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Feature Stories

City College Parking Problems Persist

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 18
9/6/2013


By Steve Propes

School is in session. Just ask anyone who lives south of Heartwell Park near where Clark Avenue feeds into two streets, namely, Hanbury and Parkcrest.

With the start of the fall semester at Long Beach City College (LBCC) on Monday, August 26, neighbors in this area began firing off emails about off-campus parking by students, which tends to tie up on-street parking spaces as a way of avoiding the payment of $25 for a one semester parking permit.

The email volley began on August 19 when Clark Avenue resident Don Haselroth warned of the upcoming parking crisis as well as “trash, used condoms, empty half pint vodka bottles. Not to mention bicycle riders speeding down sidewalks.”

Two years ago, residents of the area were polled on creating a preferential parking district. Long Beach City College spokesman Mark Taylor indicated there was insufficient support for implementation. Haselroth contends that residents favored a limited district in the block between Clark Avenue and Greenbrier Road from the park to Hanbury Street, however he is not currently advocating for such a district.

Greenbrier Road resident Jackie Buccola opposes a preferential parking district. “Students overflow into our neighborhood, park on the streets, drive carelessly, and leave trash all over. Even with the recent parking lot closure at LBCC the parking in the neighborhood is lighter than it has been in recent years. I never saw a student near this area until Lakewood Village restricted their parking, so we got their spill over.”

The Lakewood Village preferential parking district north of Carson on streets close to LBCC was implemented when the majority of class offerings were taught in the campus north of Carson Street. Because of the 2008 Measure E Bond, much of the campus alignment has changed.

According to Long Beach City College Vice President of Administrative Services Ann-Marie Gabel, the change coincided with the opening of the Clark Avenue parking structure south of Carson Street at a cost of $21.6 million on March 29, 2011.

Taylor noted the structure replaced a surface lot with 600 spaces, adding 300 spaces in the structure to a total of 900. “By mid morning, it’s full every day,” said Taylor. “Spaces open up in the middle of day, then it fills up again in the evening when night classes start. Across the street, we have about 3,000 spaces in Vet’s Stadium, which is heavily used. We have more than enough parking that would accommodate most of our students.”

Fifth District Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske has a different take on the situation. “The taxpayers of Long Beach were told if they agreed to a parcel tax to build a parking structure that things would get better. They didn’t. The only solution to the problem is to have preferential parking if 65% of the residents agree. I will continue to press LBCC to pay for the program.”

Gabel responded that such a payment would amount to an illegal gift of public funds.

Despite the fact that student parking was free for the first week, the Hanbury and Parkcrest neighborhood was still impacted, likely because of many classes that were held just across Clark Avenue south of Carson Street.

“Vet’s Stadium isn’t much further,” Gabel noted. No one seems to know why a few students don’t use student parking. “If I would have to guess, I would say it was the cost,” Gabel offered, though she insisted parking permits at her school are a bargain at $25 a semester and a dollar for one day. “CSULB charges significantly more; $123 a semester and five dollars a day.”

Since 2011, according to Taylor, LBCC has “built classrooms south of Carson, close to both to the new parking structure and to Vet’s Stadium. Business and social sciences have moved south of Carson and math and tech courses will move south of Carson in a couple of years.”

Of the 23,000 students who enrolled at LBCC this semester, about 15,000 are enrolled at the Liberal Arts Campus on Carson Street. “It peaks at the start,” said Taylor. “Once folks are settled in, there is a decline of enrollment halfway through semester.”

According to Gabel, “We hear from Long Beach Transit that a considerable percentage of our students ride public transportation. We are known as big trip generators for them.”

“LBCC needs to be a good neighbor and help with the solution to this on-going problem,” said Schipske. “It isn’t just the parking issue, it is the rude behavior of the students who dump trash and speed down the streets that is disturbing.”

Responding to the trash issue, Gabel said, “They do the same thing on campus. Our students are adults. Our average age is in the mid to late 20s. We hope adults are going to be adults and know their manners. We share the frustrations.”

steve@longbeachcomber.com