This fall, the University Police Department won’t offer much new relief for students looking to park on campus.
“The situation this year is good and bad; good in that the same spaces will be available as when students left, but there won’t be any big improvements awaiting them,” said UPD Associate Director Cindy Campbell.
Improvements to parking aren’t always as immediate as one might hope. Between April 2005 and August 2006, the university introduced 26 general parking spaces around campus.
“(On-campus parking) will improve, just not immediately. Unfortunately, there’s still going to be pedestrian congestion, traffic and construction to deal with,” Campbell said.
So where are all the major improvements? Campbell explained that it’s hard to expand and make vast changes when so much of Cal Poly’s land is primarily reserved for agricultural purposes.
“Because of that, we’re more concerned with offering a balance with parking and alternative transportation,” she said.
Projects such as Poly Canyon Village, the new student housing project, will add 1,800 residential spaces. Campbell hopes the new lots will have a trickle-down effect that will open up more spots in the general parking lots. However, the first phase of the Poly Canyon Village project will not be completed until 2008. This is where both Campbell and the university’s “master plan” point to the balancer: alternative transportation.
The UPD suggests biking, walking, using the subsidized buses that any Cal Poly student with an ID card can ride for free and carpooling whenever possible instead of bringing a car to school.
“A lot of students don’t consider these alternatives at home. We have lots of clean and ample transportation here.whereas having a car is expensive and inconvenient,” Campbell said.
This year’s parking permit prices won’t skyrocket, but they also won’t be going down. Residential permit costs rose from $105 per quarter to $120, weekly permits from $12 per week to $15 and general permits from $85 per quarter to $90 per quarter. No increases were made to ticket costs and it still costs $15 for an expired meter. The general and resident permit prices will continue to rise through 2010.
All fees go toward helping build more parking structures or paying for alternative transportation, such as the bus system, Campbell said. “Students would be surprised to know that a single parking space costs about $15,000.and that’s considered inexpensive,” she added.
Students who still plan to empty their wallets and park in the general parking lots are advised to come at least an hour before class. Campbell suggested using the new H1 parking lot near the crops unit because “students will avoid both vehicle and pedestrian traffic.”
Students like aerospace engineering junior Sam Santos, however, find lots like H1 and the alternative transportation options inconvenient.
“Thankfully, there’s a bus stop right outside my house, but since the buses don’t pick people up at night, I have to walk home every night.and I’m not going to park over with the cows and pay a ton of money,” he said.
Freshmen have always been encouraged not to bring cars to help make the main general parking lot, G1, larger. The selection process alone stops many freshmen from bringing cars.
Computer engineering freshman John Osumi has no plans of bringing a car simply because of the strict process.
“It (the process) only allows freshmen to bring a car if they have a priority need, such as medical, disability, military or employment; all of which I don’t qualify for,” he said.
The UPD has also been developing an online payment system where, eventually, all students and faculty will be able to buy permits online instead of waiting in long lines. The online software was tested both last year and this year with on-campus residents. It will be available to all “sooner than later,” Campbell said.