Parking services and courtesy must complement expansion, not threaten

Sept. 2, 2013

Staff Editorial
scribe@uccs.edu

More students, more faculty, more buildings – more parking woes. Welcome to UCCS.

The Scribe has published articles about parking almost every semester critiquing the lack of parking and highlighting whether the parking system in place by the college is sufficient for the demand.

This year, UCCS has expanded again. The estimated 10,500 enrolled students make it the largest student body ever.

That increase, up from 9,798 last fall, is fueled by 1,600 incoming freshmen and has had a noticeable impact on foot and car traffic on campus.

And so, the issue of parking arises again.

UCCS remains a commuter school. Only 13 percent of the undergraduate student population lives on campus, according to collegesearch.com. That puts UCCS at the average that the school itself reports: Nationwide, commuter students make up 87 percent of the student population.

The school needs enough parking to accommodate its students, whether on campus or on lots near the Four Diamonds Sports Complex. Clearly, this is not happening. The parking lot is filled up completely by 8 a.m. most mornings. It only gets worse as the day goes by, and the lot typically only starts to empty after 4 p.m.

UCCS’ response has most often been to hawk the free Four Diamonds lot on North Nevada Avenue. The problem, of course, is that since the permitted lots fill up so quickly, many students simply go straight to Four Diamonds – which then fills up almost as quickly as the main lots.

The administration realizes it’s an issue. “Due to increased demand on this system, students parking at the Four Diamonds should anticipate arriving 30 minutes prior to the start of their first class,” they write on the parking website.

In other words, at this point, it doesn’t matter whether you park on campus or Four Diamonds: You are still looking at 30-plus minutes either driving around looking for a spot or waiting on a shuttle.

The Lane Center construction near Four Diamonds has only exacerbated that issue (as the Lane Center is also on Nevada Avenue and was constructed where another parking lot stood).

Students that park in the newest Lot 15 literally have to hike to get to a bus stop, then ferry up the hill to even get on campus. Last we checked, the student cost for the Safety and Transportation fee – $70 – has stayed the same, while the time spent getting to classes has been lengthened.

At the same time, prices for on-campus parking permits have gone up by 20 percent for all students, faculty and staff for the first time in the better part of a decade. What a student paid $330 for last year to park for the whole academic year they spent $396 this time. Professors have been hit with prices upwards of $600.

UCCS must resolve this issue. The new 1,227-stall parking garage near the Rec Center slated to open in March 2014 may go toward alleviating some of the parking issues. But if the college does not invest in a more reliable and timely shuttle service, the bottleneck at Four Diamonds will only continue to worsen.

Students will need to be patient as UCCS addresses parking. Perhaps more difficult will be adhering to the new city-implemented parking restrictions, which prohibit students from parking in the nearby Cragmor neighborhood from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday.

The Cragmor neighborhood, conveniently located just south of the campus, has been used for free student parking for years – and often at the expense of its residents.

As reported in our Sept. 3, 2012 issue, residents who have gone so far as to post signs asking students not to park in the streets have largely been ignored.

Cars have blocked driveways, blocking residents from leaving their homes. While the hunt for parking can distract students from thinking about anything other than getting to class on time, they also need to be thoughtful of the impression they leave – both of themselves and of the university.

The parking restrictions, while unpopular with students and an inconvenience for some residents, are the first step toward mending the university’s relationship with those in the immediate neighborhood.