Parking crunch pits neighbors against UCSD students

By Dave Schwab

daves@lajollalight.com

Students and neighbors agree UCSD has parking problems on — and off — campus.

But how to resolve them is where the agreement ends.

“They should build a huge parking structure instead of building (more) housing,” said Pedro, a former UCSD student now a Salk Institute employee, who parks in the same vacant lot near the Torrey Pines Gliderport that he did as a student — and as hundreds of students still do.

“It’s (parking’s) way too expensive,” said Parisa, a fourth-year UCSD theater major about the $732 annual — or $61 monthly — cost of a student parking permit. She was making the 5- to 10-minute walk to class one morning last week from one of the university’s de facto student parking lots on La Jolla Scenic Drive North.

“It’s really convenient and it’s free,” she said.

It isn’t just that on-campus parking’s expensive, said the theater major. It’s that there’s not enough of the right kind.

Out of balance

“There are very few spots for undergraduate students,” she said. “There’s lots more parking for graduate students and faculty: The population doesn’t match.”

Asked if students parking in her Poole Street neighborhood a couple blocks from the campus is a problem, Jean Selzer answered: “They overwhelm us. Students park everywhere. We’ve had people blocking our driveway.”

On her street, one side has a two-hour parking limit; the other side has none.

Selzer said neighbors concur something should be done to limit students from parking in the neighborhood off La Jolla Shores Drive. But she said their previous request to the city to change curb striping ease the situation was rejected.

“They said there just wasn’t enough parking for the students.”

Another Poole Street resident, Laurie Phillips, said a student once rapped on her door early one morning to inquire as to when she was moving her car from in front of her home so that she could “have her parking spot.”

Selzer, however, thinks there could be a relatively simple answer.

Follow SDSU’s lead?

“We could do something like San Diego State University (area) residents have, where they’ve got permits and won’t be ticketed,” she said.

The impact of student parking was discussed at the October and November meetings of the La Jolla Shores Association, the neighborhood’s community advisory group.

On Nov. 9, UCSD transportation officials detailed the campus parking picture, answering questions and attempting to explain funding and transportation issues and their complexity.

Brad Werdick, UCSD’s physical planning director, said campus parking and regional traffic circulation are linked, noting three planned transportation improvements — the I-5/Genessee interchange, the long-term I-5 widening from La Jolla north to Oceanside and the extension of the trolley from Old town to UCSD campus by 2018— will relieve campus congestion long-term but not anytime soon.

“The trolley has really been a big game-changer for SDSU reducing 1,500 to 2,000 student parking permits,” he noted.

Pay as you go

Assistant vice chancellor Russell Thackston said state law requires the university’s parking and transportation division to be self-supporting.

“We have to generate enough money to pay for all the things we do in parking and alternate transportation,” he said, adding UCSD spends millions annually on shuttle services conveying students from parking areas to class.

But Thackston was quick to point out building new parking structures isn’t an easy — or inexpensive — solution.

“A parking structure costs $25,000 per parking space — it’s very expensive,” he said, noting that the state budget crisis and continuing higher-education cuts are making the parking problems much more difficult to resolve.

Some Shores association board members questioned whether the university isn’t creating some of its own parking problems.

“How many student parking spaces have been lost (to campus development) in the last 10 years?” asked Tim Lucas.

“Four hundred to 500 — 18 percent are gone,” answered Werdick.

“It seems interesting that you can build parking garages for $25,000 per space, but it doesn’t cost you anything to take away hundreds of spaces at a time,” Lucas replied.

Board member Debra Rappaport-Rosen suggested the problem of student parking in nearby neighborhoods won’t be resolved “until there’s two-hour parking all around the university.”

Milt Phegley, campus community planner, said public reaction and questions about university policy concerning parking will be compiled and the university will come to a future meeting with responses.

FAST FACTS

In the city’s residential permit parking districts:

• On-street parking is prohibited during certain hours, except for vehicles displaying valid permits. The non-refundable $14 permit cost is reduced to $7 for each permit during the last six months of the permit year.

• Temporary, two-week permits are available to Residential Permit holders for $3.50 each.

• A petition form to begin the process of creating a permit district is available through the city’s Traffic Engineering Division at (619) 533-3126.

• Petitions must be circulated among residents in the petitioning neighborhood and signatures from at least 50 percent of residents in affected areas is required. Only residents may sign not property managers or absentee property owners.

• The city will conduct a parking survey to evaluate neighborhood impacts.

• The final decision on establishment of a district is made by the City Council.

• The entire process to establish a residential permit district takes approximately one year.

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