Construction forces closure of multiple parking lots

Commuters lost about 500 stalls when construction began in Lot 11 last week. / C. Harold Pierce / el Don
Motorists wait as long as 20 minutes for a spot in the lot south of Dunlap Hall following two major lot closures. / C. Harold Pierce / el Don

By C. Harold Pierce

Commuters lost about 500 parking spaces March 13 as construction on two parking lots began as part of ongoing campus unification projects. An additional 30 stalls will be stripped when construction expands Monday, college officials said.

Parking Lot 11 south of the football field, the soccer field lot and two rows of Lot 9 east of the softball field will be closed through mid-July. Construction workers are repaving the soccer field to replace classrooms that will be lost when Dunlap Hall undergoes renovation in fall. About 33 portables will replace Dunlap Hall’s about 40 classrooms and offices.

Part of the north lane of Campus Road, the main path running from the Bristol Street entrance to College Road, will close for construction Monday. Two-way traffic will be rerouted in the south lane, and in the process, about 30 parking stalls along the street will be lost.

“There really is no other way around it. We have to get that temporary village in to get the Dunlap Hall folks out. There’s no good time to take parking away,” said Michael Collins, Santa Ana College vice president of administrative services.

Lot 11 would gain about 50 additional stalls once construction is complete, said Facilities Manager Mark Wheeler.

“I saw students helping each other pull up onto a sidewalk to park, and I thought, ‘oh, they’re getting desperate,’” said Cathie Shaffer, director of the MESA program of the crowded lots.

On busy days, it is not uncommon to take at least 20 minutes to find a spot.

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Ongoing construction in campus lots has made parking cumbersome. Starting January 2013, a main perimeter road and 120 parking stalls south of Phillips Hall Theatre were cordoned off. It reopened last fall with an additional 45 spots.

In response to lot closures, campus safety officers have relaxed ticketing.

“Unless it’s a real slam dunk issue and impedes the flow of traffic, we relax that,” said Lt. John Folo, interim safety and security supervisor.

There are no future plans to close other lots for after this project is complete, said Matt Schoeneman, a construction manager with Linik Corporation, a construction consultation firm hired by the district.

The district acquired a $5 million vacant lot last year on the corner of 17th and Bristol streets with plans to use it for additional parking intended to alleviate congestion on the main campus.

The original targeted completion date was pushed back because of the time it took to hire an architect and approve plans with the Division of State Architects office, said Carri Matsumoto, assistant vice chancellor of facility planning and district construction and support services.

An architect was hired March 10 and construction on the lot begins in November with a target completion date in February 2015, according to district records.

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