For most young college students, acquiring their own car is going from one set of problems to another.
Getting a car means transitioning from the set of difficulties involving public transport: long waiting times, trips that took forever, standing out in the cold. To those of having a car: paying for gas, oil, insurance, among other operating costs, and of course, the granddaddy of them all–finding a place to park the thing. It’s one thing trying to park it in a normal parking lot. In a parking lot full of people trying to be in the same place at the same time? Oh please!
The fact of the matter is this, parking spots at Mesa College are even rarer than bald eagles in southern California, and that’s putting it lightly. There are several parking lots spread across campus, even a massive parking garage, but even that’s not enough for Mesa College’s purposes. It seems that to get choice parking, students and faculty have to arrive at least two hours prior to their classes, and that’s no guarantee there’s a place available.
Not surprisingly, this can lead to problems. The most obvious, students and professors are late for class. Then, people don’t learn, and oftentimes get lower grades, as time spent circling campus is not spent in class or doing homework.
Now, it’s not all bad. There’s a valet parking service, with a lot near the Z buildings on the east side of campus. There’s on-street parking off campus, with a catch.
The parking is outside the “No Parking” zones, and there’s some walking involved to get to campus. As the semester goes on, parking spots have been known to open up, especially in the main parking lot. But until then, there needs to be a solution.
Well, there are a few short-term ways to solve the parking issue. The school can promote other ways of getting to campus: walking, biking, carpooling, hitchhiking (no, not really,) Uber, Lyft, and public transportation. There are pre-existing zones on campus for Uber and Lyft drivers to pick up/drop off students, and there’s a bus stop for Route 44 on the east side of campus. In years past, for the first two weeks of the semester, the National Guard Armory next door opened up their parking. As referenced earlier, there’s off-campus parking on streets, but out of the no-parking zones, and with a walk. Those last two, however, are Band-Aids on a wound that requires serious stitches.
The good news is that there exists a fix to the problem. The construction on campus is scheduled to wrap up by 2018, so a few spaces in the lower parking lot will be usable again. Beyond that, there could be something else, such as expanding the parking on campus, however, that will be expensive–and cause more parking issues during construction. There’s a perfect solution out there somewhere; nobody knows about it yet, probably a bigger parking garage.
This is not the first time in recent memory the issue of parking has been raised, nor will it be the last. As semesters go on, the problem solves itself. As for the opening weeks of the semester? Here’s an idea for a solution: secure temporary parking permits for Kearny High School and the National Guard Armory. These only have to last till halfway in the semester. Next, work with MTS on improving bus service to and from Mesa. (See my article from last November.) Finally, work on expanding parking on campus, preferably by adding another level over half of the main parking lot. It’ll be expensive and time-consuming, true, but it will fix the problem.
It’s a given that this will be solved. Until then, the first week of every semester will be filled with people looking for a space, missing class and creating a safety risk. That’s the price we pay for progress–and owning cars.