By ANDY ZHOU
For more information, see: “Student drivers frustrated with lack of available parking spaces,” by Aishee Das.
UHS parking permits are sold by the semester, so students must renew their right to park each spring. Each year, this second round of parking permits causes problems, as, throughout the first semester, more students have gotten licenses and wish to start driving themselves to school, but the UHS parking lot does not have the capacity to accommodate all of these cars. This year, the problem has reached an all-time high.
The parking situation has led to the arrival of many new policies and stricter enforcement of parking permits. Last week, Assistant Principal Michael Georgino (Admin.) sent an email to parents regarding the new parking policy, warning that campus security, administration and the Irvine Police Department (IPD) would be taking action against those parking on school property without permits.
The email said that the school administration was “going to apply other consequences for first time and repeat offenders such as: putting warning stickers on side windshields, issuing parking tickets and towing cars.” Yet those consequences are often unfairly applied. On Friday, with no warning, I was given a parking citation for parking on campus without a permit as a first time offender. Although the citation was justified, it is unfair that punishment seems to be arbitrarily administered, and whether you receive a warning or a citation is left up to chance.
UHS staff and administration have proposed solutions such as walking or biking to school, being dropped off or parking away from campus. Walking or biking to school is simply impractical for many students. It is unrealistic to expect students to endure the incoming spring and summer heat while carrying backpacks loaded with textbooks and other school supplies. In an academically focused school such as UHS,where bringing your textbooks to and from school is the norm, it is unreasonable for administration to recommend this option. Furthermore, with anxiety, stress and lack of sleep being common problems for students, making them walk or bike to and from school would only exacerbate this issue. It is impractical to make students give up an extra hour or two of sleep from an already rest-deprived schedule. If keeping students happy and healthy is truly a priority for the staff at UHS, then expecting them to walking or biking to school is not a viable solution.
Being dropped off seems to be one of the better ideas, but it, too, has issues. Many students have to shuttle themselves to and from school due to conflicts between their parents’ schedules and the that of the school. Judy Kam (Sr.), one student who faces this issue, said, “I live 25 minutes away from school, which makes biking or walking to school not an option. There are no bus stops or stations near my home, and my mom attends English classes at IVC in the morning, which makes driving to school my only option.” This is a common situation, especially in an affluent community such as Irvine, where having both parents work is the status quo. Finding and organizing rides to school is not a bad choice, but the administration should consider that for many students, this is simply impossible.
Having students park away from campus also fails address the issue. Parking off or away from campus compounds the continuing issue of tardiness at UHS because it forces students to take additional time to walk to their classes. Further, the only possible options for student parking off of or away from campus is the apartment community and the hill behind UHS. The apartment community has always been off-limits to student parking and numerous signs throughout the neighborhood claim that non-permitted parked cars can and will be towed. The hill parking area that UHS administration has suggested is absurd; it has twenty or fewer parking spaces available, but administration claimed last week that it found 91 cars parked on campus without a parking permit. If this is true, then it would be impossible for all of the students without parking permits to find a place to park off campus.
The current parking situation is not sustainable. Fortunately for freshmen, sophomores and juniors, the overpopulation of the parking lot should not be nearly as big of an issue next year thanks the opening of Portola High School. Many UHS students will filter into Portola, which will free up space in the parking lot. A possible immediate solution for the parking dilemma is for administration to begin the school day at a later time, so that students will have time to pick each other up for carpools or to walk or bike to school without interfering with their sleep schedules.