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The golden parking pass!
October 10, 2011 1:47 PM   Subscribe

An esteemed UC Berkeley tradition is to award Nobel prize winners free parking. Every Nobel prize winner who works at the UC Berkeley campus is awarded the "Nobel Laureate Parking Permit," that allows the holder free parking on campus; a precious and scarce thing, not unlike the Nobel Prize.

Saul Perlmutter, the 2011 Nobel Prize winner in Physics (along with Adam Reiss and Brian P. Schmidt) is also a UC Berkeley physics prof. The newly minted laureate commented dryly at his parking permit ceremony that it is the “only reason to win a Nobel Prize.”
posted by honey badger (37 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
They have so many Nobel prize winners and so little parking, that this perk may have to be reconsidered... years...
posted by honey badger at 1:48 PM on October 10, 2011


Which prize is better we wonder?
A functioning public transport system for all!
posted by Abiezer at 1:56 PM on October 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


One of my housemates attends UC Berkeley and his initials are NL. He keeps saying he should park in these spots and say he thought they were for him.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:59 PM on October 10, 2011


I told my spouse about these parking spaces a couple days ago (I had toured Berkeley when I was in high school while he had only toured UC Davis). He noted that, considering the cost of student, faculty, and staff permits, they should probably start charging Nobel Laureates half a million dollars for the privilege.
posted by muddgirl at 2:01 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


"It's a temporary permit," Smoot explained. "You've got to renew it every year — like your Nobel laureate's going to go away, or something!"

Ahh, even a Nobel Prize can't save you from bureaucracy.
posted by demiurge at 2:02 PM on October 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


The newly minted laureate commented dryly at his parking permit ceremony that it is the “only reason to win a Nobel Prize.”

Can I have the million bucks then, mister smartypants?
posted by dersins at 2:03 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do they count econ? Peace?
posted by a robot made out of meat at 2:04 PM on October 10, 2011


How much of the prestige of the Nobel prize is based on the false cognate Nobel/Noble?
posted by telstar at 2:04 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's far more deluxe than what the University of Chicago offers its Nobel Prize winners in economics: free lunch at the Business School cafeteria.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:06 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do they count econ? Peace?

Econ spaces are restricted to the invisible hand of availability. Peace prize winners are allowed to double park since they really don't belong curbside.
posted by three blind mice at 2:11 PM on October 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


wish they'd work out a deal with BART so that they could offer lifetime free fare to/from Berkeley, should the laureates prefer that to a parking spot. Of course, that would require BART to be on speaking terms with another government agency...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:13 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll bet they still get ticketed by over-zealous UCPD. Seriously, an urban campus, rife with stabbings, rape, and drug dealing, and I would get tickets leaving my car running in a yellow zone with people in the back seat just running to an ATM for 30 seconds.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:15 PM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Do they get Park Place and four hotels, too?
posted by Violet Hour at 2:18 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


And guaranteed rights to the thimble in the next game?
posted by horsewithnoname at 2:21 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you win an Ig Nobel prize, are you awarded a Parkig Permit?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:37 PM on October 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


When I was an undergrad at Stanford, Bob Laughlin had just recently won the prize. He was supposedly quite jealous of the parking spaces Berkeley profs got-- no such luck at Stanford.
posted by nat at 2:38 PM on October 10, 2011


When I was a student at Berkeley, I always thought it was a little cruel that some of these parking spots were right outside the math building, especially given the three Fields Medalists inside. Why no FM parking?
posted by albrecht at 2:56 PM on October 10, 2011


three Fields Medalists inside. Why no FM parking?
He has won wide recognition, most notably a Fields Medal in 1990, the equivalent in mathematics of a Nobel Prize. ("This equivalence," notes Moore, "is recognized by no less an authority than the UC Berkeley Parking Office, which accords our Fields Medalists the same parking privileges as it does for Nobel laureates.")
posted by Zed at 3:00 PM on October 10, 2011 [21 favorites]


Wow, good to know!
posted by albrecht at 3:02 PM on October 10, 2011


So this is where that Monopoly "house rule" comes from -- the Free Parking with all the money!
posted by dhartung at 3:23 PM on October 10, 2011


I hope the Laureates know that this arrangement is a taxable fringe benefit.
posted by arveale at 3:26 PM on October 10, 2011


I forgot to mention that faculty parking runs $1500/yr. And I wish there were a public transportation/BART/AC Transit version of the free parking.
posted by honey badger at 3:30 PM on October 10, 2011


I was biking through the UC Berkeley campus last night on my way to a concert and started cracking up when I saw a metal sign that read, parking space reserved for Nobel Laureates only. wow.
posted by nikoniko at 3:44 PM on October 10, 2011


The lengths some people will go to just to avoid riding a bike to work are astonishing.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:35 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I was a post-doc at a UC campus, a yearly parking permit was the 3rd most expensive single thing that I owned (after car and motorcycle). And I had to get to work early in order to use it.
posted by 445supermag at 4:37 PM on October 10, 2011


When I was a student at Berkeley, I always thought it was a little cruel that some of these parking spots were right outside the math building, especially given the three Fields Medalists inside. Why no FM parking?

I am in that building right now. There's a rumor that somewhere in this building there is an economics department.

(I walked to work today. I don't even own a bike.)
posted by madcaptenor at 4:38 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Fields Medal comes with a prize of $15,000 Canadian (at right-now exchange rates, $14,590 American). So that means that ten years of parking is worth as much as the actual prize.
posted by madcaptenor at 4:41 PM on October 10, 2011


The lengths some people will go to just to avoid riding a bike to work are astonishing.

Have you priced real estate in Berkeley?
posted by GuyZero at 4:50 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Awaiting the day an economist wins a Nobel Prize by doing research on the negative economic benefits of free parking...
posted by madajb at 5:56 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


demiurge quotes "'It's a temporary permit,' Smoot explained. 'You've got to renew it every year — like your Nobel laureate's going to go away, or something!'"

No, but you could lose the permit. It's a lot easier to have the life time parking permits expire than for every ticket writer to have to be aware of lost/stolen/faked non expiring permits. And every time the parking system changes you don't have to handle a bunch of special cases.
posted by Mitheral at 7:25 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Having gone a different way through the Berkeley campus I just noticed one parking area with the 'NL' signs. And a crappy old Volvo wagon parked there, which charmed me no end.
posted by jet_silver at 7:39 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I forgot to mention that faculty parking runs $1500/yr.

I guess this is neither here nor there, but I feel compelled to mention that the parking permit fees are deducted pre-tax from monthly pay. At least they were for staff (I last had a staff permit in 2007, when the rates had just gone from $85 to $90 per month, if I recall correctly). The pre-tax thing makes a big difference in what you actually pay. But yeah, you still need to get there early for the lot you want. And a free, designated spot would be so amazing.
posted by JenMarie at 7:50 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do they get Park Place and four hotels, too?

If they did, there's a good chance that the money comes out of a community chest paid out of a luxury tax. There's some detail out here, but wouldn't want to monopolize the discussion.
posted by the cydonian at 8:36 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


demiurge: "Ahh, even a Nobel Prize can't save you from bureaucracy."

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em...

"The Academy is proud to bestow the 2011 Nobel Price in Bureaucracy upon Dr. William K. Lumbergh, in recognition of his research: Emergent Memodynamic Phenomena Resulting From the Introduction of a 'Sheet' Membrane on Product Development Metaworkflow Artifacts. Thanks to this groundbreaking work, science is now poised to finally put an end to the scourge of un-covered Testing Specifications.

So without further ado, I'm... yeah, I'm gonna have to go ahead and ask you to come receive this award.

Among the benefits of this award, is free and open parking anywhere within the Milton Waddams Memorial Professional Park*.

* With the obvious exception of legally-marked spaces for persons with disabilities. Fortunately, you won't have any need of those spots unless someone happened to take the last parking spot before you, but what are the odds of that?"
posted by Riki tiki at 9:03 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pfah, Harvard would never lower itself to this. You don't get a $32 billion endowment by giving free parking to hippie freeloader Nobel physicists!
posted by rednikki at 10:21 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's far more deluxe than what the University of Chicago offers its Nobel Prize winners in economics: free lunch at the Business School cafeteria.

There is no Nobel Prize in Economics.
posted by atrazine at 1:08 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do they count econ? Peace?

Nah. Only the hard ones.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:02 AM on October 11, 2011


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