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CSULB must prioritize commuting students

University parking officials seem to have a hard time stomaching CSULB’s commuter status.

Parking+lots+14B+and+14C+on+a+typical+afternoon.
Parking lots 14B and 14C on a typical afternoon.

Parking lots 14B and 14C on a typical afternoon.

Alex Navejo

Alex Navejo

Parking lots 14B and 14C on a typical afternoon.

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Every Cal State Long Beach student with a car has their own way of dealing with parking. Some drivers will arrive early enough to find a coveted spot in one of the three structures on campus; others will arrive minutes before high-traffic hour hits campus, hoping for an open spot on the fringes of parking lot 14A or 11A.

Many student drivers fork over $130 at the beginning of the semester to acquire a general parking permit (that price will go up in the semesters to come), while others shoulder the responsibility of finding off-campus parking on Palos Verdes avenue or Bellflower boulevard everyday, often driving endlessly in hopes of catching an open spot to squeeze into.

No matter what your get-to-school plan is, we all have one. We have to have one.

The real parking issue begins when there is no spot to claim and one’s get-to-school plan falls through. When you’ve arrived to campus an hour prior to your class starting, and you’re unable to find a single space open despite minutes upon minutes of scourging the lower campus student lots in search of a parking space. Eventually, you are late for class (unless you’re forced to miss it all together), and, in many cases, still need to walk up the entire span of campus to reach your next class.

While we understand that measures such as getting to school early, relying on public transportation and implementing alternative means to get to campus can mediate this parking drama, the Editorial Board believes that Cal State Long Beach’s identity as a commuter campus is a non-negotiable characteristic of the university. Therefore, parking solutions — rather than parking obstacles — must be enacted by campus administration and Parking and Transportation Services.

Over the past couple of years, CSULB has tried to emphasize what it means to be a “sustainable campus.” Money is budgeted for expansions on the campus shuttle system, while parking permit prices are on a projected rise. Campus officials contend that even with the current increase (now $130 per fall and spring semester, and scheduled to rise to $175 by 2020) CSULB is still among one of the cheaper options when it comes to paying for your right to park on campus.

However, we are unsure as to how CSULB can justify raising parking permit prices, even by small increments each semester, when parking on campus is seemingly more and more difficult as our campus population continues to rise.

Terri Carbaugh, associate vice president of public affairs, said that in order to mediate these parking troubles, the university has openly encouraged carpooling means such as Zipride and student use of public transportation.

While these steps toward remedying a worsening situation are appreciated, we retain that Cal State Long Beach must act to accommodate student commuters and their parking needs.

Carbaugh said that the high-impacted parking traffic typically settles down after the first couple of weeks of the semester.

“Overflow parking is typically offered for the first two weeks of fall semester when parking is most impacted because more students are on campus to purchase books, add or drop classes, and perform other administrative or financial aid tasks in Brotman Hall,” Carbaugh said. “You will notice that there is not enough parking during the first weeks of class, but after this time all of a sudden there is enough parking.”

We understand that the first two weeks of school are particularly hectic. However, any seasoned campus commuter may testify to the fact that even after the first couple of weeks, parking remains a difficult hurdle for students year-round.

Whether students can’t find parking, or whether they’re unable to get to their classes on upper campus in less than 30 minutes post-parking, finding a parking spot on campus is an obstacle. And the unfortunate truth is, for most, there’s simply no way around it.

After all, when students are traveling from Orange County or Huntington Beach (as many do), we can’t even pretend that taking the bus is a bearable task in comparison to taking the 405-N to the 22-W. Public transportation is time consuming, especially when the city bus systems are under-funded.

It’s incontestable that public transportation is better for the environment, and CSULB emphasizes student use of public transportation through their deal with Long Beach Transit. However, the fact remains that public transportation does not work for all students. Because of this, we believe that CSULB must become more proactive in developing parking solutions that do not inconvenience or take advantage of student commuters.

During the first two weeks of school, we suggest that the following measures be implemented for student drivers: two hour maximum parking zones should be altered to general parking during the first two weeks of the semester, and a two-week grace period should be allocated toward students who have not purchased a semesterly parking permit. The idea we have in mind is meant to make the student commuter’s morning route easier, rather than more challenging.

Accommodating commuting students doesn’t appear to be a high priority for the campus, but there are steps that could be taken to help. Instead of taking out more loans and paying for expensive parking structures, the school could look to the city for help. The city lots aren’t usually full during the week, and the buses already run from downtown Long Beach to CSULB. An arrangement could be made to rent out space in downtown parking lots for students, similar to the parking passes issued now. The bus schedules could be altered to pick up large groups of students at downtown lots and bring them into campus from there, alleviating some of the parking and traffic stress on the school.

Whatever the solution may be, it’s clear the current situation just isn’t cutting it. Until CSULB and Parking and Transportation can figure out a more long-term solution, student commuters will be stuck, usually in the middle of a full, overcrowded parking lot.

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