University parking reaches limit
With no plans for expansion, transportation department officials suggest alternatives
For those who have a car on Grounds, finding a convenient and affordable parking space is a daily concern. Student enrollment has increased in recent years, creating a higher demand for parking spaces. A point of contention among faculty, students and administrative officials is whether the University’s current capacity for parking is appropriate given increasingly strong demand.
By the numbers
“We are developing programs in hopes of absorbing the population growth without necessarily increasing the auto population.”
—Parking and Transportation Director Rebecca White
Rebecca White, director of Parking and Transportation, said her department works hard to reconcile the growing demand for parking spaces with the desire to keep Grounds a pedestrian-friendly area.
“There are about 18,800 parking spaces on Grounds,” White said. “Approximately 2,300 of those spaces are intended for patients and visitors and do not require the purchase of an annual permit. Of the remaining 16,500, most require the purchase of a permit.”
White said the price of the permits varies depending on the location on Grounds.
“Low-cost commuter parking at U-Hall, available to students who live off Grounds, costs $18 per month,” White said. “Low-cost storage parking on the top deck of the Emmet/Ivy Garage, available to residents of University housing, also costs $18 per month. On-site dorm parking, available to students living in that dorm, costs $40 per month.”
White also said her department offers “occasional parker” permits, sold in packs of five. She said the price of the permits depends on the daily rate of the lot.
During fiscal year 2013, University Police wrote 23,198 citations for parking violations.
“We have a warning citation policy which waives the fine for the first citation with a fine under $100 written in 12 months,” White said. “Due to that policy, of the 23,198 citations written, 11,044, or 47 percent, had zero fines due.”
White said that though there are no current plans to increase parking capacity on Grounds, Parking and Transportation has been working to find other solutions to make transit at the University successful and easy. They hope to develop alternative solutions to accommodate the growing student and faculty population in the coming years.
“We are developing programs in hopes of absorbing the population growth without necessarily increasing the auto population,” White said. “For example, UTS provides frequent bus service through adjacent neighborhoods, a U.Va. ID allows a free ride on Charlottesville Area Transit, we have Zipcar available, carpool incentives, bike and pedestrian improvements, et cetera.”
“Most colleges do not charge their faculty for parking, but U.Va. is an exception.”
— English Prof. Rennie Mapp
Faculty members have expressed different opinions on the parking situation.
Spencer Phillips, economist and adjunct professor at the University said as an adjunct professor, he doubted he was entitled to any parking privileges, but that his experience had still been positive.
“I pull right up to the front door of Monroe Hall, lock my bike to the rack and I’m good to go,” Phillips said. “I rarely have use of or need for a car, but when I do, I just use the paid lot under the bookstore.”
English Prof. Rennie Mapp said even using the bus system had raised some time and cost concerns.
“For a while, I parked at U-Hall and rode the bus to Grounds to save money,” Mapp said. “That was very time-consuming, and not cheap. Most colleges do not charge their faculty for parking, but U.Va. is an exception.”
White said her department determines who receives a spot in reserved lots on a first come, first serve basis.
“There is no distinction for faculty versus staff,” White said. “Many reserved lots are sold out and waiting lists are maintained.”
“[Parking and Transportation officials] increase prices on student permits every year. Their sort of long term goal is to reduce car usage on Grounds. Ideally they would like to push all of the parking out to the perimeter.”
— Chris Collins, co-chair of the Student Council’s Building and Grounds Committee
For many students, finding affordable parking for their cars on Grounds is a constant struggle.
Second-year College student Jonathan Riggle said living in Bice, he has had varied success in finding good parking.
“If you don’t having a parking permit, you either have to park on Brandon Avenue or [Jefferson Park Avenue],” Riggle said. “And sometimes those fill up during the week. I did not get a permit, because it is so expensive.”
Riggle said students with cars who forgo buying a permit face a tradeoff between saving money and having to walk a long way to legally park their cars.
“It’s better not to have to pay for the permit and have to park far away every once in awhile,” Riggle said.
Third-year Engineering student Chris Collins, co-chair of the Student Council’s Building and Grounds Committee and student representative of the University’s Parking and Transportation Committee, said the high prices of permit parking for students is part of an effort to reduce overall automobile usage on Grounds.
“They increase prices on student permits every year,” Collins said. “Their sort of long term goal is to reduce car usage on Grounds. Ideally they would like to push all of the parking out to the perimeter.”
Collins said another long-term goal would be to make the entire McCormick Road area pedestrian. He said such a project would be 10 to 20 years in the future.
Collins said the Building and Grounds Committee works to pinpoint areas where students are having difficulty obtaining parking and try to find a solution for them.
“Every student wants to be able to park near their dorm or wherever they are going,” Collins said.
Collins also said members of his committee have been able to secure a few more spaces for students along Jefferson Park Avenue in the past few years and are currently working to obtain increased parking in the 14th Street area.
The parking debate has not only provoked discourse among undergraduate students, but among graduate students as well.
First-year Law student Morgan Lingar said, because most law students do not live close to Central Grounds, they need to drive if they want to visit that area. She said this causes some law students to spend more time on North Grounds than they might otherwise.
“I think especially for those who are at the Law School or at Darden, it really has a barrier to being present on main Grounds,” Lingar said.
Though most events for Law students take place separately on North Grounds, Linger said it would be positive for the different schools at the University to mix more. She said increased parking spaces on Central Grounds would help facilitate this.
“I do think it would be really positive for the University community in general,” Lingar said.
Riggle said, as the parking situation stands, people just have to make the best of the situation.
“Essentially, parking at U.Va., if you don’t want to pay for such an expensive pass, you just have to be smart about it,” Riggle said.
White said the claims about there being too little parking on Grounds really depend upon where people would like to park and how much they would like to spend.
“We find daily — and significant — availability in the Central Grounds Garage, Emmet/Ivy Garage, Culbreth Garage, U-Hall area, etc., but these areas are sometimes viewed as too expensive or too remote,” White said. “The programs that have been developed for those who do not want to have a car have big strengths.”