Permits Outnumber Parking Spaces

News from the Houstonian (Sep. 25) about the cars, the lots, and the stickers:
The Department of Parking and Transportation has issued 3,627 more registrations than parking spots, according to documents obtained by The Houstonian. Officials have said the parking scales have not tipped quite yet as the university is pursuing different solutions.

Traditionally, SHSU has issued approximately 2.2 parking registrations per available parking spot, according to the 2020 Campus Master Plan and Matt McDaniel, director of parking and transportation. However, this fall the ratio has swelled to 2.6 cars per spot.

Currently, there are 2,605 available commuter parking spots, 2,077 residential parking spots and 1,042 faculty parking spots – 7,755 spots overall. However, 6,835 commuter registrations, 1,966 residential parking registrations and 1,465 faculty parking registrations – 11,382 registrations overall – have been issued as of Sept. 12, according to parking and transportation documents.

[Director of Parking and Transportation Matt] McDaniel said parking “can sometimes take a back seat” to university infrastructure improvements like new buildings and classrooms. Moreover, as the university continues to build with new buildings, the amount of parking spots have incrementally decreased, according to McDaniel. For example, 58 residential parking spots were available before the construction of the new Student Health Center in the north district. At the moment, there are 19 available parking spots within that lot.

With the exception of parking garage annual passes, there is not a limit of parking registrations issued each year. However, McDaniel said a cap on registrations could come in the near future. This semester prices of parking decals rose by 10 percent, according to McDaniel.

Planning for a new parking lot is underway, but concurrent construction could limit the net gain of parking spots.

“We’re building a brand new lot with [approximately] 450 spaces,” Al Hooten, executive vice president of finance and operations, said. “We’re looking to try to complete it in phases so we can open up as much parking as we can as soon as we can. Now what’s being displaced is a number of existing parking spaces that are just north of what used to be the Richmond Apartments [where the new residential complex will be] and also the site where the Pirkle Building is going.”

The Texas State University System Board of Regents approved in May the expedited construction of a parking lot in SHSU’s south district that would ultimately accompany a new dorm facility. Multiple university officials have said the lot’s construction was sped up to accommodate parking spots lost to new building projects in the works.

However, other projects will simultaneously reduce the amount of spots gained. According to TSUS documents, the South Residential Complex will consume approximately 230 existing parking spaces across Avenue J from White Hall once construction begins in February 2015. Doug Greening, associate vice president for facilities management, said the Fred Pirkle Technology Building will consume 134 existing parking spaces as well once construction commences in summer 2015. This means that while approximately 450 new parking spots will be constructed, the university will only have a net gain of approximately 100 spots by summer 2015.

In the meantime, McDaniel said the university is also studying converting some spaces in residential parking lots to include commuters.

“We’re working on a search program, there are a couple of resident lots – Ravens Village and Bearkat Village – where we’re seeing around 45 to 50 spaces that aren’t being used,” McDaniel said. “We always want to see 100 percent usage in our lots. If that doesn’t change we’re going to open those up to community usage.”

Currently, students who live in certain off-campus apartments have shuttles provided by the complexes getting to and from campus. McDaniel said the apartment shuttles “have been a relief to us.”

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