Parking problems continue to plague students on and off campus

Manny D. Araujo

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Despite innovative attempts by Associated Students (AS) to assist students in finding parking in and around campus, those who drive to CSUN must still rely on mostly conventional methods.

Among one of these innovations is a mobile app, which would have allowed students to check the exact numbers of spots available in campus parking structures at any given time.

The app was scheduled for release last fall, but has yet to be unveiled or presented to university administrators for funding.

Max Aram, a graduate student, and a small team of his peers, are still working on the app’s development and have had sensors installed in spaces to count the number of cars in the B5 parking lot.

David Crandall, AS general manager, said although the app is still a work in progress, developers must work out the bugs before it is presented to William Watkins, vice president for student affairs, who will decide on whether or not the program should receive funding.

Until the meeting by Watkins is called, AS does not have any other proposals or upcoming referrals to help improve the parking situation on campus, Ramirez said.

Associated Students has also attempted to change the one-hour parking zones on Zelzah Street to two-hour parking zones with little success.

Michelle Ramirez, AS senator and creator of the referral to extend the one-hour parking spots on Zelzah Street said his organization has tabled the proposal indefinitely.

“It would have only produced 20 to 25 parking spaces and would have been very detrimental to our community relationship,” Ramirez said. “We had been working on this proposal for a while … but the L.A City (Department of Transportation) was just not OK with it.”

According to CSUN Department of Police Services, and Parking and Transportation Services, however, the parking situation on campus has steadily improved over the years, especially when it comes to the price of parking permits.

Capt. Alfredo Fernandez of CSUN PD said although CSUN has seen a heavy influx of students in the past few years (this semester alone, almost 40,000 students are enrolled CSUN), the department has been able to keep the rates for parking stickers, and the number of available parking spots on campus, steady.

Larry Isrow, CSUN parking manager, said of the 12,043 parking spaces available, about 15 to 20 percent of those spaces are available at any given time.

“Having that amount of space doesn’t mean having that amount of space next to your class,” Fernandez said. “Not everybody gets to park next to the doorstep.”

And while there are no plans to alter the parking climate of CSUN, like building a new structure as imagined by CSUN’s Envision 2035 blueprint for the future, there are already methods in effect that can alleviate some of the stresses associated with finding parking on campus.

Isrow said he recommends students use the F10 parking lot if they are having trouble finding parking on the south campus.

There, Isrow and Fernandez said, parking spots can be found almost immediately. The F10 lot also has a shuttle which takes students to the middle of campus in about seven or eight minutes.

“[F10] is an under-utilized lot,” said Isrow. “I think students look at it like it’s too far and they don’t want to take the shuttle. But, in actuality, people can go straightaway and park there, because that lot doesn’t fill up, and hop on the shuttle that runs down to the middle of campus.”

F10 can also be accessed for cheaper ($250 for fall and spring for a permit valid in F10, versus $360 for fall and spring for a permit valid in all lots) than the rest of the structures on campus, although the caveat is that they can only utilize that specific lot throughout the semester.

Fernandez says that F10 is an example of the infrastructure already in place that can improve the parking environment of CSUN.

He said the lot is regularly patrolled by CSUN PD and has other benefits that makes the lot both a more cost efficient way of parking and a more timely way of getting to class.

“The nice thing about those shuttles is that they are air conditioned in the summer and in the winter they are dry and warm and it’s a nice alternative over taking 20 to 30 minutes to find your perfect spot,” Fernandez said. “If the shuttle gets too full they will even add a second one and at peak hours have two shuttles running.”

The F10 solution to parking is one of the more recent recommendations to students from CSUN officials. Since the failure of the parking time extensions on Zelzah Avenue, AS has not had any new ideas related to parking other than awaiting the completion of the parking app.

Ramirez said the idea for extending the time limits for parking on the streets off campus was an idea that they thought of recently.

“We were frustrated with it and I brought up that class is an hour and 15 minutes, so the hour parking doesn’t do much for students; but it turned out that the street parking isn’t for us, it’s for the [surrounding community],” Ramirez said.

She said although they do not have any new ideas, they still want to hear from CSUN students and get their input as to what can be done to improve the parking situation on campus.

“We encourage students to come to our committee meetings and talk about their ideas relating to the different parking spots … so we can hear their ideas and work from there,” Ramirez said.