Sept. 3, 2012
Relatively easy access, reduced waiting time and all for free. What college student on a tight schedule and budget wouldn’t want to park in a place like that? Just one problem, though – these preferred parking spots are in the middle of a residential area.
The topic of parking at UCCS often leads to fervent discussions and is debated by both freshmen and upperclassmen of all ages and backgrounds.
Even some faculty and staff members, whose parking passes cost more than the permits available for students, park in the neighborhoods instead of on the main campus.
To alleviate the conflict between the residents living near campus and the people who park on residential streets, Brad Bayer, executive director of Student Life and Leadership; Homer Wesley, vice chancellor for Student Success and Enrollment Management; and Jim Spice, director of Public Safety, are sponsoring a program called Good Neighbors.
Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak supported Good Neighbors in a press release Aug. 24, requesting that students park in Four Diamonds and that “those who park on city streets should park at least [five] feet from the edges of residential driveways, mail boxes, fire hydrants, and crosswalks, park on the right side of the street within 12 inches of the curb, observe no parking and handicap parking zones, [and] not park on private property.”
The reasons given for why students decide to park in the neighborhoods across Austin Bluffs Boulevard vary but have some common themes.
“I parked at Danville Park and would then hop on my bike to get to class,” said Andrew Ibarra, a business major who transferred to UCCS this last spring from University of Northern Colorado.
“Parking passes were already sold out by the time I was enrolled, so that’s why I started parking in the neighborhoods across campus,” Ibarra said.
“I live on the east side of UCCS, so it felt like a waste of time to pass UCCS in order to park in Four Diamonds and then shuttle back up.” Ibarra said that he saves 30 minutes a day between the roundtrip commute and not having to wait for the shuttle.
Christy Asay, a junior double majoring in chemistry and biology, expressed similar concerns. “Now the shuttle service is even worse with [the] influx of new freshmen,” Asay said.
“There are huge lines just to get on the shuttle, and I really don’t have the time to wait 30 minutes to an hour to get a ride to my car. I would much rather just walk a bit.”
Likewise, Aaron Feltenberger, a junior biology major emphasizing in pre-dentistry, said that he has parked in the neighborhoods for the past year and a half. “[It] is much closer to school, I enjoy the walk and [I] can usually find a parking spot quickly.”
In years past, students with financial hardships who were unable to purchase HUB permits or who simply preferred to park off campus would leave their vehicles in the Cragmor Christian Reformed Church’s lot.
Yet, in December 2010, the church notified UCCS administrators that they could no longer allow UCCS students to use their facilities due to liability concerns.
The church parking lot contained about 200 spaces, and the change in policy and UCCS Public Safety’s attempts to redirect students to the Four Diamonds lots just west of the main campus resulted in the majority of those students parking on the streets around the church, creating more tension between residents and students.
Adam Garvert, the father of young children in a nearby neighborhood, understands the students’ situation and perspective because he attended college himself not long ago.
Still, the cars often parked in front of his home prevent him from using his work trailer, he said. He has tried to communicate this through posting orange signs on the trees in his front yard, but his requests are generally ignored.
One of the neighborhood’s residents, who asked to remain anonymous, said that she has difficulty backing out of her driveway and retrieving mail due to at least four cars parked between her house and her next-door neighbor.
She also recounted the time two years ago when her husband was ill and a pickup truck parked outside their home blocked their driveway.
“We couldn’t have gotten out if we had needed to,” she said. Still, she expressed hope for a better relationship in the future between the university and the residential community.
Parties hosted many nights during the week by college students renting houses in the area, as well as trespassing violations and littering, only hinder the situation, residents say.
“University students, staff and faculty have always parked in the neighborhood across the street; it has only really become an issue in the past year or two,” said UCCS Chief of Police Jim Spice. “That is when we really started seeing a lot of the complaints.”
Spice pointed out other issues in the residential area. “City parking laws are being violated over there, like parking within five feet of a fire hydrant [or] parking within 30 feet of an intersection,” which will result not only in tickets from campus police but in city tickets too, he said.
Spice also seeks to remind students that the new parking lot in Four Diamonds, Lot 15, has 440 free spaces.
“We do have a security presence down there [at Four Diamonds],” Spice said, including emergency phones, snow removal, adequate lighting and security personnel during the times that shuttles are being operated.
Other options are also available for students who want to park on campus but cannot afford one of the HUB permits. Public Safety offers N permits for use after 4:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Fridays, as well as a Friday-only permit at a reduced price.
“[It] looks like we oversell [permits] because in the first three weeks of classes, so many people are parked in the HUB without a permit, and so they are taking up the spaces of the people who buy a permit, and the only way that we get them to stop is to keep writing them tickets,” Spice said.
“Again, we can’t stop people from parking on a public street, but we ask [them] to park at Four Diamonds,” he said. “If for whatever reason that doesn’t work for you, park legally if you have to park in the neighborhood, and don’t trespass [and] walk through people’s yards, don’t litter and throw things down on the ground.
“We’ve very much taken ownership of this and [are] trying really, really hard to address neighborhood concerns and do what we can to instill in the students and faculty the responsibility that they have of being a good neighbor.”