Katie Fenton, Online Reporter
It seems like a widely-accepted truth that parking at Pierce can be a nightmare. From about 9 a.m. to noon, cars prowl around campus in search of parking. Some drivers will even follow students just released from class as they walk to their car; but lately, more drivers have been parking in non-parking zones.
In a recent survey conducted by The Puyallup Post, 62 percent of students said they’ve struggled to find parking. Nineteen percent of these students also said they’ve parked in the non-parking zones on campus, which include the grass on the side of the road and the areas painted with yellow stripes in the A lot. These areas block off access to fire hydrants and walkways.
“Even when I’m here four to seven hours early, I struggle finding decent parking,” one student said in the survey.
The limited parking has caused some students to park in the non-parking zones, where they’re subject to a $5 fine. Parking in front of a fire hydrant is a $10 fine.
Chris MacKersie, director of safety and security, said parking is usually at capacity during the morning and gets better as the quarter progresses, but the college is looking at possible solutions.
“We’ve been engaged in having somebody come in and do a parking study to help us (plan) for new parking,” MacKersie said. “It’s in progress, but there’s no immediate solution.”
There’s an estimated 1250 parking spots at the Puyallup campus, MacKersie said. This includes those reserved for employees, visitors, carpools, vanpools, disabled and special needs vehicles, low emissions vehicles, motorcycles and service vehicles. Campus safety and facilities department are aware of the parking problem and are trying to get funding for additional parking.
Student Calvin Gilkey said the college should construct parking lots similar to those of Westfield Southcenter mall in Seattle.
“They have towering parking,” Gilkey said. “I think it’d be more convenient and safer. Or they could just have a contract with Uber and add the Uber fee into tuition.”
There are many creative solutions to this issue, but it’s difficult for the college to receive funding for parking lots.
“It’s not easy,” MacKersie said. “More than likely the college will have to self fund it. If we show the state there’s demand for more parking, they normally only fund (it) if you’re getting a new building. So we have to take it out of our existing operations funds, and that’s tough to do when we want to buy new equipment and invest in new programs.”
Without constructing new parking lots, it’s unlikely that more parking can be added at the Puyallup campus.
“At Fort Steilacoom, we have long parking rows when you can park on each side, but they’re angled,” MacKersie said. “The closer they get to 90 degrees dramatically increases the number of cars we can get in there. That’s essentially how the Puyallup campus is laid out for absolute maximum efficiency.”
When parking is scarce, there are still plenty of alternatives to driving alone and hoping to find a spot. Students have the option of carpooling, taking the bus, riding a bicycle, getting dropped off or walking. If more students decided to implement any of these solutions, there would most likely be an increase in available parking. Students can also leave earlier in the day to find better parking.
Campus safety officers are more lenient with where students choose to park when parking is at capacity, MacKersie said.
“During fall quarter we see the worst of that (parking at capacity),” MacKersie said. “We have people parking of the side of the road, which essentially, so long as they’re not causing a life safety hazard, then we do allow folks to get a little bit creative.”
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost