Throughout the years the University of Nevada, Reno has received much scrutiny over the parking situation on campus.
The Associated Students of the University of Nevada College of Liberal Arts Senator, Haley Rowe, is taking on the issue of parking to write legislation to bring before the administration to improve student parking. The first step in the writing process was the creation of a survey.
“The purpose of this survey was to gauge how students were feeling, what kind of financial burden it had put on them,” said Rowe. “Parking deals with so much revenue and it is very hard to make changes where money is involved, so I need solid evidence.”
The survey amassed over 600 responses from students.
Of those surveyed nearly 50 percent said they do have a parking pass. Of those who do not have one, 85 percent said they are too expensive, with only two percent saying that they do not have a car.
“That showed that we are a campus who does use their cars,” Rowe said. “This was my biggest piece of evidence that I needed.”
Over 60 percent claimed that they could not always find parking in the lot that they purchased for. This could lead to students potentially being late for classes or receiving parking fines.
Approximately 380 students, or 58 percent, claimed that they have received a parking fine on campus due to illegal parking or parking in their unassigned lot. The average parking fine per person was $212 according to Rowe.
In 2019, UNR Parking Servicescollected over $1 million dollars in parking citations alone. With the university Parking Services being an independent entity, they rely on the payments from citations and parking passes to pay for their annual budgets and fees.
“I had a lot of female identifying students contact me and tell me that they could not afford to park closer, so it forced them to park further,” Rowe said. “This led to them feeling very uncomfortable walking to their cars.”
With the closer parking spots being more expensive, it leads to students being forced to park further. Over 10,000 parking passes are sold each year, with only approximately 600 spare spaces.
Silver lot passes cost the second most at $496, and span across most of campus with fifteen numbered lots. Silver lots are the highest in demand and are currently sold out this year. Green, costing the least at $286, is located furthest north from the Nevada Historical Society to McCarran Blvd.
As Rowe works with administration, she would consider any small improvement a major win. This would include a small reduction in parking fees, one free parking lot or more options for parking passes.
“I feel like UNR is doing really well in trying to be progressive and show all of the good programs they offer to students, but parking is where they falter,” Rowe said. “I don’t want us to hold onto this idea of free parking just because we are used to it.”
Other universities in Nevada such as University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Truckee Meadows Community College, offer ample free parking for students.
In an attempt to satisfy student needs, UNR announced a new seven story parking structure in June of 2020, that will provide more than 800 new spaces for students.
The structure will be located at the south end of campus off of Lake and Ninth St. In addition, there will be an ADA compliant skybridge for pedestrians connecting to the fourth floor of the structure.
The new structure is the first part of UNR’s project entitled the Gateway District. This is the university’s plan to create a small neighborhood for students towards the south end of campus.
The reason for this new district was to make room for the university’s rapidly growing community. There are currently three designs planned for Gateway. These include the parking structure, a new life science building and a new business building.
Costs for the parking structure are projected to be $32.2 million. All revenue will be coming from the parking passes sold on campus. In response, the university increased the cost of parking passes in 2019. According to parking services, this is the first increase in prices since 2011.
There will only be 40 parking spots available that do not require a permit. Consequently, these spots are still paid hourly.
The early stages of construction have already started on Virginia Street as of Aug. 5, and are expected to be finished by spring 2022.
Emerson Drewes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @NevadaSagebrush.