Residents find the Amazon neighborhood overflowing with cars because of permit prices and zone restrictions around the university.
By Lily Nelson
Amazon residents are having problems with their neighborhood becoming a parking lot for University of Oregon students, faculty, and staff.
Citizens of the area met at a Steering Committee meeting this Wednesday night to voice complaints and discuss potential solutions with city and university officials. With parking restrictions extending to more areas near campus, people park on Amazon streets to dodge the price of parking tickets and permits available for the 3,712 parking spots in campus lots.
Gwen Bolden is the director of parking and transportation for UO’s Department of Public Safety, a position created in January to deal with the problems that have been arising in the past year.
“There are options out there, but there’s nothing that we’ve looked at to this point yet,” she said. “It’s very important to make sure neighbors’ concerns are being met.”
Jeff Petry has been the parking services manager for Eugene for the past five years. The main problem is the lack of use of parking structures in the University area because it leads to the overflow of cars on residential streets, he said.
“Free parking’s like water,” Petry said. “People gravitate toward it.”
The lowest rate for a permit is $385 per year and the majority of spaces are left unfilled due to the expense.
“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.”
Connie Berglund of 2577 Harris St. lives directly on a bus line that brings people to campus after they park for free on residential streets. To fit in more spots, cars are packed right up to the intersections. As a bicyclist, Berglund has to pull farther and farther into the street to see the flow of traffic around the parked cars.
“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” she said.
City traffic engineer Tom Larson said the city tries to limit restricted parking in these areas because it takes away valuable parking spaces in front of homes and is dangerous for bicyclists and pedestrians.
“”It opens up the road and makes it feel a lot wider so cars speed up, ” Larson said. “People ignore you if you’re standing in a cross-walk.”
Chris Walkup, a 15-year resident of 24th and Emerald, attributes the increasing parking problems to the rising enrollment at the U of O.
With 5,000 more students in the past five years alone, Walkup’s main concern is the traffic brought in by the people trying to find free parking spaces.
“Parents are concerned about sending their kids to school,” he said. “They (Drivers) are not looking for kids, they’re looking for parking spots.”
Walkup said that this issue is a localized problem, and thus calls for a localized solution. However, according to Gwen Bolden, the only way to change parking restrictions in this area is if the Oregon State Board of Higher Education votes on her recommended solutions through an administration process.
“I was hoping to hear that the city had a plan,” Walkup said. “The best route seems to be 2-hour parking, but I was hoping not to go that way.”
With more and more restrictions coming into these neighborhoods, Amazon residents must buy permits and guest passes every year to avoid a flood of parking tickets.
“Parking is an emotional aspect for some people.” Jeff Petry said. “A $16 ticket brings out every issue going on in life.”