Estrella Mountain Community College is growing, but the lanes on the parking lots are not. While the completion of the new Performing Arts Center has freed up more parking spaces, it doesn’t solve basic difficulties caused by the bursts of traffic made by the growing number of full-time students.
Every morning and midday passing period is marked by a line of cars clogging the roads, hesitant attempts to pull out of a parking space, botched U-turns, and inconveniently spaced pockets of pedestrians. Combine all that with students pulling in for new classes and stopping traffic to wait for someone to pull out of a desirable spot, and you have the College Parking Lot Experience.
In spite of all this, the EMCC parking lot is up to code—in fact, well above requirements, with 900 more parking spaces than necessary. Randy Naughton, EMCC’s director of facilities planning, said to The Lion’s Perspective in an email, “We currently have about 2,500 parking spaces on campus. Whenever we construct a new building for projected student growth there are formulas used in design for parking. There should be a parking space for every 5 students. FTE [full-time equivalent students] is at about 8,000 so that would equate to 1,600 parking spaces. Of those spaces, 72 are designated ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] parking only. We well exceed the requirements for ADA parking. Estrella has always tried to go well beyond minimums when it comes to ADA accommodation.”
However, while the school is above-standard in the amount of parking spaces available, there are other factors that can make a parking lot difficult to get in and out of. Take the layout of narrow one-way roads and add the hoard of drivers that want to park as close to their class as possible, and conflicts arise.
Lots A and C are two of the most desirable parking lots on school due to their proximity to Montezuma, Estrella, and Komatke Hall, and yet they have the school’s most relatively difficult layout with one-way roads and the inability to pull through parking spaces. Persistent drivers will circle the one-way roads until a spot opens up, creating an artificial traffic that would not exist if everyone gave up after one circle through the one-way lanes.
In defense of the current parking lot, parking is free, and the lots are never overflowing. There are spots available; it’s often just a matter of how far one has to drive to find them. So far no one has to park at nearby locations and cross the street to get to class. Most of the inconveniences can be avoided through personal accommodation. It will have to remain that way, because, as Randy Naughton tells The Lion’s Perspective: “As far as expansion of parking, we are at the end of our bond projects so we won't be adding any new buildings or parking lots in the near future.”
Since the parking lot isn’t going to change, it’s best to learn how to use it effectively. Naughton offered the following advice: “Use the Thomas Rd. exits during busy times versus the Dysart exit. Look in lots G and H [see map] for parking when closer lots appear full. We have enough parking number-wise, but that includes the use of parking lots G/H.”
Here are some more tips for handling the parking lot traffic:
• If you’ve just got out of your last class, chances are you’re not the only one. Hang around and do some homework or go online for ten minutes until the traffic clears, instead of idling in your car at the light for the same amount of time.
• There’s always at least one spot in the far west parking lot (by Ocotillo and Mariposa Hall) and the far northwest parking lot (west of the Public Safety building). If it’s nearing class time, it may be faster to cut your losses and park far away instead of snaking through the one-way lanes trying to find a close spot.
• Find some morning routines you can do when you’re already at school so you can drive to school earlier and save yourself from last-minute parking stress—without having to wake up any earlier! Things like last-minute homework, ritual morning email/Facebook/news browsing, and eating (within reason) can all be easily done after getting to school, without making your morning any longer.
• Remember, things could be worse: we could have GCC’s parking lot.
• Overall, be kind to other drivers! Everyone just wants to go home.