The city of La Verne placed “no parking” signs Monday on all residential streets within a three-block radius of the University of La Verne. They will stay for the remainder of the fall semester and reappear at the start of spring semester.
Increased enrollment at ULV has created a parking crunch that has forced many students and employees to park on city streets up to several blocks away from campus.
After the La Verne Police Department received numerous complaints from residents who said they were unable to park on their own streets, the city responded.
La Verne Police Chief Scott Pickwith said he and other city officials spoke with ULV administrators to try to come up with a reasonable plan to accommodate increased demand for parling.
“The purpose was to break the cycle and redirect them to somewhere else that is more convenient,” Pickwith said. “(Residents) are compassionate to the need of parking, but they are unable to park near their own homes.”
In a desperate effort, Pickwith said that some residents left chairs and toys on the streets to try a save parking spots for themselves in front of their own homes. However, some La Verne students apparently would remove these items, leading to confrontations with the residents.
“Our priority is citizen protection,” said Bob Russi, La Verne city manager. “We talked to the University about what we felt needed to be done and they agreed.”
Other issues raised included visitors leaving trash on residents’ property, and drivers slowing down to search for a parking spot but inconsistently speeding up in frustration in front of residents’ houses, Pickwith said.
While students and employees are forced to adapt to this sudden change in parking policy, LVPD used this week as an education process, hoping drivers would comply without direct punishment.
“I prefer this works perfect and we do not have to write any tickets,” Pickwith said.
While residents no longer have to worry about parking, University of La Verne students and employees have a greater challenge in fining parking and making it to class on time.
Some faculty members on campus believe that there is one solution to help the parking process easier: the University’s remote lot and shuttle service.
“We all can look around and blame someone and say we admitted too many people,” Professor of Movement and Sports Science Paul Alvarez said. “But we have a shuttle service that is not being used.”
The shuttle lot can fit 250-300 cars at capacity, according to Clive Houston-Brown, associate vice president for facilities and technology services.
“Reality is we have more vehicles on campus than can be accommodated,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez believes the faculty and staff on campus should park in the shuttle lot.
“Students should have central campus parking,” Alvarez said. “The reason why we’re here is for the students.”
After the shuttle service started, the city gave the University a chance to see if the program could clear ULV vehicles off residential streets.
“At a full-house city meeting on the parking issue in October, the city promised residents and merchants they would take action if the University did not succeed in getting students, faculty and staff off the streets and into the shuttle lot,” Houston-Brown said. “Unfortunately, after three months of effort, we were not able to get more than 40-60 people to park in the shuttle lot.”
“We were aware the city was going to act,” Alvarez said. “Quite frankly, there was nothing we could do about it.”
As of this week, the shuttle service has begun to run five days a week.
Currently, the University is working on its approved master plan that was completed in 2006-2007 and approved by the city of La Verne and the Board of Trustees, which shows the future development of two parking structures, according to Chip West, senior director of central services and capital planning.
One structure will be built south of the Campus Center in what is now parking lot D, and the other will be on the southeast corner of Bonita Avenue and C Street, which would be built in partnership with the city.
The master plan also outlines expansion of parking lots in and around campus through the acquisition of new land or repurposing existing buildings and spaces, according to West.
However, the University has not made any commitment on a time frame in which the lots will constructed and finished.
Until then, students and faculty must deal with situation and find parking on campus.
If students and faculty use the shuttle parking lot, they are entered into a raffle to win an iPad.
In the end, the logic is simple as to why the city the new parking restrictions.
“Residents have a vote, the students don’t,” Alvarez said.
Alex Forbess can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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