Fed up with a lack of parking in their neighborhoods, homeowners near Bakersfield College successfully petitioned the City Council to expand parking permit requirements in those areas, much to the frustration of struggling college students.
The decision, which was made in December but begins taking effect Monday, restricts parking on the west side of campus in front of 26 homes, and also requires permits in front of 16 homes and a 52-unit complex for seniors on the east side of campus.
Permits would be given to residents living in those neighborhoods for free and required between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“This is a common practice you see in other cities, especially around college campuses,” said Christopher Gerry, an administrative analyst in the Bakersfield city manager’s office, adding that the city has been collaborating with BC on the program since October 2015.
Despite how common it is, students who have parked in the residential neighborhoods for free to avoid paying for a $40 on-campus permit good for one semester are expressing frustration.
“My tuition fees were $400 today, too. Now I gotta drop even more money on books and a parking pass. What's next?” Mike Serda commented on Bakersfield College’s Facebook page.
Other students complained about a lack of parking on campus, calling on BC to build a parking structure more conveniently located to classrooms. Kern Community College District spokesman Joe Grubbs refuted the lack of parking and called the $40 permit cost “a bargain.” Cal State Bakersfield charges its students $93 per semester.
“There’s a ton of parking. Students just don’t want to use it and don’t want to pay the fee. There’s ample parking over in the southwest parking lot below the baseball fields and on any given day that parking lot is maybe one-third at most used,” Grubbs said.
But students say those lots are far removed from classrooms.
“The parking lots are just not big enough. If you arrive after 8 a.m., the lots are full. If given a choice between parking a mile away in a BC parking lot or closer on the street, students will choose closer. Why would we pay for a parking permit if we can park closer on the street? Build a parking garage,” James Weddell said on Facebook.
College officials say they’re trying to strike a balance between student convenience and being good neighbors to those living in surrounding homes.
The decision was driven by residents, who complained not only about impacted parking in front of houses but also littered streets they blamed on college students, Gerry said.
“I think it's fair for the residents who live on the streets surrounding the college. I almost got fined by the city last year for the trash that students leave in our yard, on the street in front of our house, and in our alley. A couple weeks ago I picked up a styrofoam cup that had what looked like vomit in it. People park in front of the hydrant near our house, too,” Coral Lynn Thunberg said on The Californian’s Facebook page.
Others said on Facebook that the permitting area should have been extended further, south of campus to Duke Drive.