Everyone knows that perfect parking spot: it’s free, it’s close, and it’s safe. Students at the University of Oregon will do whatever it takes for them to find the perfect trifecta of parking spots. These perfect parking spots are more than six blocks off campus away in a neighborhood with tree lined streets, tidy houses built in the 40s and 50s, and residents who are primarily not university students.
Many residents of the Amazon neighborhood, which begins at 24th Avenue and extends to 30th Avenue in the south campus area, have seen a large influx of University students parking on their streets and in front of their houses to avoid paying for parking on campus. The students have clogged their streets and made it more difficult for residents and their guest to park at their own home. Students use these spaces because they are free, but Amazon residents have felt the consequences and do not think their homes are the perfect parking solution for students.
“Cars are parked in front and I can’t park in front of my own house,” says Jeff Petry, Parking Services Manager of Eugene, summarizing the complaints from the neighborhood residents. The residents want to eliminate the free parking in front of their homes to discourage the students from parking their cars for hours during the day.
Parking in the University of Oregon area requires a university parking permit, neighborhood permit or meter parking. In the west university area, the neighborhoods are exclusively permit parking and two-hour parking zones. In the past year with increased enrollment at the University, students have avoided theses areas of parking restrictions and migrated into the Amazon neighborhood.
The Amazon neighborhood has no city mandated parking restriction thus far, yet Petry said Amazon is likely to see residential parking permits to alleviate students parking in the neighborhood.
Residential parking permits would limit the cars that could park in any specific area in that neighborhood. By implementing parking permits, residents could ensure that they will have parking in front of their house and also keep students from parking there as well. Though this would solve the problem, parking permits could fuel some negative backlash from residents.
“Permits eliminate parking in your neighborhood; it eliminates traffic in your neighborhood, and it makes your neighborhood feel safer,” Petry said. “The downside is parking in front of your house is now restricted.” The same parking permits that keep students from parking in front of resident’s houses also apply to their house guests and visitors.
Residential permit parking areas have already been implemented in west university area, some places downtown and around some high schools and would only cost residents $40 per year. In order for the city to adjust parking regulations, there are a series of steps to do so. To change rates or regulated parking it’s an administrative order that goes to various city officials, city council members, posting processes and input phases from residents.
Amazon residents have expressed to the city that they know something needs to be done, yet they are unclear on a solution. “Restrict the parking is something that we try to do a minimum of just in terms of an absolute prohibition,” City Traffic Engineer Tom Larson said.
“To increase or decrease meter rates or permit rates, we have certain conditions that we have to prove why we’re doing this not just because we’re money hungry and greedy.” Petry said. “There has to be a reason why we make these changes.”
University of Oregon Searches For a Parking Solution For Both Students and Eugene Residents
In an area of 295 acres, the University of Oregon campus is able to accommodate 24,447 students in just 80 buildings. Squeezed into these 295 acres, the University of Oregon has over 50 parking lots and many spaces in these parking lots go unfilled.
The University of Oregon requires students, faculty and staff to purchase parking permits to park on campus, but many students are unwilling to pay for it. As students still insist on driving to campus, and not purchase permits, they have spread to the surrounding neighborhoods including Amazon. The University implemented new parking lots and two hour parking to encourage students to park on campus or find alternative modes of transportation, but Amazon residents have not seen a decrease of students parking in their neighborhood.
Starting in fall term the University sells parking permit that allow them access to park on site starting at $385 for a year. This option allows faculty, staff and students parking near campus in the 3,712 parking spaces that the University owns.
Even though these parking lots are available, the University encounters students, faculty and staff going elsewhere in search of free parking and have begun parking south of campus in the Amazon neighborhood.
Recently, the University of Oregon has been tearing down student and staff parking lots due to new building constructions and renovations, but it is not allowed to eliminate lots and decrease the number of parking spaces. According to the Campus Planning Policy, all lots must be replaced if they are taken over by new building constructions says Karen Hyatt, the Assistant Director of Government and Community Relations.
The new Global Scholars Hall dormitory complex on 15th Avenue and Moss Street was built in a parking lot that students used, many of which were freshmen living on campus. But since the 15th and Moss parking lot was torn down new spaces have become available. The new parking lots are located at 15th Avenue and Walnut Street, on Moss Street across Franklin Boulevard, and Villard Alley.
“Folks are used to how they used to be able to park some place without having to pay,” Karen Hyatt said. “We try to remind folks that it does cost money to run a parking system and we’ve got to charge and cover our cost.”
Local Voices Take a Different Stance on the Issue of Parking in the Amazon Neighborhood
Monday through Friday as residents are trying to get to work and get their kids off to school, University of Oregon students are trying to get to class. The adult’s dilemma is time, get out of the house on time and get to work on time; the student’s dilemma is money and how to do everything for free. During the months the University is in session, UO students gravitate to where they can get to campus conveniently, and that includes free parking.
Recently, within the past year or so, Amazon residents have noticed an increase in students parking in their neighborhood, which is south of the University beginning on 24th Avenue. It is an already busy street due to Roosevelt Middle School, University Park, popular local businesses like Sundance Natural Foods and The Humble Bagel, and the residents that live along 24th Avenue and in the Amazon neighborhood.
”There’s a school right there and parents that are ready to send their kids to school, and at that same time there’s people circling going fairly fast and not looking for kids,” said Chris Walkup who lives on 24th Avenue and Emerald Street. “They’re looking for a parking spot.” Walkup finds the parking impact in his neighborhood frustrating especially when he drives by the empty University parking lots.
Businesses in the area have not felt the same effect from student parking. “I know they use the streets that our employees use,” said Anni Katz, manager at the Humble Bagel, commenting on students using business parking and creating traffic on 24th Avenue. “But it’s nothing different than how it usually is.”
The impact of students parking in the neighborhood is minimal for businesses that have their own parking lot as students seem to only park on the streets. As a resident of the area, Katz approves of the city’s implementation of the two-hour parking zones that extend south of the University. While parking is in high demand for students, residents are also looking for parking in their neighborhood.
“I think it should be harder; there’s too many people in town,” Katz says. “Regulation of two-hour parking is a great idea and as a resident, not as a college student looking for cheap parking to get to class, we also need to be able to park on the streets.”
Epark-City of Eugene Parking Program
Epark is Eugene’s parking program to control and maintain parking and transportation in Eugene. It offers different resources for locating parking that is available and clarifying if it is free, two-hour, metered or restricted parking. There are maps available online that distinguishes between these areas.
The Apps store also sells an app called ePark that allows the user to enter their address on their mobile phone, which will track their current location and provide both on and off site parking. It also identifies long and short term parking, residential parking permit zones and free parking. The one downside of the app is that it is not able to identify if the spaces are occupied or not.
The Epark section on the City of Eugene’s website offers other features like information on how to get residential parking permits and services to pay tickets online. Information is also available on how to report a parking problem in your neighborhood, whether it is a car that is left for over 72 hours or a car that is parked illegally and not compliant with posted signs or marked zones.
UO Public Safety Enforces Parking Regulation on Campus
Beginning January 1, 2012, many Department of Public Safety officers were commissioned and sworn in as police with the same authority as state police. These officers are in new uniforms and are now armed while on duty on campus. These public safety officers are also the ones who enforce the parking regulations for the students, faculty and staff at the University of Oregon.
If the parking permit is misused or the car is parked unlawfully, the owner is subject to citation. Drivers can be cited for a range of violations including disregarding a traffic control device, blocking driveways and alleys, parking on lawns and landscaped areas, and overtime parking at street meters. A full list of citations is available on the Department of Public Safety website.
After a citation has been issued, the recipient has 30 days to pay the fee at the Business Office or Department of Public Safety office or the fine will be doubled.
If students wish to petition their ticket if they think it was issued unfairly with error, they can make the appeal within 10 days of the date of issue. Students can do this at the Office of Parking and Transportation on 15th Avenue.