parking meters, most of which are downtown, specifically to catch students on school days. Now add in the value students bring when they spend money at bars, pay their rent or buy from local businesses.

City governments push policies that grab money from students, milking them for all their economic worth. Students are essentially pimped out for the money they bring to the city, and for whatever reason, the student population has yet to realize their value to Chico.

Student economic power is hugely disproportionate to student voting power. The 2014 U.S. Census shows that only 45 percent of the college age population votes. Chico State’s fall 2016 statistics claim there are 17,577 students, which means only about 7,910 students are voting, and far fewer are registered to vote in Chico.


That’s the current paradigm; students are a massive economic boon to Chico but have historically low voter turn-out rates and are politically ununified and unorganized. Now imagine if that was all flipped on its head.

What if students realized their economic worth to Chico and unified to stop city government economic abuse? There could be an organized boycott to parking in metered spaces for a week in protest of overactive traffic police, lowering ticket rates to a more reasonable rate.

What if students organized and collectively registered to vote in Chico? The U.S. Census estimates Chico’s population to be 91,567 people, and the United States Election Project estimates only 55.5 percent of the population votes, leaving approximately 50,820 voters in Chico. 17,577 of those voters could be unified Chico State students, creating an insanely powerful group that could dominate any election.

Why do students sit on their hands and squander their political potential? Chico is a college town, it survives by the economic power the college brings. Students may not be politically homogenous but they have similar goals and problems that could be solved by unifying.

As the Orion reported last year, 41 percent of Chico State’s population is suffering from food insecurity, yet students are letting the city government suck them dry with parking tickets and other predatory economic policies.

It’s time to choose: organize and unite against your common problems or continue to be picked apart.

Grayson Boyer can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news