Change is on the horizon for CSUN commuters

cars parked in parking lot
Lot B1 around 6 p.m. on a Wednesday, fall 2017 Photo credit: Nick Rose

Andra Hebib and her sister Mirne Hebib are no strangers to the CSUN parking fracas. Their short commute to CSUN several times a week is met with lots swarming with cars.

Many students feel desperation as they circle row after row with no hope of a parking vacancy in sight. Luckily for Andra, her sister’s first class isn’t for another hour, so she calmly exits her vehicle and leaves Mirne to locate a spot with her remaining time. Unfortunately, many CSUN students don’t have someone like Mirne to navigate and find an open spot.

With just under 33,400 students enrolled as of fall 2013, there are just over 12,000 parking spaces to serve student, faculty, disabled persons and all other parking needs, according to the CSUN Office of Institutional Research.

“I hate the parking situation on campus. If you come after 9:15 a.m. all the spots are taken,” CSUN student Rania Hawatmeh, who regularly gives herself 40 minutes to park, said. “The [parking] passes are way too expensive for the amount of time and gas we waste going up and down the structures to find a spot.”

The parking impaction is a common conversation among many commuting students who find it difficult to locate a space quickly.

To combat it, CSUN will be unveiling the all-new parking guidance system. An app-based tracking and reporting system that will display the current number of available spaces in each of the three major lots on campus: B3, B5, and G3. This program is projected to be available by spring semester 2018

“If we intelligently route students to open lots, it’s really going to cut down on the time needed to look for parking,” Associated Students President Jonathan Goldenberg said, “The new smart parking system is really going to change the name of the game.”

A mobile payment system for daily parking permits is also rolling out this spring allowing students to purchase paperless parking permits via a smart device. The program will offer students the same services as parking kiosks without having to leave their car. Students will submit payment along with their license plate number to be registered as a paperless voucher.

Changes also include the construction of the new G6 parking structure that is to be positioned near Plummer Street and Zelzah Avenue that included 2,004 parking spaces. The more than $30 million structure is scheduled to break ground in Fall 2018 and expected to finish in Spring of 2020, according to the CSUN Department of Parking and Transportation Services.

For the students who will not be on campus for the unveiling of G6 in 2020, they can still take advantage of 118 new spaces added to the existing B5 lot available this spring.

CSUN parking has used programs such as Zimride, a web-based carpooling program which has helped many students share commuting costs while reducing demand for parking.

CSUN is also releasing the pilot program LimeBike, with 400 bikes that will be placed at strategic high-volume locations and recirculated throughout the day.

According to Goldenberg, the largest success has been the Metro U-Pass that has helped over 1,000 students per semester find sustainable transportation to campus from the greater Los Angeles area, many who would have otherwise been driving to campus.

Associated Students is trying to get students to take more creative approaches to transportation.

“If the majority of the people living in the three to five-mile radius used an alternate mode of transportation to get to campus, 12,000 parking spaces would be half empty,” Goldenberg said.