As of September 23, annual and quarterly parking permits for Cal Poly students have sold out and are not available to purchase, according to the University Police Department (UPD). With a high influx of students on campus and a major parking lot completely under construction, parking permits have sold out at an unusually rapid rate. Now, students with cars who missed out on the limited number of permits are left wondering what to do.
“It’s a combination of both losing parking to construction projects and more students coming here each year,” UPD Chief George Hughes said. “And more people are wanting to bring vehicles than before.”
On September 15, Cal Poly closed the G1 parking lot with 484 parking spots to begin the Student Housing South construction process. The project, due to be completed in July 2018, is intended to create additional on-campus housing and parking spots for students.
With the G1 lot under construction, the UPD opened a new K1 lot to provide 431 parking spots behind the red bricks. Between the opening and closing of parking lots, only 53 total general parking spots were lost. Though the loss of spots is not a dire hit, the inconvenience of the new lot’s location compared to the old parking lot’s close proximity to central buildings is a concern.
“We know parking is a challenge,” Hughes said. “We know the change in parking lots closing and opening has created some frustration and anxiety, so we want to limit the problems for people finding parking on campus.”
With 3,300 general parking permits sold by the third day of classes and only 2,775 general parking spots in total, UPD decided to stop selling long-term parking passes to ensure parking for those who already purchased permits. Overselling is a common practice in parking management. All 3,300 people with parking passes won’t all be on campus at the same time; overselling is a way to maximize the use of available spots.
“Last year before we lost the G1 lot, all year long we only sold 300 more permits than we sold this year,” Hughes said.
While general long-term permits are sold out, a limited number of residential annual permits are still available for students living on campus through a waitlist. With the closing of the G1 lot, UPD had to limit residential parking to make room for additional general parking and to accommodate special events. A waitlist process was instituted for any on-campus residents needing a parking pass.
Though most students who applied for residential parking passes have received them by now, a few are still waiting. Some students on the waitlist who were awarded a residential parking pass have still not physically paid for or picked up their passes. Once these issues are resolved, UPD will distribute the remaining passes among those on the waiting list.
Though quarterly and annual general permits are sold out, students can still purchase motorcycle and evening permits (valid after 5 p.m.). For the majority of students who commute to campus during the day in a car — hourly, daily and weekly general passes are alternative options to the sold out long-term passes.
Hourly passes are sold for $2, $3 and $4 for one, two and three hours respectively. Depending on how many classes a student takes and how much time they need to spend on campus, these hourly passes can add up quickly. Daily general passes are $5, and weekly general passes are $15.
General hourly, daily and weekly passes are unlimitedly available to students.
Though general quarterly and annual passes are the cheapest option, weekly passes add up to only be $50 more per quarter. This may not be a life-altering price difference for many, but there is also an issue of convenience.
Instead of having a sticker at all times to avoid parking tickets, students must physically go to a pay station at the beginning of every week to purchase a weekly permit. Failing to do so will expose them to risk of a parking ticket.
“We don’t want to get to a point that we can’t provide parking for people on campus,” Hughes said. “We are going to continue observing parking habits and parking counts, and we will reassess opening annual and quarterly passes up if we need to.”
Until then, students can continue to purchase short-term parking passes. Students might also consider choosing to carpool, bus, bike or walk to school to steer clear of parking issues, save money and reduce their carbon footprints, Hughes said