Although the city of Long Beach has extended its COVID-19 Parking Relief Program to last through 2020, many Long Beach State students still face difficulty with parking citations.
In an effort to mitigate parking impacts brought on by the coronavirus, the city implemented the parking relief program to alleviate street parking concerns for residents living in parking-impacted neighborhoods. The program’s extension is valid for residents with existing permits, who were able to apply for a free pass to park in a city-owned lot or garage when unable to find space on residential streets.
According to Jennifer Carey, community relations officer for Long Beach Public Works, the city offered this option to residents “to minimize parking concerns due to more residents being at home during this time.”
“The city has implemented many programs and operational changes to ease concerns and inconveniences to residents during this unprecedented time,” Carey said. “It seems there is still a lot of demand for [the parking relief] program, so the extension will likely be well-received by everyone.”
First implemented in March, the program was first extended until July 15 and then again until Sept. 7. Approved by the Long Beach City Council on Sept. 16, the city council extended the program to last until the end of the year.
Some Long Beach State students, however, have expressed concerns with the city’s parking situation. Hannah Houston, a fourth-year pre-production major, said she has received three parking citations in the past few months, which were each “incredibly frustrating.”
She feels that college students are being “quickly and shamelessly fined for parking their cars in areas that [are] disproportionately college residents living in apartments.”
“It’s difficult getting tickets for small parking offenses as a college student,” Houston said. “Paying for random expenses like that is tough when you’re supporting yourself in a lot of other ways. Having a fee that only gets worse the longer I wait to pay is a hit to my bank account that I don’t have a choice in.”
Houston said that she feels “enraged and irritated” to be ticketed for minor infractions such as street sweeping.
According to Carey, the city has resumed its regular street sweeping operations, although residents may contest their citations if dealing with complications related to the coronavirus as the city is offering “forgiveness on a case-by-case basis.”
“Contesting it is an ‘option’ that I tried once, with provided evidence, and still had to end up paying a fine,” Houston said. “Regardless of my status as a broke college student that showed up three minutes late, it didn’t matter and I had to pay.”
Katie McNamara, a fourth-year majoring in both string bass performance and creative nonfiction film production, said she feels unsatisfied with the city’s parking situation as a struggling college student.
“It’s a massive fucking pain but I don’t know what solutions could be adopted to make it easier on students or residents of Long Beach,” McNamara said. “It definitely is a real financial blow for students cause we’re all poor as hell and there’s very little leniency.”
For permit holders, the valid local lots or garages include the beach parking lots of Belmont Beach, Granada Beach and Junipero Beach, as well as several garages, library lots and schools across the city.
The city is at permit capacity, Carey said, and can no longer distribute passes to residents, so the program extension only applies to current permit holders.
The city of Long Beach also extended its 15-minute courtesy window for all on-street parking meters in an effort to accommodate residents making use of curbside pickup for local businesses and restaurants.
Residents can activate the free 15 minutes of on-street parking by pressing the green button on the meter.