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State Audit Misrepresents CSUF Practices and Mischaracterizes Role of Reserve Funds

The Public Policy Institute of California has lauded the CSU for its transparency and efforts to build designated reserves.
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The California State Auditor released a June 20 report on the California State University’s parking program and outside accounts.​​​​​​​ 

The report is generally critical of the system’s practice of creating financial reserves and characterized those reserves as discretionary.  In addition, the report is generally critical of the CSU for not doing enough to encourage use of alternative transportation use by its constituents.

CSU Chancellor Timothy White responded by issuing a statement.  “The California State University is transparent in its financial operations, and detailed information about monies held by the university is readily available for review by Californians and our state’s lawmakers. We have gone to great lengths to publicly report information about investment balances, net assets and reserves.”

The report contained specific reference to Cal State Fullerton, which was one of the four campuses with parking operations that were reviewed by the auditor. 

CSUF President Fram Virjee has also issued a statement, saying: “The audit misrepresents how we work with our students, staff and faculty members to plan for parking needs and provide alternative transportation.  

“We at CSUF take care to provide alternative transportation options for our community, and provide a variety of services — from our Zipcar Carshare program and shuttle services to free bike safety checks and the University Bus Pass — aimed at reducing individual vehicle use. The need for new student parking lots at CSUF has been documented by repeated studies, and the university has been proactive and transparent in its plans to construct a new facility.”

By direction of the State, parking operations on our campus may only be funded by parking fees and fines.  Designated reserves for parking may only be used in relation to parking and transportation.

CSUF is currently constructing a new student parking facility that will provide an additional 1,900 spaces beginning in fall 2020.

“CSUF has responsibly documented the need for additional parking on campus in consultation with students, faculty, and staff.  CSUF has transparently disclosed parking fee increases necessitated to fund operations and maintenance, and provide a means to create new parking,” said [****CSUF SOURCE NEEDED?]

[SOURCE *****) notes that in fiscal year 2014-15, a state budget act transferred responsibility for capital obligations from the State of California to the CSU System.  Therefore, the CSU and its campuses must set aside reserves to provide for those obligations.

Reserves are monies associated with campus operations that are held by the campus for designated purposes, primarily, short-term obligations, capital projects, and ongoing operations.

Parking services on campuses are funded by parking fees and fines. These funds cannot be used to fund other university operations.  Parking fees and fine totals are a small portion of the CSU system’s total reserves. At Cal State Fullerton, the Division of Parking and Transportation Services oversees operations and planning, including parking permits for members of the community.

The unit has for many years been working with students, faculty, staff and neighbors to assess parking needs.  The CSUF Parking Advisory Committee includes three students (each term). The students are chosen by and report to the “Associated Students, Inc.” (ASI) the auxiliary organization and student government of Cal State Fullerton.

CSUF conducted campus-wide studies on parking availability in 2015, and again in January 2019, and documented a need for more student parking. 

In June 2019, CSUF began construction of a new parking structure which will be available to students in fall 2020, and which will contain 1,900 parking spaces.

At CSUF, we encourage community members to explore alternative transportation modes, and to seek ways to reduce traffic and congestion. Every year Cal State Fullerton spends nearly $1 million ($903,601) on alternative transportation incentives. These incentives include: Carpools and vanpools; a shuttle from off-site parking; transit passes, and walking/biking incentives; among others.