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

With more than 10 percent of campus parking spots out of commission, Santa Ana College students and faculty are still struggling to find parking on busy weekdays.

In June 2017, there were about 20,000 enrolled students and 3,200 working staff between SAC’s main campus and its two satellites, according to the SAC Research Department. When SAC began its multi-year central plant and site utilities replacement project in spring 2014, there were about 3000 parking spaces throughout the main campus. This semester, about 400 spots were removed for the current phase of construction – a 13 percent reduction — all in the largest and busiest lots on the south side of campus.

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

The parking spaces behind Dunlap Hall and Middle College High School experienced significant losses due to construction, with the lot behind Middle College reduced by over 60 percent capacity following the new construction fence installation. Staff parking was also impacted this semester, forcing staff to search for spots in student lots during prime times.

Lost spaces will fluctuate throughout construction but will not be fully available again until the new science center and Johnson Center are completed in 2020-2011. In addition to active construction sites, contractors will use areas that are fenced off for equipment storage and office space according to Assistant Vice Chancellor of Facility Planning and District Construction and Support Services Carri Matsumoto.

A SAC Facilities Committee report noted that about 125 spaces will be returning for summer 2018.

The empty lot on the corner of Bristol and 17th streets, which was purchased for $5 million in 2013, is still slated to become a new staff parking lot, but further development plans are currently on hold. The lot is currently being used as parking for science center and Johnson Center construction contractors. This will continue through the remainder of the construction timeline, Matsumoto said.

Students and staff are finding various way to cope with the parking shortages. In response to students being late because of parking, some teachers are using their own methods to tackle parking concerns. Philosophy professor Zachary Fish implemented his own grace policy to ease the students’ stress for arriving late to class.

“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 parking, students are using other alternatives to reach school and attend their classes on time.

“I take the bus. I don’t live far either. I live here in downtown Santa Ana, so I just take the bus since it will take me more time to try to find parking,” SAC sophomore Jocabed Torres said.

Public transportation is becoming a more popular option among students, especially since a partnership between the Orange County Transportation Authority and SAC began providing free student bus passes last fall.

However, some students are skeptical that bus passes will solve the problem of limited campus parking.

“I feel that would help people who actually don’t drive and doesn’t really help the parking situation,” student Alex Alvarado said.

Additional reporting by Alex Mora.

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