Due to unforeseen increases in construction costs, the opening of the Engineering Parking Structure, a structure important to relieving the problem of student parking, has been postponed from Sept. 30, 2004 to Dec. 20, 2005. As a result, Parking and Transportation Services has been finding alternative methods to relieve the parking situation.
‘The reason for the delay was … steel and concrete prices which went up and ran the total cost over by $2 million,’ explained Dina Ochoa, parking operations manager.
There are a total of 13,844 parking stalls on campus available to commuters. As of Sept. 29, PTS has sold 13,000 commuter permits.
Once the engineering structure opens, it will offer approximately 2000 more parking stalls to student commuters.
In December this year, the area where Irvine Meadow West used to be will become parking Lot 16H in order to accommodate parking needs.
In the meantime, PTS has implemented numerous plans to mitigate the parking situation for the beginning of the school year.
During the summer, PTS added approximately 170 more stalls in existing parking lots. This maximizes the use of space in these lots while staying within safety regulations.
UCI Parking has also employed a stack parking system in Parking Lot 16 and 5.
In addition, PTS covers the students’ fare if they choose to ride on OCTA buses. In order to utilize this free service, student must go to UCItems to have their student ID validated.
Interim director of PTS Stacey Murren said, ‘For the first two weeks of class, we advise students to come 25 minutes prior to the beginning of their classes.’
Besides the changes in parking areas, students may also notice some changes in permit and citation regulations.
Parking permit prices have remained the same this year for commuters but has increased for on-campus residents. The parking permit for students living in one of the four residential housing complexes has increased because students who live on campus always utilize their parking spaces. PTS feels that since on-campus students occupy the stalls for a longer period of time, it is only fair that they pay more than the commuters who do not park their cars overnight.
‘They [residents] consume more of the parking spaces for longer periods of time,’ Murren explains.
University Town Center residents can no longer purchase UCI commuter permits. They have been told that they live too close to campus and should do their part to relieve congestion by walking, biking or taking the shuttle to class.
‘They are discouraged from buying permits as commuters because they live so close,’ explained Ron Fleming, division manager of PTS. ‘We made it so that commuter students don’t feel a larger impact.’
The penalty for parking citations has increased this year because PTS wants to ensure that the system is fair to all students. PTS states that if people violate the rules, they are hurting other students by decreasing the amount of revenue that goes to support parking improvement.
Murren explains that the citation increase is ‘to protect the interest of all students.’
Even with the increase in citation fees, the UCI citation and permit rates still remain the lowest among the UC campuses.
The biggest complaint from students is that they cannot find parking spots in the areas they need.
Jessica Hakim, a fourth-year English major, said, ‘There’s never any parking during the day. I have to leave 30 minutes early and I live only 10 minutes away.’