As GCC embarks on a massive construction project this spring to relieve the parking shortage faced by students, staff members are left bearing the burden of a parking problem of their own.
Construction of the multimillion dollar parking structure is set to begin on Monday, but the structure that is designed to alleviate parking problems is stirring up new problems on campus.
The new parking structure, which cost the college an estimated $25,000,129, according to the Glendale College Master Plan/Measure G Review, will be located on the site of Lot B, on the hill above the college.
The multi-story structure, which will add 850 new spaces may come at a cost to GCC staff members who will be losing access to Lot 32.
GCC has tried to accommodate the students, who will lose 350 spaces on Lot B due to construction, by opening the staff lot to students in order to alleviate some of the parking problems that may result due to construction. Giving students full access to lot 32 will give GCC students an additional 44 parking spaces.
The staff, which currently uses Lot 32, located across the street from campus, will be shuttled back and forth from campus from a designated locations throughout the community.
Stacked parking will also be utilized in Lots 30, 31, 32, 34 and what remains in Lot B in order to relieve the parking shortage. This method of parking allows parking attendants to help students find space and park multiple cars behind those cars already parked in marked spaces.
According to Nidal Kobaissi, Specialist of the Office of the Chief in the GCC Police Department, students who park in stacked parking must leave their keys with the attendants and must pick up their keys before 4:30 p.m. each day.
Stacked parking has frequently been used during periods when parking is in high demand as is the case in the first weeks of school and when the civic auditorium parking structure is closed.
Utilizing stacked parking will generally increase the available parking by 20 percent, said Kobaissi.
It seems that parking is a major issue this semester, particularly in April with several scheduled parking structure closures. On Wednesday, the Civic Auditorium parking structure will be closed from noon to 10 p.m. and students will be directed to Lot 31 where they can park from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. On April 24, the parking structure will be closed from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on April 27 Lot 31 will be closed from noon to 10 p.m.
Despite the upcoming parking closures, the college insists that students will not lose any parking throughout the duration of the project as the college tries its best to accommodate current students while planning for the needs of future GCC students.
With student parking taking priority, staff members are now facing a parking shortage as members of the classified and classified management staff are losing their parking spaces in order to free up more spaces for students.
This new plan to shuttle support staff back and forth is stirring some heated debate and elevating tensions between the union, governance committees and staff members who feel they are being unfairly targeted.
The plan requires 125 staff members to park off campus and be shuttled to and from campus everyday at the risk of being late for work and not being compensated for the inconvenience of spending extra time waiting for the shuttle.
The decision was not well received by staff members impacted by the alternate parking plan who feel that their voices were not well represented by the unions during the decision- making process.
This issue is causing divisions amongst faculty members, staff and those selected to represent them at a time when the college is facing a major period of transition and growth.
The college is caught between a rock and a hard place as it tries to improve conditions for students while attempting to accommodate staff.
“Our decisions have been seemingly perfect thus far, and they are in line with our institutional ideal of keeping students first,” said Professor Michael Dulay, assistant chair of the Division of Social Sciences, of GCC’s plan to build the parking structure in order to meet the growing demand. “However, we may have been negligent in our consideration of the impact that parking also has on the staff who work at the college.”
The bitter controversy over the new parking arrangements may have been fostered by the college’s abrupt decision to reassign parking to classified staff members only, but the root of the problem is embedded in the staff’s relations with the representatives of their union.
“Building a parking lot takes a long time to plan,” said Hoover Zariani. “However, the planning for alternative parking seems to have happened just that way overnight.”
The tensions ignited by the college’s most recent decision may come as a shock to some, but anger seems to be growing amongst staff members who believe the decision was unjust and not well thought out, for themselves, the college and the students.
Tuesday’s faculty meeting served as a forum for staff members to voice their concerns about this hot button issue.
Concessions were made in order to satisfy the interests of staff members.
According to Larry Serot, a third shuttle will be added to accommodate staff parked off-campus from 6:15-7:30 p.m. and they would have an additional 20-minute grace period for the shuttle.
If tensions persist, the college is facing 15 months of bitter resentment and discord amongst its staff, faculty and governance bodies.