Amazon residents, committee members, representatives from the University of Oregon and the city gathered to figure out how to alleviate their streets of cars from students and staff of the university.
By Heidi Reeley
The increase of almost 1,000 students per year over the last five years have led to more traffic and frustrated residents. Amazon neighborhood residents discussed the issue of students parking on their neighborhood streets to avoid the parking meters and permit parking that surrounds the campus at the Amazon Steering Committee meeting Wednesday night.
Members of the Amazon Steering Committee, Amazon residents, and representatives from the University of Oregon met to hear from the residents as they placed their complaints and hoped the city of Eugene and UO had plans to combat the parking overflow.
“We have been the parking lot for the University,” resident Chris Walkup said. “It’s been a very difficult, very different situation in the past year compared to the past 15.” Trash pickup and parking on the street has been difficult for Walkup at his home on 24th Avenue and Emerald Street.
The south university parking became more impacted by students trying to avoid paying for parking closer to campus. The streets surrounding the UO campus have meters, require parking permits or are strictly enforced two hour parking. Many students are willing to park as far as 24th Avenue to avoid these areas.
Adjusting parking regulations is a long process and changing the parking meter rates and implementing either two hour parking or parking permit areas requires certain criteria to be met by the state said Jeff Petry. Parking Services Manager of Eugene.
The city of Eugene wants to limit the amount of parking restrictions, including two hour parking and yellow painted curbs, but the city is looking to restrict parking next to the curb near intersections said City Traffic Engineer Tom Larson. This restriction could prevent many bicycle and car accidents by creating better visibility for bicyclists.
Gwen Bolden, Director of Park and Transport at the University of Oregon said the university has no current plans on combatting the parking issue. The university already discourages freshmen who are living on campus from bringing their cars to reduce the number of cars on campus. There are also 3,712 spaces for faculty and staff.
Amazon residents also spoke about the students using their neighborhoods to park their cars near bus lines. Connie Berglund, who lives on 25th Avenue and Harris Street, said that students park their cars and hop the bus. Residents can legally report these cars if they have been left for 72 hours, but they usually are not parked there overnight Berglund said.
Another option would be using parking structures to increase university parking and encourage students and staff to park closer to campus and avoid surrounding neighborhoods; however the closest empty parking structures are privately owned and cannot be regulated by the university. Even if the university were to have a parking structure it would not be popular among the students and staff Jeff Petry said
“People choose flat land versus a parking structure,” Petry said. “I’ll take a leisurely walk on my iPhone rather than park in a structure and feel unsafe.”
“There are options out there, but there’s nothing that we’ve looked at to this point yet, “ Bolden said.
“I was hoping to hear the city had a plan,” Chris Walkup said. The committee discussed solving the parking issue by implementing two hour parking in the area. “I was hoping not to go that way.”