Parking struggle is worsened with spots lost to construction

By Sam Cushing | February 21, 2018 8:38pm
Students who wish to park in campus parking lots need to purchase an "S" parking pass for $75 per year.
Media Credit: Cheyenne Perry / The Beacon

Parking presents a daily challenge for students who drive to the University of Portland. Sophomore Natalie Nygren circled the parking lot for 30 minutes before giving up and driving home to walk four blocks back to campus.

“Any time past about 10 o’clock it’s pretty much impossible to find parking,” Nygren said. “You’re gonna be driving around the parking lot for 30 or 35 minutes sometimes.”

Of the 1,783 parking spots on campus, 161 are reserved for certain faculty members and visitors. 113 spots are on River Campus, and 429 are on streets owned by the city of Portland, according to Gerry Gregg, director of Public Safety. This leaves 1,080 parking spots on campus that require students to purchase a parking pass, not including the 10-12 spots that were just lost to the construction of Dundon Berchtold Hall. This year, 908 students and 1,114 faculty and staff members hold valid parking passes, Gregg said.

 The parking situation recently worsened on campus. In addition to the parking spots lost to construction fencing around the site of Dundon-Berchtold Hall, the curb outside Buckley Center was re-striped last Tuesday. This was to allow more room for construction vehicles to turn, Jim Ravelli, vice president for University Operations, said. The spots are expected to return late this summer.

Nygren has been driving to campus since August 2016, and parking has been a consistent problem.

Adjunct professor of history Chris Foss has experienced a variety of wait times ranging from five to 20 minutes and has had to park off campus before to get to places on time. He sees this as typical, if not better than, other universities he’s been to.

“Wherever I’ve been, there’s always a limited number of spaces and it’s just a matter of preparing,” Foss said.

Students who choose to park on campus can purchase a pass at the Public Safety Office, for $75 per semester. 

Students are able to purchase parking passes for $75 that allow them to park in lots on The Bluff, and in the Franz Lot on River Campus.
by Sam Cushing / The Beacon

“We’re far cheaper than most schools around here,” Gregg said.

UP’s parking permit fee is significantly cheaper than schools like PSU and Lewis and Clark College, both of which charge at least twice what UP does for a student parking pass.

Passes allow students to park their vehicles on campus grounds between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Outside of those hours, parking opens up to anyone. This allows people outside UP, like those attending sporting events, to take spots that would otherwise require a pass. 

However, not just anyone can buy a pass. In general, freshmen are not allowed to buy a parking pass, except in certain cases.

“I don’t allow freshmen to purchase parking permits unless they have some sort of compelling exception,” Gregg said.

Things like off-campus jobs, frequent doctor visits or family situations may warrant a permit, Gregg explained.

Freshmen aren’t the only ones who are restricted from buying passes. The university only allows certain students who live off campus to buy one. 

“If they live in the close-in neighborhood, in easy walking distance, we won’t sell them parking,” Gregg said. “The exclusion zone for students to buy permits is anyone living in the square created by N. McKenna, N. Princeton, N. Olin, and N. Willamette.”

Students who live off-campus within this boundary are unable to purchase parking passes due to their close proximity to campus, according to Director of Public Safety Gerald Gregg.
by Sam Cushing / The Beacon

If students want to park near campus free of charge, they can sign up for an FL (Franz Lot) pass, which allows them to park in the River Campus lot. 

Students are able to acquire Franz Lot parking passes free of charge, which allow them to park in the parking lot on River Campus. There is a shuttle service available to students who choose this option.
by Sam Cushing / The Beacon

Regular hikes up President's Hill would leave students in exceptional physical condition, but for most it's not ideal to show up to class dripping in sweat. The university provides a shuttle service, which began running in October 2016, that ferries students between River Campus and the Pilot House between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. The round trip takes about 10 to 15 minutes. If a student ends up waiting longer than that, Gregg recommends calling Public Safety, who can either call the shuttle or send an officer to pick the student up. Gregg advises students do the same if they park on River Campus outside of shuttle hours.

The Pilot Shuttle is available to cart students to and from the River Campus Franz Lot.
by Cheyenne Perry / The Beacon

Because of the plans to develop River Campus in the next few years, Ravelli said that more parking will likely become available.

“[Parking] will expand pretty rapidly as we get buildings brought online,” Ravelli said. “A lot of that has to do with what the city’s gonna allow us to do… I would expect that within two years we’ll have significant additional parking on [River Campus].”

The streets on the north end of campus near Haggerty and Tyson are owned by the city of Portland, and do not require a parking pass to park on, Gregg explained. If a student regularly parks on these streets however, they are required to register their vehicle with Public Safety.

Students are able to park on public streets near campus without purchasing a parking pass.

In coming years though, students may begin to need a parking pass for these spots, Gregg said. The University is currently in the process of requesting a street vacation, which would give it ownership of some of these streets, and allow it to enforce parking regulations on them. But the process is a long one, and may take anywhere from three to seven years, Ravelli said.