By SABRINA HUANG
News Copy Editor
The number of available student parking spaces at UHS has increased by a total of 22% from last year as a result of a recent reallocation of parking that was finished in late July.
63 new student parking spots were added, increasing the total number of student-designated parking spaces to 352 and the total number of available parking spaces on campus to 580.
As a result of the re-striping and pressing safety concerns on the part of the administration, the parking lot located under the solar panels, often referred to as the “junior lot,” and the first row of parking spaces closest to the front of the gym will now be designated strictly for staff use. The parking lot near the back of the school behind the 300s building, commonly known as the “senior lot,” and the last four rows of parking spaces in front of the school gym will now be designated mainly for student use.
Previously, the parking lot in front of the gym was set aside mainly for faculty usage, while the other two parking lots were designated for students.
“The whole intent [of re-striping the parking lot] was to clean it up, [to] make it safe and to make sure the students have the maximum amount of parking spots,” Assistant Principal Kris Kough (Admin.) said. “But the biggest reasons were to alleviate what we believe [was] a safety issue out here under the solar panels and to get a better count of our parking spaces so we can have a better allocation of parking spaces for students.”
As a result of the reallocation, about 60% of the parking spaces on campus will be designated for student use, while the other 40% will be granted to faculty and visitor use. Students will only be allowed to park in the white-colored parking spaces, while the school’s faculty members, administrators, janitorial staff, educational aides, parent volunteers and other support staff can only use the 212 gold-colored parking spaces. Visitors will be allowed to park in the 16 green-colored parking spaces currently located in front of the main office.
This also means that the new parking schematic will create two available student parking lots separated by a staff-only parking area. Despite the novelty and inconvenience of this new plan, Kough wants students to understand that it is still possible to maneuver through campus on a regular school day.
“Kids who [try] to park over [in the “senior lot” who] get [to school] late [and] need to flow over [to the parking spaces in front of the gym] can still drive without going out on the street,” Kough said. “They can still maneuver through [campus] to get over to the other lot, [but] they’re just going to be navigating through [here] with people who are coming in to park.”
“We can [try to] manipulate the flow, but anything we’ll do to manipulate it will cause congestion problems or hiccups in other areas.”
Though there has been an increase in the number of parking spaces available, it is unknown how many parking permits will be sold to students in the first semester. The number given out per year is unpredictable and sometimes fluctuates depending on the time of the semester. According to Kough, the administration typically sells another 10% over in addition to the maximum number of permits available.
“Not everyone is here every day and in the rare occasion that we don’t have enough parking spaces… what we’ve done [is] direct the kids to park in the extra teacher spots,” Kough said. “We may not have that safety valve anymore because now we’re selling even more because we’ve appropriately allocated the spaces. It doesn’t mean we won’t let a kid park in a space, but that’s just something we have to grow through the growing pains as we see if our numbers were as accurate as we believed them to be.”
Like years prior, students will also be allowed to park on nearby Rockview Drive if there are no parking spaces on campus available.
However, the administration also wants to let students know that despite the increased number of parking spaces available, students must be responsible for their actions should they decide to buy a permit.
“The bottom line is we just don’t want anyone to get hurt and everyone needs to understand that parking is a privilege,” Kough said. “[If caught violating traffic rules, students will] definitely lose their parking privileges. They’ll lose it for that semester based on their violation.”
Concerns about safety issues have arisen as a result of relatively recent circumstances in Irvine surrounding high school safety. In October of 2013, a 78-year-old resident was fatally struck by a car while walking across Campus Drive from UHS and in October of 2014, five teenage students were killed on Freeway 5 on the way back from Knott’s Berry Farm. According to Kough, a couple of students at Northwood High School were also struck a few years back while sitting on the curb in the school’s parking lot because the driver could not see them over the dashboard.
“We have seriously outgrown our school facility here,” Kough said. “[The] school has grown, the building facilities have grown, but the parking lot has stayed the same.”
“I’m just thankful nothing’s ever happened…we get complacent when nothing ever happens and we [presume that because] there’s never been an accident here [there’s not a problem]. Well we all say that until the first accident.”
The re-striping and re-slurrying of the parking lots were originally scheduled to be completed last summer, but have both been continually pushed back as a result of financial setbacks on a district-wide level. The re-slurrying, or re-paving, of the parking structure will officially be completed next summer.