Passing on Campus Parking

Passing on Campus Parking

Every semester, students spend hours circulating the parking structures at SMC trying to find an available spot. The years roll by and nothing seems to change.

“If you get to school anytime after 7:30 a.m., the parking structure is way too crowded and it starts to get difficult to find a spot,“ said Ian Sikes, Computer Science major. “The longest I’ve had to drive around for is two hours and 15 minutes.”

The two parking structures at the main campus always seem to be completely full by 8:00 a.m., so any students arriving after this time either have to drive around like a headless chicken, waiting and hoping for a spot to open and risk being late to their class, or look for parking elsewhere.

Many students decided to stop using the parking structure on the main campus, as in previous semesters they had paid for parking permits and were never able to find a space when they needed it. That is $85 a semester wasted.

Those who decided to arrive early in order to find a parking space on the main campus often just studied for an hour or so before their class to pass the time.

As parking at SMC only seems to waste time and create stress, students have decided to find alternative methods for parking. While the school has come up with some alternatives for frustrated drivers, some students have turned to mroe unconventional methods.

“Foster's Freeze sells parking spots to students,” said Jose Cruz, Social Psychology major. “I have parked there about twice so far. It’s about $10 per day and it’s cash in hand. They just make you write down the model and plate number of your car.”

Although possibly not convenient for long-term, this could be an option for students running late to class or unable to find any other parking.

One student discussed the alternative method of renting a local resident’s parking spot for either a lot cheaper than the SMC permit or, if you know someone, borrowing it for free. Many local residents’ parking spots are left empty.

Sean Tasi, Film Studies major at SMC, said “my friend lived on 18th street so he got the [residential parking] permit. But because he didn’t have a car, I borrowed the permit from him and parked in his space for free.”

Some students have got so fed up with the parking situation at SMC that they have turned to illegal alternative methods. More than one student has placed a blue badge for disabled parking in the windscreen of their car. The students aren’t disabled themselves and the badges are often obtained from a relative. This allows the students to park for free in selected areas. Also, some students take advantage of the free parking for guests at the public library near school. Some even leave their car there all day and have not yet been caught.

People have been able to find success pursuing the alternative parking methods promoted by the school though.

“One day, I decided to check out the Bundy campus and it was only half full,” said Sikes. “I would go there around noon and there was plenty of spots. At that same time the main campus would be packed.”

Sikes continued, “I found out that you could get a satellite parking pass and park at both the Bundy and Performing Arts campuses for free. Then you just get the free shuttle to the main campus, which only takes about ten minutes or so. If going from Bundy, you can also take the Big Blue Bus number 44.”

Another common alternative is to park for free on local residential streets and then walk, bus, or Uber to school. Many students also take their bikes in their car and then cycle the remaining distance to campus. It appears common among students, especially females who had night-time classes, to then Uber between school and the free street parking.

Gwen Skolnick, Computer Science and Engineering major at SMC, commuted from the valley and never purchased any form of parking permit.

“The easiest and cheapest way to park near SMC is to just park on Ocean Park Boulevard,” said Skolnick. “The block from 17th to 25th is free game for parking. If you park as far as 25th, the most you’ll walk to school is 15 minutes, [but] if you don’t want to walk, you can hop on the 8 or 44 at every corner of Ocean Park."

"Parking on Ocean Park just entails that you read the signs for street cleaning. I don’t find it necessary to spend so much money on a permit where people not only often don’t find spaces but people park horribly there and it’s just a lose-lose situation in most cases,” said Skolnick.

Skolnick also said, “Bob’s market area is fine if you just drive up 17th and look at the residential areas and find [free] two hour parking.”

Other common areas for free start parking are near the bridge crossing the 10 freeway on 17th St. and around Woodland Cemetery Park.

For many students, the time spent looking for an available spot in SMC's parking structures is actually more than the time spent sitting in class. The aforementioned alternative methods of parking appear to be the way forward for the majority of students. These options are considered less expensive, less stressful, and less time consuming.