Trading Spaces – more parking for commuters

Photo Illustration by Chelsea Matiash and Felipe Lobon
Photo Illustration by Chelsea Matiash and Felipe Lobon

A proposal has already been accepted for next semester to change the surface lots in Mahoney/Pearson to be designated solely for commuters during the school week as well as making spots available in the Eaton parking lot, said Richard Sobaram, director of parking and transportation.“It’s about time,” commuter sophomore Isabela Ferraz said. “It’ll space out car congestion.”This fall, the three surface lots with approximately 110 parking spaces surrounding Mahoney/Pearson became available to commuters as well as residents. The problem is that residents’ cars sit there all week without allowing others to park; the department of parking and transportation has marked tires to determine how long cars sit in a single spot and some cars were in the same spot for four days, wasting spaces that could be used.

Monday through Friday, Mahoney/Pearson residents will need to park in the garage by the volleyball courts, which has about 260 spots. According to Sobaram, there are about 7,500 commuters and 1,000 employees who search for spots every day as opposed to the 50-60 residents in Mahoney/Pearson who have cars. Eaton residents will not be displaced.

“They will be able to park in the same place, but the lot is underutilized because there are more spaces available in that lot than Eaton residents with cars,” Sobaram said.

There will be about 40 designated parking spots for commuters in the Eaton lot, which will be clearly identified with signs.

“That’s great because now it won’t take me half an hour to find parking,” commuter sophomore Michelle Robinson said.

Parking has been a great issue of debate this semester especially since the temporary gravel lot by the business school closed.

Carrie Brunt Whiteside, head of the commuter advisory board, said that anytime the university provides closer parking to the heart of campus, it’s good for students so they don’t have to rely on the shuttles.

Although Sobaram explained there have not been focus groups with Mahoney/Pearson residents on the future change, he has heard resident’s opinions, which vary from those who always prefer parking their cars under cover and those who will be inconvenienced. According to Sobaram, the Mahoney/Pearson garage goes largely unused every day.

“There is ample parking on campus and we need to start thinking strategically about how we can best allocate these spaces to better meet the needs of the campus community,” Sobaram said.

This new policy is in response to lot usage surveys and the changing dynamic on campus. This is the second year freshmen are not allowed to have their cars on campus and, according to Sobaram, many have decided they do not need one sophomore year. Also, many upperclassmen are living in apartment complexes off campus.

“All of these things have resulted in fewer resident students having cars, yet the inventory of spaces dedicated solely for residents students have remained high,” Sobaram said. “We need to re-allocate these spaces, especially in areas that are more convenient for commuter students and employees.”

Claudia Curiel may be contacted at