Parking Wars: A Battle in the Streets of the Amazon

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A circle of chairs for the neighborhood meeting

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The meeting sign outside of Amazon Community Center

Amazon residents, city officials and university representatives come together to try and solve the parking problem in the Amazon district.

By Brad Nelson

A meeting was held at the Amazon Community Center yesterday, where residence of the Amazon neighborhood, city officials and university representatives sat down and discussed possible solutions for the parking problem that has recently arisen in the neighborhood. The increase of nearly 1000 students every year has turned the area into a “parking lot” for the university, and residents are concerned about overcrowding, available parking and safety.

“People choose flat land versus a parking structure,” said Jeff Petry, Parking Services Manager of Eugene, when talking about the influx of students in the area. He went on to say that most students would choose a long walk with their iphone than park somewhere they have to pay or feel unsafe.

The area, which begins on 24th street, is a place where students can park their cars, or as Connie Berglund of 25th and Harris street mentioned,  jump on the bus and avoid the walking. These cars, which can be legally reported by the residents for staying longer than 72 hours, are usually left by the curb all day and then removed before nightfall.

Beside the overcrowding of these sometimes narrow streets, other residents are more concerned about safety than anything else.  Chris Walkup, a member of the community and resident near a local elementary school, had a few words for the meeting regarding safety and parking: “We have been a parking lot for the University…  it’s been a very difficult, very different situation in the past year compared to the past 15.” Walkup went on to say that there are 2 to 3 traffic related injuries every year in his area of the neighborhood.

Gwen Bolden, the director of parking and transportation for U of O’s Department of Public Safety -a position created only this January due to this problem- was also present at the meeting, and spoke to why students are choosing to park blocks off campus rather than use the 3,712 parking spots available on University property. Although she supposed the problem started with students refusal to pay for permits ($385 a year), she was asked about options and what the University will do to correct this problem: “There are options out there, but there’s  nothing that we’ve looked at to this point yet,” Bolden said, “It’s very important to make sure neighbors’ concerns are being met.”

For now, it seems, the parking struggle will continue; Amazon neighbors and university representatives are working towards a common agreement, though it may be some time until a plan is conceived and carried out. “I was hoping the city had a plan,” Chris Walkup said, while 2-hour parking permits were being discussed. Though he wants the problem to be solved, he said he was “hoping not to go that way” as far as the permits are concerned.

About bradleyn@uoregon.edu

Senior at U of O. Journalism major.
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