Park Wars

Michael Gill

Michael Gill

A long time ago, on a campus much, much smaller, finding a parking space took under 10 minutes. To find a spot amongst the crowd today requires a brave warrior with a trusty vehicle, a lot of time, and a lead foot.

Like gladiators in a coliseum, students circle the parking lots on campus, knowing, “strike fast, strike first.” In the arena, there is nothing left for the weak, except maybe that long walk of defeat: a long walk that leaves a student red-cheeked all day from the cold Canadian front blowing across campus.

This scenario straddles past, future – and present: trying to find a decent parking spot on campus turns the lots into an all-out battlefield with the daily main event usually starting as early as 9 a.m. around Diary Micro and Yeager Hall, then carrying over to the University Student Union lot until noon. While parking always seems to be a problem, overcrowding on campus has increased competition for spots this year.

Last fall the number of parking spots on campus was approximately equal to the number of permits sold. Now the number of permits sold outnumbers spots by 660.

For senior psychology major Josh Kuehler, it didn’t take long to notice the increased nastiness involved in parking. In the first week back on campus after the break Kuehler got struck while sitting in a parking lot trying to leave class.

“This girl just smoked me and then I hit the car in front of me. Next thing we are all out of the cars and one girl has blood on her face and a big star (shatter) on her windshield.”

Kuehler like many others has noticed the increase of students looking for spots this semester.

“It’s dangerous. Its sharks in the water, the way people have to drive around searching for any spot.”

With 6,784 active parking decals out there this semester for 6,124 total spots on campus, there is no room for pleasantries.

Now with winter descending on the larger student body, the university has sold 601 more passes than last semester, 660 more decals than spots available on the entire campus.

According to Mike Whitford, a student representative on the Parking and Traffic Committee, SDSU slways has had the policy of selling to everyone who needs one. The problem coming from overselling certain classes, that he feels is where the university may be wrong.

“The main problem really is that everyone wants to park right by the doors, and that is where the perception of the problem is.”

The Parking and Traffic Committee met this last Wednesday but Whitford said what the committee did accomplish was setting up a proposal for a mass transit system plan to take effect sometime down the road.

In the university’s 50-year plan, available parking for students will be on the exterior of campus. A mass-transit system will be put in place to get students to their classes.

One of the only immediate topics covered is the plan to remove the meter spots in front of Pierson and Brown and turn them into 20 minute parking. Doing so would allow students spots to unload their cars closer to the dorms.

“There aren’t a lot of solutions right now because there is no money to extend the number of parking spots,” Whitford said. “It would be great, but we don’t have the resources.”

To UPD Chief Tim Heaton nothing has really changed in seven years, every semester brings about the complaints.

The UPD is in charge of selling the parking passes but Heaton is quick to point out that they don’t have much to do with alloting the number of spots each class gets. Their primary duty is to enforce what the university has decided.

In doing that job is where Heaton has seen a lot of the students frustration in not being able to find a good spot.

“You may have to walk aways, it sounds unsympathetic but everybody has the same chance. I feel bad that anyone has to make that walk.”

Heaton just hopes that students understand that the UPD is paid to enforce the laws and just because they didn’t get caught once doesn’t mean they won’t eventually. During the day Heaton usually has three to four people out ticketing.

Heaton and Whitford both wish that more students were aware of how they can go about appealing a ticket. Both encourage any student that feels they were legitimately wronged to appeal their tickets.

Besides that neither had any solutions to offer to students stuck fighting in the parking lots before class.

“Getting there early is the main thing, you have to accept the fact that you aren’t always going to get a spot and you will have to walk, ” Heaton said.

The general consensus from most seems to be that with SDSU’s continued growth something will need to be done. Enrollment is projected to increase again and with another large increase of students the percentage of students being able to find a spot will decrease.

With the Jackrabbit Guarantee and the proposed move to D-I, Whitford feels that there is going to have to be a solution outside of the mass transit system in the 50-year plan.

Until then no one seems to have the answers and new lots or a ramp do not appear in the immediate plans. A parking garage or ramp which has been voiced by students will never really be an option. As was discussed in a forum last semester a garage would cost $10,000 per parking space.

Having no funds or plans for next year, students may agree that after surviving this semester the off-season may not be long enough to prepare for the ensuing battle of next year.