Most days, Olga Valenzuela can’t find a place to park her car on her own street.

She’s owned her home south of University Avenue near Bakersfield College for 15 years, but has never seen as many students parking in her neighborhood as she has this year, she said.

“Me and my husband, we don’t know what to do anymore,” Valenzuela said, lamenting over broken pop-up sprinklers reckless students have busted when opening car doors, others who traipse over her lawn, riling up her two little dogs, and the increase in traffic in the neighborhood.

Her daughter, Sabrina Medina, says there’s so many cars parked along the street that it’s turned the two-way stop on Occidental Street and Duke Drive into a blind corner.

“It’s like playing Russian Roulette,” Medina said.

So Valenzuela is doing the only thing she can think to put a stop to it all: petitioning the city to create a parking district in her neighborhood.

To qualify, she must secure signatures from 80 percent of the homeowners on her block, according to Christopher Gerry, an administrative analyst in the Bakersfield city manager’s office.

“The onus is really on the neighbors to gather the signatures,” Gerry said.

The designation means only homeowners can park in the area between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.  They receive a sticker to place in their window.

The situation has worsened since last spring when the city expanded an existing permitted parking only zone in residential areas near Panorama Drive and Haley Street, Valenzuela said. But that hasn’t seemed to spur students to purchase $45 per semester parking passes, even though there’s ample parking in the district’s lot on campus south of the baseball diamonds.

Instead, they’re just parking in other neighborhoods that don’t have restricted parking.

“I don’t want to buy the pass,” said BC student Gamaliel Guzman, who parks his car across the street in Valenzuela’s neighborhood most days.

Guzman can do a lot with $45, like pay bills, buy school books, supplies and food, he said. And on a McDonald's salary, he’s scrimping where he can.

But others, like Marco Avila, who parks his silver Saturn decked out with suicide doors in the campus lot, says that $45 is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that your car is in a secure lot.

And it keeps homeowners like Valenzuela happy. She’s had issues with college students moving her trash cans so they can park. When that happens, refuse workers won’t pick up the garbage, Valenzuela said. Other times, students block her driveway and litter her yard with trash.

She’s begun posting up signs on her lawn ordering passersby to “keep off the lawn.”

But even as she was griping about the lack of respect among college kids Wednesday, a student wearing a backwards ball cap, a pair of headphones and talking on his iPhone went bopping along across her yard.

Harold Pierce covers education and health for The Californian. He can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter @RoldyPierce

(1) comment


I have been attending BC for 18 years on and off. Working for 10 years after my first semester, then returning after I was no longer physically able to do that work any longer. In 2009 I returned and not much seemed to have changed other than registering via computer instead of touchstone phone. I made it through 3 semesters, and am trying now to complete my sophomore year at age 35. I had 8 surgeries between 2010 and 2015, I continued to try enrolling and finishing multiple times, then had to drop out for another procedure, stopping schooling in 2013. I have seen a far greater change in attitude and sense of entitlement over these nearly 4 years than i did in a decade of change prior. When overhearing students now, the most common words I tend to hear are "free", "give", and "deserve". I think the parking pass should likely be means tested in someway, or included in the financial aid packages if it's not already with the $45 being pocketed. Students should not be allowed to essentially vandalize and inconvenience an entire neighborhood. If parking passes are free, tuition rises faster. If they can be subsidized partially or entirely(by BC), there is extra revenue and citizens don't have their private property trampled, broken, and disrespected. It seems a pretty simple fix. However, I have heard so many students saying parking should be free, that if the administration tries to compromise, I fear the loudest voices will be calling for free parking rather than appreciating the efforts. Just through one and a half weeks, I have heard more talk from teens about what is owed to them or what should and should not have to be paid for than in the entirety of the rest of my time at BC. I realize I am painting with a broad brush and I really don't mean to, and don't want to insult any of the students who put their head down, do the work and keep their thoughts on bettering their futures through achievement and not entitlement. I really hope the rezoning goes through and quickly. I certainly wouldn't want my lawn trampled, trash uncollected or extra dumped on the lawn or flower beds, and I doubt those students, if tggey ever owned a home would want people doing to them what they are doing to others.

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