An ongoing conflict between graduate students in the Palo Verde housing complex and faculty and staff members in the adjacent University Hills community has tested the patience of both parties.
The conflict started when the University Hills Homeowners Association filed a complaint saying that headlights from Palo Verde drivers hit the house of a faculty member who resides in University Hills.
Despite offers from the Office of Student Affairs, Palo Verde Residents Council and Associated Graduate Students to buy and plant trees to block the light, and offers from the Palo Verde Residents Council to buy drapes for the affected faculty member, the decision was made to prohibit cars from leaving the Palo Verde complex on the side facing University Hills in order to avoid headlight disturbances.
Palo Verde residents allege that the action taken to address the inconvenience felt by University Hills residents has created a daily hassle for students who must maneuver around the complex to simply get in or out of it.
Andreas Gal, a member of the Palo Verde Residents Council, said that the nuisance presented by the headlights has now just been shifted onto Palo Verde residents.
‘All those concerns of course apply to us as well,’ Gal said. ‘We are much closer, actually, than University Hills to the parking structure, and our building is actually much higher as well. So if there’s any problem with headlights or glare or whatever, it equally or even more affects us.’
Palo Verde residents say that UC Irvine’s continued growth in recent years has led to a situation in which both faculty and students must adjust to some inconveniences-in this case, headlights.
‘We’re going to be an urban campus, not a rural campus, and the faculty needs to realize that,’ said Brett Goldsmith, the president of the Associated Graduate Students.
Students also claim that changes to the Palo Verde parking lot have more serious negative effects. During a recent medical emergency in the complex, a fire truck was forced to drive a longer distance in order to enter the parking structure because barricades prevented it from turning into the lot.
‘I think this really shows that there is very little regard or respect for our safety, let alone our convenience here in Palo Verde,’ Gal said.
Another safety concern that was brought up by students is that after entering from East Peltason Drive, residents must exit the complex by driving past a playground, possibly putting children at risk.
Nivedan Tiwari, a first-year graduate student in mechanical and aerospace engineering, said that he and his wife have seen people break the law and exit through the entrance-only lane onto the street.
‘I have actually almost crashed into one car,’ Tiwari said.
Candice Carr Kelman, a second-year graduate student in planning, policy and design, offered an alternate solution.
‘I think that Irvine is just obsessed with parking because it’s such a car culture,’ Kelman said. ‘I think they should actually focus more on public transit. They should have it so it cuts down on cars.’
Gal sympathizes with the faculty member who is pestered by the lights, but feels that the ensuing actions were excessive.
‘Quite frankly, I can see their position,’ Gal said. ‘But my impression is that they are really being unreasonable.’
The Palo Verde Residents Council has written letters and sent e-mails to Chancellor Michael Drake and UC President Robert Dynes, among others.
Administrators have not yet issued a formal response to the student complaints.