Truck breaks state statutes but not USF standards

As you drive through the main entrance of the campus, to your right is the Campus/Parking Information Center. After crossing Alumni Drive, you pass a billboard for Tan USA and the Library before arriving at the John & Grace Allen Administration Building.

One of those landmarks, however, was not built by the University.

A sign nearly five feet long and four feet tall advertising Tan USA stands on the bed of a red truck in the student parking lot behind the Library. There are cobwebs on the truck and it has a flat tire. It has an expired license plate, but a valid student tag. It has not moved since the owners bought it about a year ago, said Gary Hallock, the co-owner of Tan USA.

The outdated sign reads “Tan USA on Fowler Avenue in the Kash n’ Karry Plaza.” The last Kash n’ Karry store converted to a Sweetbay Supermarket in August 2007, according to an article in the St. Petersburg Times.

Angela Hallock, a student majoring in elementary education and owner of Tan USA, owns the truck. When she and her husband Gary bought the store, she also bought the truck – at its current location.

Angela Hallock said there is nothing wrong with keeping the advertisement on campus.

“It’s my vehicle, it’s my parking permit,” she said. “I don’t see what the big deal is.”

The license plate expired in February 2007 and is still under the name of the previous owner, Travis Shore.

According to Florida Statutes, Title XXIII, Chapter 316, “Every vehicle, at all times while driven, stopped or parked upon any highways, roads or streets of this state, shall be licensed in the name of the owner.”

There is also a delinquent fee for those who do not renew their license plates in a timely manner, according to Florida Statutes.

“I just haven’t changed the license plate yet,” Angela Hallock said.

Mario Lopez, Parking Services director, said the inactive truck hasn’t violated any of Parking Services’ rules.

“We did some research and found the truck to have a valid permit and properly parked,” Lopez said. “From Parking’s perspective, they are not doing anything wrong.”

Parking Services’ process for issuing permits requires the license plate number but not the expiration date, Lopez said. An expired license plate is not a violation of Parking Services’ policy.

In spite of the expired plate, Parking Services issued Hallock a student permit for the 2007-2008 school year.

Parking Services does have the right to tow an unmoved or abandoned car, said Lara Wade, news director of media relations for USF.

Unlike Parking Services’ rules, state law requires vehicle registrations to be current and in the name of the owner. However, University Police (UP) hasn’t ticketed the truck.

“If it was driving, we would pull them over and give them a ticket,” said UP spokeswoman Lt. Meg Ross.

UP spends its time monitoring moving vehicles, she said, not checking license plates in parking lots.

“They (UP) take calls based on order of importance to protect our students,” Wade said. “So what they are concerned about is moving violations (and) crime that happens on campus. So they are not burdening our officers in our systems with citations that can be handled by other officers not on campus.”

Ross said a citation could only be given if the driver is present; it could not be left on the windshield.

Gary Hallock said that if USF wants to create an alternative permit for commercial purposes, he is willing to pay for it.

“(The license plate) was a mistake on our part,” he said.

Scott Liu, mass communications professor, said many people and businesses use vehicles to advertise.

“We do all sort of things to our cars,” he said. “Like stickers that end up promoting something like a product or a cause.”

Students have mixed reactions to the truck.

Tristen Gratz, a senior majoring in history, reacted poorly.

“There is hardly enough parking as there is,” she said.

“It’s just one spot,” said Ryan Timkee, a senior majoring in finance. “I don’t see what the big deal is.”

Additional reporting by Harrison Reed.