GV students contend with new parking enforcement tech at off-campus housing


GVL / Max Ritchie

Emma Armijo, Staff Writer

Off-campus housing complexes surrounding Grand Valley State University are changing their parking policy enforcement, and students are taking notice. In the past, “boots” on car tires and occasionally towed vehicles were used to dissuade and punish those parked at the apartments without the appropriate passes.

This year, however, new technology is being put to use instead. Students in violation of such parking policies are reporting their cars being “barnacled.” The Barnacle is a new alternative to the boot being used to enforce parking policies.

The Barnacle attaches to the windshield of a car using commercial-grade suction cups with over 1,000 pounds of force, according to the company website. The Barnacle blocks the driver’s view, so it must be removed by paying a fine either online or on a mobile device, following instructions on the Barnacle. 

According to a message sent to Campus View Apartments residents on Aug. 27, there is a $62 fee and $100 hold to ensure that the Barnacle device is returned in good condition within 24 hours. If the device is not returned within 24 hours or is damaged, the $100 hold fee is charged. Once the Barnacle is removed, it must be returned to one of its drop-off locations in Allendale.

Absolute Security, a non-GVSU-affiliated security company, is contracted by surrounding apartment complexes to enforce parking and other security concerns. Absolute Security is the company that has introduced the Barnacle system and phased out the older technology. 

An Absolute Security Representative, said using Barnacles removes the need for having a guard come and physically remove a boot from a vehicle, and are more convenient for everyone involved.

“It can be removed quickly and there isn’t a face to face contact due to the pandemic,” the representative said. “It just makes things a lot more convenient and easier for the people that are getting the parking violations.”

Campus View Apartments and Townhomes is one of the complexes that use Absolute Security’s services, and have since switched to using Barnacles for parking violations. Campus View Office manager at Jenny Hall said that Campus View doesn’t have any say as to the method of dealing with parking violations because enforcement is handled by Absolute Security. Hall said Campus View requires guests to have parking passes on their vehicles during the weekday service hours and that many students also get parking violations for parking in the wrong areas.

“We’ll have people who are parked in the grass or not in a parking spot, (and) they are in violation as well,” Hall said. “If you have a friend stopping over for a short amount of time, you’re usually able to just throw hazards on if it’s going to be less than 10 minutes, and (Absolute Security) will not do anything.”

Campus West is another off-campus housing complex that contracts services through Absolute Security. Leasing agent Breana Orman said the most common way that people can get parking violations at Campus West is not having parking passes or parking in the wrong area.

“If they have their regular tenant pass that needs to be in the window visible,” Orman said. “So that’s the most common violation, just like vehicles parking here without having the correct pass.”

GVSU student Sarah Corder recently found a Barnacle on her car despite having a parking pass. Corder is a third-year resident at Campus West Apartments who was given a parking violation because even though her parking pass was inside of her vehicle it wasn’t visible from the outside. Corder said she was charged $162 to remove the Barnacle, but not the $100 since it was returned within 24 hours.

“I tried to work with them to get the charge removed since I had a pass, but the Barnacle company and the Campus West office weren’t any help, and Absolute Security sent me a not-great photo ‘proving’ that my pass wasn’t visible,” Corder said.

The best way for GVSU students to avoid getting fined for parking violations and barnacles getting put on their cars is to make sure to leave parking passes fully visible and to park in the designated locations. If there is any confusion about what is considered a parking violation, communicating with complex management is the best way to avoid getting fined.