The Parking Ins and Outs of UCI Structures

Diane Oh | Staff Photographer

As the new academic year begins, many students will find themselves trapped within the mad rush of parking, struggling to find a single open spot alongside dozens of other students and hoping that they might get lucky 10 minutes before class starts. Many students will park in the wrong spot at the wrong time, only to be rewarded with a yellow envelope slipped underneath the wiper. Worse yet, some might take too many chances and end up with the friendly neighborhood tow company.

Avoiding most of the everyday parking woes is simple, but requires some attention to the rules of parking at UCI. These rules are not particularly complex, but there are some tricks that students should watch out for throughout their parking lot battles.

Zoned parking: While most students will likely find a great deal of fault with the system, on the whole, zoned parking makes a lot of sense. Because of the volume of students coming in during the morning and early afternoon hours, parking structures, like the Student Center Parking Structure, get filled up quickly. Those students who have tried to find parking in the SCPS around lunchtime know how this can be.

More importantly, for many first-time commuters, the other parking structures around campus may not be the first choice. The SCPS is certainly close to the “front” of the school, being next to the Student Center and Aldrich Hall. But for an engineering major looking to get to class on time, parking in the Anteater Parking Structure is far more efficient. By filtering each of these parking areas into zones, parking at UCI can be seen as major-based: Humanities is in Zone 1, Medicine in Zone 2, Physical Sciences in Zone 3, Information and Computer Science in Zone 4 and Social Sciences in Zone 5. Students who buy permits early, and according to what parking zone best fits their class schedules, will be rewarded with a commute that does not include long periods of time spent hunting down the lone parking spot left on campus.

The second issue is more of a trick to the system. While the zone parking system is effective in combating the rush between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., after 3:00 p.m., there isn’t much need to “filter” due to the decrease in traffic at school. As of such, after 3:00 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays, and all day Saturday and Sunday, permit holders are free to park in any zone. However, Staff and AR Reserved lots, such as Lot 12 next to MSTB, are only open after 5:00 p.m., and often become restricted again at midnight. So you might make it to your 4:00 p.m. lecture in PSLH by parking in an unmarked stall in Lot 12, but you’ll still get a ticket.

Know the signs: The easiest way to identify whether you can park in a lot or not is to read the signs that are typically posted in clear view near the entrance of any parking lot – green squares with an ‘S’ emblazoned in the center are for student parking, while brown squares are for residents. Check the fine print though, as sometimes student or residential parking is only allowed during a certain time period. AR and Staff reserved lots are labeled in red and the parking stalls often have “AR RESERVED” painted on top of them. Even if it’s an unmarked stall, if the lot is AR RESERVED, the stall is still considered AR RESERVED. 24-hour reserved stalls, typically marked with a sign, will always result in a ticket regardless of the time if an improper permit is displayed. Taking a minute to read a sign can save a lot of time and money.

The system might seem complex, but it is simple once you break it down: pick a zone that best fits your class schedule. Wander from zone to zone only after 3:00 p.m. Park almost everywhere after 5:00 p.m. You should have very few problems with parking on campus so long as you take the time to plan out your parking. There is simply no reason at all to suffer the fate of driving around in circles on the top floor of a parking structure hoping to get lucky.

Information regarding parking at UCI can be found at,,