by Brad Butterfield
Total revenue for Cal Poly Humboldt’s parking services stands at $942,513.09 in parking permit fees and $236,564.81 in parking fines and forfeitures for the Fall 2022- Spring 2023 semesters, thus far. A grand total of 2,137 parking spaces with nearly 6,000 students enrolled this fall, makes parking on campus a carefully coordinated charade for students commuting to campus. With a negligible number of additional students enrolled this fall compared to last fall, and a thousands less than the university’s enrollment number of nearly 9,000 in 2015, parking on campus is not a new issue. Pending infrastructure projects, funded by the university’s recent transition to become California’s third polytechnic university, promise more parking spaces in the near future. However, the current parking problem persists as a daily frustration for many Lumberjacks.
Students are fed up with the lack of parking options, particularly after spending $157.50 per semester for a parking pass.
“It’s a mess. I feel like I’ve spent a lot of money on my parking pass to not be verified. And I’m always late to class trying to find a parking spot. So it’s kind of frustrating,” said Jada Willis, a third year psychology major.
Likewise, third year art major Somerset Dwyer is annoyed with the daily scrimmage for a parking spot.
“I think it’s really silly,” Dwyer said. “I have a parking pass but half the time I can’t find parking on campus and then have to pay for a meter.”
The lack of parking on campus directly affects students’ ability to succeed academically.
“My first year here, I had a parking permit and half the time if I couldn’t find parking.” Dwyer said. “I would just skip class because it was super frustrating to find it.”
Importantly, parking on campus is not always an issue. It comes down to timing. Essentially, any weekday between 8:00am and 5:00pm, you’re unlikely to have an easy go of locating an available spot. Still, one always has the option to enjoy less pillow time and leave earlier, as computer science major Jaztin Marasigan pointed out.
“It’s really hard to find parking within certain hours,” Marasigan said. “But if you come early, like if you can get an early class, get morning classes, you’re definitely finding a spot.
Everybody has something here at noon. That’s when you’re gonna have difficulty parking.
It’s a skill issue. You know what I mean? Like, okay… come early.”
While an early departure is an option for some, it is inconvenient and undesirable for most.
“I skipped a shower two mornings in a row just to get parking here,” said senior Tim Skaggs.
In the near future, multiple, multi-million dollar infrastructure projects promise to bring more parking spaces to Cal Poly Humboldt. The Library Circle Student Housing, Health Center, Dining and Parking Facility (total project budget $175 million, planned opening August 2026) is slated to add 500 parking spots. The Campus Apartments Housing and Parking Facility (total project budget $110m, planned opening Summer 2027) should add 500 new parking spots.
Assuming there are no construction delays, Cal Poly Humboldt will have 1000 new parking spots by Summer 2027.
It remains to be seen whether these new spaces will be enough to ease parking difficulties at Cal Poly Humboldt. With the school aiming to increase enrollment to 7,000 by the fall semester of 2024, it’s difficult to imagine that parking on campus will be an effortless endeavor anytime soon.
Importantly, there will be some casualties along the road to more parking on-campus. The new infrastructure projects are set to be built where the ceramics and sculpture labs, Bret Harte House, Campus Apartments, Warren House and ‘Building 20’ currently stand. Regarding the planned relocations of the to-be-torn-down labs, the university states on their ‘Future Infrastructure Projects’ webpage that: “Ceramic and Sculpture Labs will need to be addressed in long term planning. The Feasibility study for this project has yet to begin. And general scope is still being developed.”
A statement released from the university’s director of news & information, Aileen Yoo, on Sept. 19 reads “With significant infrastructure projects such as these, plans are often fluid. Based on the completed feasibility study for this project, the Ceramics and Sculpture labs will be relocated to Jenkins Hall, which is also being remodeled.”
The same press release details potential plans for an off-campus parking lot, or ‘surface parking’ for ‘about 1000 stalls’ in lieu of an on campus parking facility.
“Parking structures are extremely expensive and such an investment should only be considered when all other cost-effective and sustainable transportation options have been implemented,” Yoo said via press release.
The off-campus location for said parking lot is still undecided, but is planned to include bike parking and a shuttle service.
Cal Poly Humboldt’s transportation and parking services department declined to interview regarding the current parking situation and future parking options.
Future, grandiose structures – or surface structures – yet unbuilt and/or unpaved, the reality remains that students pay $157.50 per semester for a parking pass that doesn’t ensure a parking spot.
“I feel like it should be kind of guaranteed parking. But, it seems like, you know, even if you pay for that you don’t really you don’t get the full benefits of the amount you’re paying for just because you don’t always get the parking that you need,” said wildlife conservation major Justin Salazar.
The planned infrastructure projects promise additional parking space but will also lead to the demolition of some of the school’s oldest buildings.
“I’m taking sculpture right now, and I know that they’re tearing down the sculpture and ceramics studios to build parking lots and more buildings,” said Dwyer before adding. “That doesn’t seem like a solution either. It’s taking away lots of resources from the school and from the students. But obviously, more parking is needed.”