Science Center Construction Increases Parking Closures

With a 13 percent reduction of parking, SAC students and faculty are struggling to find space for their cars. / Claire Ortiz / el Don

Honking horns, road rage and hours of wasted gas used to be typical on a Southern California freeway. Now, it’s just another day at Santa Ana College.

Since 2014, students and employees struggle to find parking in a campus already cramped for space.

When construction began four years ago, there were 2,980 parking spaces throughout campus. There are now about 2,600 available spots — a 13 percent drop — to accommodate about 20,000 students and 3,200 working staff.

“It takes about an hour sometimes, unless you get really, really lucky – then, it is like 25 to 30 minutes to get a parking spot,” said third year SAC student Janet Leon about the difficulty of finding parking on SAC’s main campus.

Available parking behind Middle College, which dropped over 60 percent following installation of construction fences, and Dunlap Hall experienced significant losses. Students and staff cannot access this parking until the new science center and Johnson Center are completed many years from now, as contractors will share this space, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Facility Planning Carri Matsumoto said.

The SAC Facilities Committee anticipates about 125 parking spots to be available once construction fencing is reorganized later this summer

Purchased for $5 million in 2014 as a staff parking area, development plans for the empty lot on Bristol and 17th streets are on hold. Construction contractors will continue to use the corner through 2020-2021, Matusmoto said.

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In response to parking-related tardiness, some faculty members use their own methods to tackle students’ concerns. Philosophy professor Zachary Fish implemented a grace policy to compensate for late arrivals.

“I wouldn’t mark anyone as late or half absent, seeing the current parking situation is so bad,” Fish said.

To combat the lack of spaces, students are finding alternative ways to get to class on time.

“I take the bus. I live in downtown Santa Ana, and it’s easier than trying to find a parking space,” SAC sophomore Jocabed Torres said.

Despite this, many remain skeptical, saying they are temporary fixes to an ongoing problem.