Lot 1, a parking lot in Zone 5 adjacent to Aldrich Hall, was permanently closed to students yesterday in order to “accommodate the increasing numbers of faculty and staff” in need of reserved parking, according to a spokesperson for UCI Transportation and Distribution Services.
Julianna Bayley, strategic communications manager for UCI TDS, said that the lot is being reserved for faculty and staff since “student enrollment and staffing has increased on campus this fiscal year” and faculty are in need of guaranteed parking. She adds that a “large number of on-campus events combined with vehicular traffic from students accessing Lot 1 during peak pedestrian-crossing times has resulted in increased traffic congestion on Pereira Road and has led to serious pedestrian safety concerns.”
UCI is planning to construct a building over Lot 1 in the near future, which will eventually necessitate its closure altogether, according to administrators. In the meantime, TDS encourages students with Zone 5 permits to utilize Lot 36, the ARC, the Social Science Parking Structure and the white stalls in the East Campus Parking Structure.
Several students took their frustrations about the closure to Facebook and UCI’s subreddit, many complaining online that TDS gave students only six days’ notice of the closure and implemented the change mid-quarter, after most students had already purchased parking permits.
“This is ridiculous, especially on such short notice. What are we supposed to do?” one commenter wrote on UCI’s subreddit. “There simply isn’t enough parking.”
Another student wrote, “I already bought my Zone 5 permit until June…The SSPS is crowded enough already, and giving us less than a week’s notice makes it even worse.”
However, Bayley claims that even after the Lot 1 closure, Zone 5 permit holders will still have sufficient parking options. Recent parking utilization studies, she said, indicate that the nearby Social Science Parking Structure has a “large number of unused [reserved] stalls on a regular basis. In fact, during this past week, the reserved stalls in the basement of SSPS were largely unoccupied.”
Still, TDS will “closely monitor” the use of SSPS preferred stalls in the coming weeks and plans to “enact mitigating measures, including increasing the number of AR stalls, should utilization indicate its necessity,” Bayley said. Although this could decrease the number of general stalls in SSPS, she notes that Zone 5 permit holders who wish to exchange their preferred permits for general ones can do so at the TDS main office.
In a longer-term attempt to alleviate parking congestion, UCI is breaking ground in the coming months on a new lot off of Bison Avenue expected to provide 1,000 parking stalls.