More people, less space

Tammie Tamara

Tammie TamaraSection Editor

“I am not going to drive on this campus,” vows senior English and German major Erika Noble. “I’m going to ride my bike ’til it snows, and then I’m going to walk.”

She knows the hassles of driving from last year when she had a student parking pass and lived in Waneta. This year, she lives a block from Sixth Street?close enough to walk to campus while simply parking at home.

Though classes have only begun, freshman pharmacy major Duane Olson has felt frustration at parking.

“I came home from an Incubus concert and had to drive around for half an hour to find a spot,” he said. “It took me longer to find a parking spot than it would take to drive back to Sioux Falls.”

While obviously late-night parking is a challenge, Olson has noticed that at other times, the parking situation is more friendly.

“The weekend is awesome because nobody is around. Then I get the good spots,” he said.

Freshman Lindsay Hall decided to splurge and get the reserved parking pass. But she still has problems.

“There’s been a lot of people parking in it already,” she said. “It takes 12 hours to get them towed, so where do you park in the meantime?”

Obviously, parking continues to be an issue at SDSU, especially considering that 400 more people live on campus this year.

Betty Behrens, University Police Department program assistant, said there are 6,174 parking spaces in all.

These are broken down into various types of spots, including dean, faculty and employee, handicap, motorcycle, remote, student, student commuter, married and reserved. No decals are sold for all class lots.

So far this year, 6,183 parking decals have been sold. However, that does not take into account the number that have been refunded.

“We’ve actually sold 6,183, but approximately 6,000 are out there,” Behrens said. Though parking is an issue, she is certain the number of spots is sufficient.

“It just goes to show that unless you have all 1,998 student commuters on campus at the same time as everybody else, there are parking spots available,” she said. “Maybe not where they want, but they’re available.”

Behrens controls the ordering of parking decals each year.

“I take into consideration the previous year’s sales and the number of parking spots,” she said. “We have never sold out of the all the decals I’ve ordered.”

UPD’s Sgt. Michael Kilber has noticed an increase in parking problems this year.

“There definitely seems to be more congestion this year than in years past,” he said. “It doesn’t seem to be limited to just the residence hall areas.

Even the student commuter lots seem to be congested. It seems obvious that there are more people than there are spaces to park.”

However, he hasn’t noticed an increase in parking tickets he’s had to write.

Kilber said he writes tickets for three reasons. A third of the tickets are written because someone parked in a spot for convenience rather than following the rules. Another third get tickets for misunderstanding signs or lot specifications. A third park illegally because of lack of space.

“This time of year, convenience parking seems to rule. We’ll have people that aren’t handicapped park in handicapped,” he said. “Someone just didn’t want to walk.”

As for lack of space, he said the problem is inevitable. “There is not enough spots for people to park, but I don’t think you can go to any university in the Midwest where that’s not the case.”

The UPD’s only job regarding parking is enforcing rules from the Parking and Traffic Committee. This committee consists of campus representatives and nine people from the three groups on campus: students, faculty and career service employees.

“We have nothing to do with the number of spaces or how many decals are sold,” he said. “The UPD’s roll in parking is only to enforce the rules the committee sets up.”

Even the money brought in from parking or speeding tickets goes to the committee to be distributed throughout campus.

Sue Miskimins, a personnel assistant in the Payroll Office, is the appeals chairman of the Parking and Traffic Committee. The committee has not yet met this school year.

The committee, she said, also lacks real authority to deal with parking problems. “We really don’t have the authority to say, build another lot.”

That would require Board of Regent approval.

Increased numbers of students do warrant consideration from the committee, she said. “I do think that could be an issue.”

Student commuters are her biggest concern. “It’s the off-campus numbers that is going to affect the number of people driving to school,” she said.

The cramped parking conditions and lack of close spots have made up the minds of many students not to deal with parking at all: they simply walk to class.