Parking Pain Persists

I just want to find a place to put my car

For me, the start of the spring semester means the return of the eternal struggle to find a parking space. Many Cal Poly Humboldt students, both on and off campus, are finding it difficult to find a parking space. Even those of us who usually walk to campus are impacted by a lack of parking.

The parking situation on and around campus is absolutely abysmal. Campus parking permits and metered parking are expensive and purchasing a campus permit does not guarantee that you will find an open parking space. $157 a semester is a lot of money to pay to not be guaranteed a spot to park. I know students who live on campus who can’t even park outside of their own dorms. I’ve talked to commuter students who have to move their cars multiple times a day to avoid being ticketed.

You would think that living in an off campus house within a short walking distance of the school would resolve any parking issues. However, parking is still a huge problem for my roommates and I. One side of our street is 4-hour parking from 7 am to 5 pm, intended for students to be able to park off campus and walk if they don’t have a campus parking permit or if campus parking is full. The other side of the street is reserved for vehicles with residential parking permits. I have four roommates and we all have cars. That’s five vehicles that we have to try and fit in our parking zone, which we also share with our neighbors.

Photo by Nina Hufman | The parking zone in an off campus neighborhood in Arcata, California.

We can usually fit four of our cars in front of our house if we park as close to the edges of the residential zone as possible. Because my neighborhood is so close to campus, there are usually several student vehicles parked in the 4-hour zone. I often come home to find that our residential parking is full. I am then forced to parallel park, very poorly might I add, across the street from my house.

Parking, specifically parking enforcement, is something my roommates and I commiserate about almost daily. We sit in our kitchen, talking about how much we hate the guy who enforces parking on our street. He’s a jerk, he takes his job way too seriously, and I honestly think he has it out for my brother. It feels like he targets our street, and my brother’s car specifically.

He literally stopped my brother in the street to ask him which car was his and tell him that it’s illegal to remove chalk from the tires of your car. He kept moving his little, three-wheeled car in front of my brother to prevent him from walking away. During this interaction, he was in the way of one of my other roommates who was trying to park. Imagine being a middle aged man having beef with a 21-year-old who’s just trying to park in front of his house. That feels like an inappropriate interaction to have with an “authority” figure. As a college student who is just trying to get an education, the last thing on my mind is fighting with parking enforcement.

I can’t help but think, if I’m fed up with the parking situation, it must be absolutely enraging to have purchased a campus parking permit, but never be able to park. It’s not the students’ fault that they’re parking in my neighborhood. To be honest, it’s a very convenient distance from campus, especially if you can’t park any closer. The real problem is that campus parking is so scarce.

Cal Poly Humboldt students pay a lot of money for parking to only be able to park on campus sometimes. The issue doesn’t only impact the campus. Student vehicles overflow into the surrounding neighborhoods, creating a lack of parking for everyone who lives nearby.

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