This Thursday, we’re throwing it back to 25 years ago when Opinion – formerly known as Viewpoint – columnist Rebecca Stone listed parking options of varying inconvenience for her readers and explained UCLA’s complicated history with parking. From UCLA’s first parking lot in 1933 to a Daily Bruin article earlier that year claiming the university was growing at a rate that would soon require shuttles to herd students from their cars to class, Stone described UCLA’s inability to address its parking problem as demand exponentially grew.
“Before we can get on with the daily business of dealing with priority concerns, we must first find a place to park,” she concluded.
While the relationship between the university’s limited parking options and limited scope of priorities is tenuous at best, parking remains an obstacle in ensuring UCLA is an accessible public university. Parking is consistently difficult, if not impossible, to find, even for commuters, who make up a little over 25 percent of UCLA’s student body and are its biggest money-savers; after all, they can save thousands in rent, despite the hours lost traveling back and forth.
And while UCLA Transportation has developed options over the years, like the BruinBus and the UCLA Vanpool, and the Los Angeles City Council recently approved a citywide mobility plan, both promising to make your car less necessary, the battle for parking between faculty, staff, emeriti, volunteers, patients, visitors and, last of all – in both esteem and priority – students continues.
In short, parking problems at UCLA not only persist, but have only worsened since Stone wrote her column. The hustle of the students who left class early to avoid parking enforcement or made the hike from Westwood to campus in 1990 is nothing compared to the time and money students lose in the pursuit of parking today.
With week one in full swing, parked cars once again populate the space between the street and the sidewalk, even though their owners have risked and received $65 parking tickets in the past. In her column, Stone admitted that sometimes her $18 parking tickets – around $33 if you consider inflation – were a relief from constantly filling the meter with quarters.
Students with cars outnumber available parking spaces in and around campus and are engaged in bidding wars online for parking passes, street parking and even the dreaded tandem spaces. In Stone’s time, students shelled out $4 a day in Westwood’s lots or a quarter every eight minutes for metered parking spaces. But today, you can find quarterly parking permits going for up to $400 and rented residential parking spots for around $100 a month in UCLA’s Free & For Sale Facebook group.
Earlier this year, the Daily Bruin Editorial Board called for cheaper parking permits. Most recently, nearly 1,000 students who applied for parking passes on campus were waitlisted after UCLA cut the number of student parking permits by hundreds. Even commuter students who are fortunate enough to obtain a nearly $700 permit for the year from UCLA Transportation aren’t guaranteed to find a space once they make their way to campus.
Of course, there are only so many parking spaces UCLA can provide before it begins dominating the Westwood skyline or disrupting the Earth’s core, but the campus’ growth demands better planning, even retroactively.
Otherwise students might as well stay on the 405, catnap through the 9 a.m. traffic and crawl right past UCLA. No one goes to their morning classes anyway.
- Catherine Liberty Feliciano