Much ado about parking

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Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2014 6:37 pm

Students take issue with permit system, OSU works to improve options.

Deciding how a growing population of students can get to class, and where they are going to park, is a never-ending task.

It is especially daunting when Oregon State University and Corvallis officials, students and residents all have opinions and a certain stake in the matter. 

Cassie Huber, Associated Students of Oregon State University task force director for community affairs, said she has heard from more than 2,700 students with parking and transportation concerns, especially in light of the proposed residential zone parking permit system in the hands of the Corvallis Urban Services Committee. 

“They are feeling that they have no say in this, and it’s too late to change,” Huber said. 

Huber has been reaching out to individuals and student groups, keeping them abreast of city developments and answering questions. 

“I am gathering more opinions to find other means to compromise,” Huber said. 

A particular concern for residents in the area is the cost of parking permits on top of constantly rising tuition and other student costs. Permits would not guarantee permit holders a spot outside their own house. 

“They are all kind of worried about the same thing: how to get to school,” Huber said. 

The lack of available and convenient on-campus parking is a concern for many, and was aggravated by the loss of the Memorial Union parking lot and a large portion of the 15th Street and Washington Way, both of which were replaced with construction sites for new buildings.

Steve Clark, vice president for university marketing and relations, was a member of the Collaboration Corvallis parking and traffic workgroup, and is deeply familiar with the issues surrounding transportation. 

Clark admitted that this is a difficult matter to address, especially when trying to limit unintended consequences for residents and students.

“The problems that occur in the neighborhoods and on campus didn’t happen overnight,” Clark said. “It takes a process to fix what’s not been right for a long time.” 

Ali Lindsey is currently in a sorority but will be moving into an apartment next year and is concerned with paying for a permit.

“Paying for that is not going to be fun,” Lindsey said. 

Lindsey said she would consider buying an on-campus parking permit, but none of the lots are located near her house, which is inconvenient when she needs her car to drive off campus.  

Another concern is guests visiting from other areas when it is already difficult to find street parking. Under the proposed plan, guests would need to have a special permit from a permit-holding resident. 

Many students and student organizations have told Huber that they would not purchase off-campus permits, boycotting the new system if it comes into effect.

“Students wouldn’t buy off-campus parking permits, so they would have to find other means of transportation,” Huber said.

For Huber, this could result in an ideal compromise. 

“The transit system for students needs to improve too,” Huber said. “That’s a big thing everyone needs to take into consideration.” 

In the next six weeks, recommendations from the Collaboration Corvallis workgroup will be presented for public feedback as the city moves forward with its plan to eliminate free parking in the new residential zones. 

These recommendations include alternative transportation improvements to shuttle, bike and bus systems, and the zonal parking on campus that may be implemented in fall 2014. 

The zonal parking would designate different prices for permits in specific lots, like the currently underutilized Reser Stadium lot, located farther from central campus.

“We will refine the recommendations to the university to decide which to move forward with,” Clark said. 

Clark, Ward 4 City Councilman Dan Brown and President of the Central Park Neighborhood Association Courtney Cloyd will be addressing the issue of the potential parking zones at the City Club of Corvallis meeting at the Boys and Girls Club Monday at 12 p.m. 

Emma-Kate Schaake

City reporter

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