UC Merced has enrollment increase; parking concerns

MERCED, Calif.

Action news North Valley reporter Sara Sandrik has the challenges many are facing, and how the university is responding. Students say there are simply not enough parking spaces.

UC Merced Student Luis Galvez said, "Even by 9 or 10 it's already full over here, so we have to find parking pretty far away."

Some leave their cars in the dirt along Lake Road, leading homeowners in the area to put "no parking" signs on their property. And last fall, the campus doubled fines from 25 to 50 dollars for not having a valid permit and meter violations.

UC Merced Student Francisco Rodriguez said, "Luckily for me I work two jobs. It's unfortunate that's where my money goes, but if I forget my wallet I do have to pay the consequences."

UC Spokesperson Brenda Ortiz says a committee of students, faculty, and staff made the decision to increase the fines, and that money will be used to add more parking options.

Ortiz said, "Our parking is not supported by state funds, so it's all self-supporting. So it's important as we grow to have revenue to build more parking, expand our parking, possibly even parking structures in the future."

Most freshmen who live on campus are not allowed to park here, so they and others who live off campus rely on the university's bus system instead. But many students say the routes can take up to two hours, and the buses are often filled to capacity.

UC Merced Student Maria Mora said, "Sometimes it's like there's 20-30 people trying to get on the bus, but the limit is 10 so then they have to wait for the next bus or go home."

Ortiz says the university has added buses and extra routes, and officials are always working to meet the students' needs as the campus continues to grow.

"Every year we're adding between 400 and 600 students plus faculty and staff, so we know there are concerns over parking, it's not just students it's also our faculty and staff as well," Ortiz said.

UC Merced also points out its parking fines are somewhere in the middle when compared to other colleges and universities.

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