University official shares future of campus parking
With the return to fully in-person activities, including Chapel, to campus this semester, one issue has become a concern for many California Baptist University students: the parking, or lack thereof. This semester, students have had to circle parking lots searching for spots and some have missed classes or activities as they search for a place to park.
“Parking this year on campus has been really difficult since there are more students this year,” Victoria Coria, sophomore interior design major.
“I live at Magnolia Crossing and it takes me maybe 20 minutes to find decent parking. I have to wake up around one hour early before my classes to make it to campus and get to class on time.”
This is an especially frustrating issue for commuters.
“This semester, I have had the worst time finding parking while being a commuter,” said Taylor Farr, senior communication sciences and disorders major.
“On the Health Science Campus, I have had to search the parking lot twice before I could find a spot. I have been late to my class because I have not been able to find a parking spot.”
Christian Dinco, assistant director of Safety Services, said the school is encountering parking scarcity because the student enrollment is always growing. Although the East Parking Structure has helped the school cope with overflow, students are still struggling to find parking this year.
Dinco said that the major issues with parking occur when people are parking in a location where they should not be parking.
“We have enough parking for everyone, but (only) as long as everyone is parking in their zone,” Dinco said. “When people start parking out of their zone, that’s when we start having large backups and overflows throughout campus.”
Each student is assigned a zone in which to park based on where they live on campus if they are residential students. Commuter students are also assigned their own zone. When people park outside of their assigned area and in another area, there might no longer be enough spots for the students who are supposed to park in that zone, creating a domino effect.
These issues are exacerbated this year by the return to in-person Chapel. In addition, the school only offers chapel on Tuesdays this year rather than Tuesdays and Thursdays, making parking worse on Tuesdays.
Dinco said the presence of unregistered vehicles on campus is another issue that contributes to parking struggles. When unregistered vehicles park on campus, they take spots that should belong to students in that zone.
Unregistered vehicles occur often when students do not know how to get their parking permits. Dinco said the sticker-based parking pass system currently in place contributes to this issue because students often do not know how to get a parking pass or where to pick it up. To combat this issue, Dinco said the school is considering the possibility of transitioning to a digital parking pass system and is currently talking to a company about implementing a digital system that would use license plates as a digital pass.
Dinco said the school is also attempting to make the use of shuttles more common for students on campus. The campus has shuttles that travel between shuttle stops every 20 minutes, and these shuttles also travel to Adams Business Park, the airport and the Health Science Campus. However, the shuttles do not travel between Magnolia Crossing and main campus because it is too challenging for the shuttles to loop around in an efficient way.
Safety Services is currently working to publicize the shuttle routes and stops by updating campus maps to include the stops, sharing them on social media and setting up signs at shuttle stop locations throughout campus.
However, Farr said she does not think the shuttles will help commuters overcome parking challenges.
“I don’t think the shuttle system would fix the problem because people still need a place to park when they get to campus,” Farr said.
Coria also said she does not think she would want to take the shuttle because of the shuttle schedule.
“Personally, I’ve never used the shuttle before but I don’t plan to use it because I like to be on my own schedule and not (have to) deal with running around to catch the shuttle back and forth,” Coria said.
Eventually, the school plans to construct a West Parking Structure.
“(We are) not quite there yet, but we’re getting there,” Dinco said. “When that happens, it will really open up a lot more parking for our students and residents and make it a lot easier. Until we get there, we need to make sure everyone is doing their part: registering their vehicle, parking in their zone and taking the shuttles whenever that’s available, or riding with a friend when they are going to the same place. Being a little bit creative when going from place to place on campus really helps out on that parking.”
Dinco advises students to contact Safety Services if they cannot park in their zone. That means a vehicle is incorrectly parked in the zone. Then, Safety Services will know to target that area with parking checks.
“We want to make sure the residents that live in those areas can park,” Dinco said. “Sometimes it takes a little bit of enforcement, a little bit of management and a little bit of education, so we’re going to work on all three as we go through this.”
When it comes to major events and game days coming later on in the semester, Dinco said the university is still planning out how parking will look.
“One of the things that the university does is we understand that students are what we are here for,” Dinco said. “That is the population we serve and when we are doing pre-planning for major events, a lot of the staff will park a little bit farther away because we want to make sure the students can get to classes on time.
“That is what we are all here to do: make sure students have a good college experience, they can get to their classes, they can learn and they can graduate and go on to serve God and serve their community.”