by Nina Hufman and Cash Rion
Every day, Cal Poly Humboldt students drive through full parking lots past rows and rows of parked cars as they desperately and often fruitlessly search for the rare and elusive open parking spot. This is the result of the university selling an excess of both general and residential parking passes in tandem with an increase in students due to the school’s new polytechnic status. There are more active passes than there are permitted parking spaces on campus, with active passes including both semester and year-long parking passes.
“I’ve heard from a lot of students that don’t live on campus that it can be hard to find parking unless you get here really early,” said Evan Vieira, a wildlife and conservation major. “I’ve known students who have gotten here only as late as 9 or 10 am and have not found parking.”
A public records request revealed that, this semester, Cal Poly Humboldt oversold parking passes for both general and residential parking. As shown in the graphs, overselling parking is a growing trend across semesters, with 119 more general passes sold than there were parking spots, and 431 excess residential passes.
“It sucks total ass,” said art education major Mikayla Nicholas. “I don’t personally drive but I have friends who do and it takes them at least 20-40 minutes [to find parking.] They sell way too many parking passes than they have spaces.”
The number of general parking passes sold has increased from last year. The number of active general parking passes increased by 79% from fall 2021 to spring 2022. The number of active general parking passes for fall 2022 has more than doubled since fall 2021, but the number of general parking spaces has remained the same.
Meanwhile, sales of residential parking permits have stayed relatively consistent, being oversold each semester. In fall 2021 and fall 2022, 431 more passes were sold than there were spots for, and in spring 2021 the number rose to 579 oversold. Anyone with a residential permit that cannot find a space in resident-specific lots overflows into general parking lots. This further contributes to the lack of general parking.
“I think it’s alright most of the time if you live on campus,” Vieira said. “I live in campus apartments so my car doesn’t move that often, so I’m typically in a parking spot.”
While those who live on campus can generally find parking, students who drive to campus are becoming increasingly upset at the lack of available parking.
“Horrible, absolutely horrible,” said Harrison McDonald, a wildlife management and conservation major. “Since I have an 8 am, I get pretty lucky, but when I don’t, it takes me anywhere from 10 to sometimes even 40 minutes if I can even find parking.”
Many students are frustrated that they pay for general parking passes, only to have to pay for metered parking or to be unable to park on campus.
“Humboldt for the year, you pay over 300 dollars for [a parking pass] and you’re not guaranteed a spot and you still have to pay for parking meters,” McDonald said.
Other students are frustrated by the message that they feel overselling parking passes sends. The university profits from parking pass sales, but has nowhere to put the extra vehicles.
“I did not know that [parking was oversold],” Vieira said. “I feel like that’s not great because then you’re kind of saying to a lot of students, ‘you can all park here,’ but then not actually having the spaces to give them parking.”
Oversold maybe, but the general idea no doubt is that the parking passes are not 24/7, that the transitory nature of ingress and egress will occur more than once per daylight hours. Spots open up randomly…always been this way.
That written, agreed more metered parking spaces is needed because driving around endlessly looking for a spot is not good for climate change…and all parking spaces should be considered in groypings to accommodate size and type of vehicle. All too often, pick-ups must park far away because the University reduces the size of parking space to squeeze more parking spaces in.
Personally, on-campus residency gets priority…
It could be easily calculated how many cars with parking passes can be expected to be on campus during a particular part of any day, and it is also readily apparent that they sell more passes than spaces exist at that time.
It really must be said that selling something you know you do not have is perilously akin to fraud.
Maybe not connected directly to this story but in the theme of parking: what is the deal with motorcycle passes?
I can buy a car pass but I also need a motorcycle pass. Why can’t the fact I spent money on the car pass also grant me a motorcycle pass? Additionally, I can move a car pass between cars. The permanent nature of the motorcycle sticker makes it impossible to move between motorcycles. If I want to take a different motorcycle to campus I need to pay for the pass again.
Unfortunately, while I can usually find motorcycle parking, most of the stalls are in terrible locations. The one near Gist and Founder’s are the only really good ones. JGC seems nice but cars constantly cut through the space to turn that corner. It’s only a matter of time before someone’s bike is run over. Own a motorcycle and live in College Creek? Either you’re parking at Gist and walking a long way or you park in a dark corner near Facilities that feels totally unsafe and insecure. Creekview? There’s enough space for a single motorcycle. Maybe two if one of them doesn’t want to leave until the other does. Library isn’t too bad if you live in Campus but it feels redundant with the Gist parking so close. It’s also pretty much under the trees so it might only take a windy day to get your mode of transportation completely destroyed by a widowmaker.
You’d think with their smaller size and carbon footprint CPH would be encouraging the use of motorcycles. Add in the fact the university claims to be “sold out” of stickers means you’re spending far more to park since you are now forced to buy a daily pass. It seems like a scam. With that in mind, everything seems to indicate motorcyclists are not only discouraged, but punished at this university.