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The University of Colorado at Boulder administration is looking into the possibility of eliminating parking on campus for first year students living in the dorms, according to CU Director of Media Relations, Bronson Hilliard.
Dave Newport, director of CU’s Environmental Center, cleared up speculation of an on-campus parking ban for all students.
“We are not contemplating a student campus parking ban,” Newport said. “We are contemplating a potential on-campus car ban for freshmen living in the residence halls.”
Newport said the suggestion to eliminate parking for all students was made at one point, but it was not realistic.
The proposal to ban on-campus parking for freshmen living in the residence halls is part of the effort to achieve carbon neutrality on campus, Newport said, but environmental concerns are only part of the reasoning behind the idea.
Newport said as enrollment is increasing at CU, the freshman population is growing along with the need for parking spaces.
“Simply, we’re running out of real estate,” Newport said.
Newport said the administration is considering how funds must be prioritized.
“We can put parking garages in, or we can put classroom buildings in,” Newport said.
Of the 37,000 people that travel to and from campus daily, 75 percent of them use alternative means of transportation, according to Newport. This means they take the bus, walk or ride a bike. As the use of cars on campus is comparatively low, Newport said it makes sense to prioritize other university endeavors over the construction of new parking spaces.
Newport said it costs an average of $47,000 to build just one parking space.
The university will lose some revenue if a parking ban for freshmen living in the residence halls is set in place.
There are 1,067 freshmen currently holding parking permits, said Casey Jones, director of Parking and Transportation Services at CU. The sale of their permits brought in $287,000.
Should the sale of parking permits to freshmen living in residence halls discontinue, Jones said there might be various changes that would need to occur in order to make up for the loss of revenue. Those changes include an increase in fines and fees, and service reductions.
Jones said students have multiple resources at their disposal that should make traveling without the use of their own cars feasible. The CarShare program provides rental cars, Buff Bikes provides rental bicycles and students can commute to and from the mountains via bus through the Ski Bus program.
Students are also able to travel on RTD buses for free during the school year. These passes are funded through student fees.
Some CU students weighed in with their opinions on the matter of eliminating freshman parking on campus.
Deborah Krause, a 19-year-old sophomore business major, had a car during her freshman year and said she does not think a parking ban would be to the detriment of freshmen if implemented.
“I don’t know how opinionated about it I am,” Krause said. “There’s not too much point to have a car on campus because the bus system is so good here.”
Lindsay Moery, a 19-year-old sophomore environmental design major, said she did not have a car during her freshman year, but thinks eliminating parking for all freshmen is unrealistic. She said some freshmen might be negatively impacted by a parking ban if it prevents them from getting to and from work.
“I understand wanting to cut down on parking, but…it doesn’t make sense to get rid of it completely,” Moery said. “You can’t totally get rid of it because some people do need their cars.”
Vice Chancellor of Administration Frank Bruno said the administration is engaging in talks with prospective students and their parents who may be concerned about limited mobility should freshman parking on campus be eliminated.
Exceptions to any ban that is implemented will be made, Bruno said.
“We may have to have some exceptions we may need to consider,” Bruno said, explaining that the administration will take into consideration the fact that some students will need to make frequent commutes for employment or medical reasons.
Bruno said it is important that student needs are still met despite any changes that are made.
“We need to make sure that we are not creating a situation where people feel stranded in some way,” Bruno said.
For first-year students living in the off-campus residence halls in Williams Village, the prospective parking ban may be of particular concern.
At the present time, it has been established that Will Vill will lose some parking space as a result of construction in the area, Jones said.
“Presently there is a project underway to add 500 beds to Williams Village,” Jones said. “It will impact the parking supply for Williams Village as soon as construction begins.”
Tom Goodhew, facilities planner at CU, said mobilizing for construction in Will Vill will begin in late November or early December. Construction itself is slated to start Jan. 1, 2010, and by fall semester of 2011 the additional rooms will be habitable.
It cannot be verified, however, whether or not a parking ban for freshmen living in the residence halls will take effect in Will Vill as well. Bruno said data must be evaluated before such a decision is made.
“That would be another step that would come after we’ve collected some data,” Bruno said.
For the time being, Jones said it looks like any parking ban will probably be limited to main campus.
“It’s hard for me to imagine that,” Jones said in reference to the elimination of parking permits in Will Vill for freshmen. “I think a focus on main campus is probably the most reasonable place to start.”
Jones and Bruno both said the parking ban for freshmen living in the residence halls, should it go into effect, will be a gradual process. They said an extension of the ban into Will Vill is a possibility, but will not go into effect right away.
Bruno said that in addition to opening up discussion about the possible ban with prospective students and their parents, the administration will be speaking with the City of Boulder and neighborhoods in Boulder that may be impacted by the ban.
He said their input is an important part of the decision making process because the university may be “triggering an influx of parking into neighborhoods.”
“We don’t want to make a policy decision that simply shifts the burden to someone else,” Bruno said.
Hilliard said the administration will not be able to implement any changes to parking regulations this school year, and is currently only looking into what could be done during the 2010/2011 year.
Should the proposed policy change go into effect, Bruno said CU would be following in the footsteps of many other institutions of higher education.
“We would not be the first university to go down this pathway,” Bruno said.
Contact CU Independent Deadline Editor Sara Morrey at Sara.email@example.com.