University of San Diego students struggle for parking even after purchasing parking permits

| December 4, 2013

The difficulty of getting a parking space – even after paying a hefty amount for a parking permit – has left students of the University of San Diego (USD) angry. A student, Allyson Meyer writes in the university blog how frustrating it is to drive around the campus looking for a free parking space, and battling for the “last remaining space in the parking structure.”

Parking Problems at University of San Diego

Parking is a pain in neck for students across the country. Image courtesy Lariat Archives

Students pay an annual parking permit fee of $280 (for commuters only), but that doesn’t guarantee them a parking spot, only the right to park at a spot should they find one, a university student says. The university’s website notes that “…Parking on USD property is a privilege, not a right.”

The main parking lot comprises of a five-story parking structure with capacity for 964 vehicles, while the West Parking Structure can accommodate 775 cars. Another surface parking area can hold up to 335 vehicles. But there is an imbalance between USD’s supply of parking and the demand. Wajma Shams Lyons, Director of University Scheduling and Parking Administration, says, “Parking is always a challenge for those looking for up-close front parking.”

Clear overlap in student and faculty parking spaces

Areas where commuters (with a valid parking permit) can park between 6:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekdays:

  • The Main Structure, levels 3-5
  • Any white lined space on campus not considered a residential area.

From 5:00 pm to 6:00 am on weekdays and at all times on weekends:

  • Any yellow lined or reserved space (except those marked reserved 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or any space reserved by Parking Services).


Areas where faculty (with a valid parking permit) can park between 6:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekdays:

  • Any white or yellow lined, non-residential, non-reserved space on main campus.

From 5:00 pm to 6:00 am on weekdays and all day on weekends,

  • Reserved spaces not marked 24/7 or reserved by Parking Services.

There is a clear overlap of parking areas designated for commuter students and faculty. Instead of assigning separate parking lots, both students and faculty members are required to park in the same white lined space from 6.00 am to 5.00 pm and in the reserved spaces from 5.00 pm to 6.00 am.

Although the university allows faculty and staff to purchase “reserved space permits,” they cost $660 a year as opposed to $255 for a normal permit that allows them to park at the campus. Reserved spaces, when they remain empty for the entire day, also prevent students from parking in them, causing huge inconvenience, says Chandler Hubbard, who commutes to the campus every day.

Freshman commuter student Sarah Di Fede believes that affordable permits and more commuter parking in the structures would help improve the current situation.

Parking woes worsen during special events

The problem of parking worsens for students when the university holds an event, as visitors including parents, friends, and alums bring in their vehicles on the campus. Recently, a temporary shutdown of parking lots during Homecoming weekend added pressure on the limited open lots.

While Parking Services is working to address prior concerns by making carpool spaces available during intersession, no initiative has been taken yet to deal with the issue of parking during events.

The USD offer a free on-campus tram service for students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Along with covering major routes, the tram also offers its service at the West Parking Structure so that commuters can park their vehicles far off and take the tram to get off at any place on the campus.

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Category: Education, Parking

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