As the availability of on-campus student housing becomes increasingly problematic to many returning University of Nevada, Reno students, so does the issue of finding available parking spaces. A year ago, the construction of the E.L. Wiegand Fitness Center destroyed 200 metered parking spots that UNR students, faculty and visitors depended upon. Today, UNR students are still coping with the disappearance of parking options.
Since construction began on the fitness center, university Parking Services has added an additional 200 parking spots next to the John Sala Intramural Fields, where university tennis courts once stood. Last year, the new parking spots were available to Green Zone permit owners. A Green Zone permit costs $115 a semester and $230 annually. This semester, that lot has been rezoned, making drivers purchase a Tan Zone Permit that costs $300 annually.
This summer, UNR Parking and Transportation Services added a new Tan Zone parking lot along Enterprise Road, north of the Center for Molecular Medicine. Parking Services also relocated the metered parking that was taken away with the construction of the E.L. Wiegand Fitness Center to the bottom floor of the Brian Whalen Parking Complex for $1.50 an hour with a five-hour limit.
Even with the added parking spots, students are still finding it difficult to find parking for their morning classes.
“I feel like since we have to pay so much for parking we should not have to wonder if we’ll get a spot in our given lot zones,” said Julie Tyang, a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno. “I have an 8 a.m. class and I was hoping parking wouldn’t be so bad since its so early and people usually avoid 8 a.m.’s, but I’ve been having to get to school at least half an hour earlier to get a spot.”
Circling the university parking garages while professors are already deep into their morning lectures is not ideal for students. Many have resorted to completely opting out of paying for a parking spot on campus.
“I actually got a parking pass in Circus Circus this year because Blue Lot permits were sold out and all of the other passes are way too expensive,” said UNR senior, Vincent Perrone. “It’s a pretty long walk and none of the campus shuttles go down there.”
This semester, both Blue Zone permits and Yellow 1 Zone permits were sold out before the beginning of the semester.
Circus Circus Hotel and Casino has an agreement with the university that allows students to park in the hotel’s parking garage on North Virginia street. The Circus Circus parking permits are free, but limited to 200 vehicles.
Blue Lot permits are the cheapest university parking permits, costing $63 for a semester and $125 annually. Blue Lot permit holders may only park in the northmost lot of campus, near the intersection of North McCarran Boulevard and Virginia Street or at William Peccole Park, the university baseball stadium.
Silver Lot permits are the most expensive permits. They cost $400 annually and $200 for a semester. Silver permit owners can park in all of the university parking garages and all other zones.
With a record-breaking enrollment total this semester, UNR Parking and Transportation Services is trying to provide students with incentives to avoid driving alone. They are offering five free daily parking permits to students who choose to carpool, bike, walk or use the city bus system. In order to receive the permits, students must register for alternate transportation with Parking Services.
“With so many more students on campus this year than ever, parking is just a nightmare. I avoid it at all costs. I don’t even know the rules, so I just avoid driving and parking anywhere on campus for that reason,” said Jeanette Young, a sophomore at UNR.
Vehicles parked in permit parking areas must display their appropriate permits Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Some parking areas, including Yellow and Orange zones, are designated as areas where vehicles must display permits 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Metered parking, located behind the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center and the Joe Crowley Student Union, have the same enforcement hours as the permitted parking areas.
“My recommendation would be more metered parking. During the summer we have the perfect amount of metered parking; I could always find a spot there. But during the semester I was forced to buy a pass because there is no way you can ever get a metered spot since there are so few,” Tyang said.
UNR plans to add more buildings and facilities to accommodate the increase in university enrollment totals each year. The university has set the goals of creating a safer and more sustainable campus in its master plan. The master plan sets the goal of creating a new parking garage near the southern end of campus by 2024.
The Nevada Sagebrush reached out to UNR Parking Services for comment, but did not receive a response before print time.
For more campus parking news, visit www.nevadasagebrush.com. Rachel Spacek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.