Lost Stalls Prolong Wait Time

wasted space / During peak hours, from 8 a.m. to noon, it can take student drivers at least 20 minutes to find parking spots. / el Don
Wasted Space / During peak hours, from 8 a.m. to noon, it can take student drivers at least 20 minutes to find parking spots. / C. Harold Pierce / el Don

By C. Harold Pierce

Commuters lost more than 500 parking spaces March 13 when construction on two parking lots began as part of ongoing campus unification projects, 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 until mid-July.

Construction workers are paving the old soccer field for 33 portables that will be used as classrooms and offices during renovations to Dunlap Hall this fall.

District officials are planning the closure of Campus Road, the main route connecting the Bristol Street entrance to College Road. 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, ‘they’re getting desperate’, ”  said Cathie Shaffer, director of the MESA program.

On busy days, it isn’t uncommon to take at least 20 minutes to find a spot.

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

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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 supervis

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

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

Delays are caused 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. Construction on the lot begins in November with a target completion date in February 2015, according to district records.

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