Campus, News

President Conoley comments on CSULB parking issues

This article was updated Sept. 9, 2019. 

In an email sent to Long Beach State faculty and staff, Sept. 6, President Jane Close Conoley acknowledged that there is a substantial issue with the current parking situation.

Perhaps, in addition to the parking stress evident early in each semester, we are seeing an evolution in student needs as they spend more time on campus in classes, at jobs, and engaging in our vibrant campus life,” Conoley said in the email.

Conoley said that though the school’s goal is to remove barriers to student success, parking is an apparent “tangible barrier” to academic progress and student achievement. 

Her email also recognized problems that lecturers face in employee parking lots. Though she said that the school has alleviated parking problems in staff lots, some lecturers still face problems parking. Some have had to cancel classes because they were unable to find parking.

Conoley said she sent the email because of her concern for student welfare. Her email asked for input from staff to help fix the parking problem for students.

“We have already a parking advisory committee that has a number of student participants,” she said. “We have asked for more input to add to the strategies I outlined in the message.” 

CSULB’s current solution to the parking crisis is the newly-implemented assisted parking, but so far it is doing more harm than good, students say.

The assisted parking program is a partnership between CSULB and Empire Parking Lot Services to assist with the large amount of traffic that takes place at the beginning of the fall semester. The current strategy is for students to park their cars and hand off their keys to attendants.

CSULB’s strategy to alleviate the parking issues on campus has been a problem for students, in the form of damage to cars and confusion about the process. Another student reported that attendants parked cars along accessible sidewalk ramps, blocking entry.

A student frustrated with the parking situation left their vehicle unattended in the roadway of lot G12, almost got their car impounded on Sept. 5 according to University Police Department Capt. Richard Goodwin. The vehicle was being loaded onto a tow truck when the student arrived back.

The student was able to retrieve their car before it was impounded. Parking has been an issue during the first couple weeks of the semester, so it’s no surprise to see numerous vehicle impound reports, according to Goodwin.

“Just parking on campus is a nightmare for people with all the cars [on campus],” Goodwin said. “When that happens, people get very frustrated and just say ‘I’m out,’ and leave their car anywhere. But when the smoke clears and you think about, it’s not very smart.” 

Fourth-year aerospace engineering major, Jeanavic Malaiba took to Twitter to express her concerns.

“I was stunned and felt very unfortunate that something like this had happened to me at school,” Malaiba said. “The valet did not mention damage or anything of the sort to me when I collected my car.”

Malaiba said after 30 minutes of looking for a parking spot she decided to use the assisted parking program in lot G12. She said she was a little wary, but she was worried that she would be late to her first day of classes. Malaiba was guided by the employees to a stacked space directly behind other cars in parking spots.

She returned to her car after her classes, and it had been moved, which she thought nothing of as she had been double parked. Malaiba only saw the driver’s side of her vehicle before she got in and drove home. 

“As I pulled into my driveway, my mom asked what happened to my car. I came around to the passengers side and saw the damage,” she said. “My car was dented and scratched all across the rear door and back side.”

On Twitter, Malaiba said that she was going to contact the school to see what could be done to fix the situation. She, the school and the University Police Department are in the middle of negotiations.

“The school was very apologetic and moved quickly to try to help me resolve this,” she said. “They’ve been helpful and understanding about this situation which I’m glad [about].”

Jeff Cook, associate vice president of strategic communications, said that if there is an accident then it should be reported to police.

“Unfortunately, I do know that minor accidents are relatively common at universities as semesters begin and people adjust to the start of a new academic year,” Cook said. “I’m not suggesting that’s OK or that we should be resigned to accept it.” 

The assisted parking program is scheduled for the first eight weeks of the semester in lots G2, G6, G7 and G12, according to the Director of Parking and Operations Robyn Ames-Woodyard. 

“Parking will be paying approximately $400,000 for this eight week program,” Ames-Woodyard said. “The cost includes the assisted parking services and the cost to add three more shuttles to the on-campus fleet for the duration of the program.”

The money primarily comes from parking permit fees, according to Ames-Woodyard.

Franco Vizcaya, a second-year computer science major, said that he also had trouble with the assisted parking program.

“As I’m sitting on my phone waiting to get helped I felt a hard thud, looked up, and saw that whoever was in front of me backed right into me,” Vizcaya said. “I got out immediately and noticed it was one of the valets.”

Vizcaya said that when he got out of his car to look at the damage he saw an indent of his license plate on the other car. He said the parking employee asked him, “You think they’ll notice?”

He was late to class already, so he decided to leave it be, though that wasn’t his only experience with the assisted parking program. The first time he used the service, attendees passed around his car keys and almost lost them because some of them didn’t know how to drive a stick-shift.

He said that it concerned him because manual cars could be significantly damaged if they are not handled correctly.

“I hate that I have no other choice but to take the valet or be late to class and it’s [filling] me with stress while I’m on campus,” Vizcaya said.

Ramon Alvarado, staff writer, contributed to this article.

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