GCC students and staff are again forced to deal with the problem of parking as a new semester begins. Jam-packed parking lots and students driving around in their cars searching for available space have been a common sight in Student Parking Lots B, 30, 31 and 34 since fall classes started on Sept. 6.
The lack of parking spaces for students has been worsened this semester by the ongoing construction of a $26 million dollar parking structure in Upper Parking Lot B, which has taken away 400 parking spaces from students since last spring. Administration worked to alleviate the problem by shifting those spaces to other lots or through the stacked parking system.
Fire technology major Stanley Woo said that the parking situation was “bad” on the first day of school.
“I arrived at 7 [a.m.] and started looking for parking in the complex [along Verdugo Road],” said Woo. “It was already full, so I drove up to Lot B. It took 20 minutes before I got to park.”
Woo added that for the first few days, he and his friends would come to school as early as 7 a.m. so that they could find parking spaces and avoid being late for class, even if it meant waiting in their cars until their classes began at 9:30.
However, college police spokesperson Nidal Kobaissi said that parking has been “pretty good” during the first few days of the fall semester.
“It has been good, especially with the stacked parking,” said Kobaissi, referring to the parking system in which lot attendants assist students in finding available spaces in Lot B and park the students’ cars for them when the lot is full.
“It’s just that some students are not aware of the [stacked parking] system. Most of them want to park in the complex across campus on Verdugo. Even when it’s full, they’d rather wait there [for an available space].”
Kobaissi said that returning students were already familiar with the stacked parking; it was the new students who were unaware of the system. In anticipation of this problem, campus police asked lot attendants to distribute fliers containing parking information to students as they came into the lot.
He said that all student lots were completely filled up only on Thursday, Sept. 7, and again on Monday, Sept. 11, at around 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on both days.
“We have not yet reached full [parking] capacity, except for two hours”, said Kobaissi.
He also added, “those were the toughest times to find parking.”
Director of Business Services, Bill Taylor, added that this semester’s first-day parking situation was “not much different” from the last few semesters.
“Students were hunting and waiting for spaces, but it was the same last fall,” said Taylor. “Parking is adequate for our current enrollment.”
According to Taylor, more spaces are available for students along Verdugo Ave. since the City of Glendale agreed to honor GCC parking permits for public parking spaces.
Vice President of Administrative Services Larry Serot said that the college actually has more parking spaces for students this semester than it did in the spring.
The construction of the $16 million dollar Allied Health Building has also partly caused the loss of a few more parking spaces for staff and faculty. Work on the building has been delayed by “manpower and construction methods,” according to Taylor. The project is expected to be completed by the middle of spring 2007 and will house the graphic arts and nursing programs.
“We’re two to three weeks behind schedule,” Taylor said. He attributed this to several problems, including inadequate manpower, poor soil conditions and over-excavation on the part of the construction company working on the building.
However, Taylor emphasized that parking was “not affected” by the delay in construction. “It only took away a few spaces,” he said, referring to the loss of the G lot and part of the F lot behind the cafeteria and library buildings. This area was cordoned off and installed with temporary stairs in the summer to allow passage for students up to Lot B.
Serot added that the loss of those parking spaces was not due to the construction of the Allied Health building, but more because of the construction of the elevator tower that will transport students from campus to the future parking structure.
Staff and faculty have been asked to park off campus since the spring. They are taken by a shuttle system to and from various parking lots in Glendale. According to Kobaissi, there is a current shortage of around 35 parking spaces for staff and faculty.
However, the collective sacrifice will be rewarded as the parking situation is expected to improve drastically with the completion of the six-story parking structure in July 2007, according to Taylor. The structure will have a total of 1160 stalls, guaranteeing a net gain of 850 new spaces.
Kobaissi said that even now, there are enough parking spaces for the students. “Students need to know that parking is available,” he said.
Serot also assures students that the parking situation will “ease up” after another week.
“The first two or three weeks of school have always been a problem,” said Serot. “But after the first few weeks, things settle down and everyone should be able to find parking.”