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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Students, residents call East Campus parking complex issue

Commuter parking is at the root of the East Campus parking problem.

April 9, 2014

No solid consensus was made at the March 19 open forum to change parking policies in East Campus. But students and residents in attendance both felt the complexity of the situation and the proposed solutions.

Many community members like Janet Hammen, the East Campus Neighborhood Association president, voiced that the number of commuters parking in the neighborhood was a dire issue in need of a solution.

“Those of us who have lived here have felt the commuter parking and the safety issues that are associated with that,” Hammen said after the meeting.

A challenge was unearthed during the meeting: the breakdown in communication between students and long-term members in the community.

Missouri Students Association President Mason Schara said he was surprised to hear that community organizations, such as the Neighborhood Association, had contacted the association and invited student leaders to meetings regarding the issue.

“We didn’t receive any (communication) prior to this meeting,” Schara said at the meeting.

Junior Zach Wehmeyer said at the meeting that the information might not be reaching the students efficiently enough.

“(MU) is utilizing the same networks that students use to get the news out, but some students may not use the same news outlets that a permanent resident in East Campus might,” he said.

Schara said he believes the meeting was productive at building bridges between the student organizations and community leaders.

But Wehmeyer said solving the overall parking problem might be more complex than keeping commuters out of East Campus.

“I’m concerned that the parking situation there has an underlying cause that reaches beyond that,” Wehmeyer said.

Anne Case-Hafferty, an MU graduate and Mizzou Alumni Association assistant director, lived in East Campus from 2001 to 2008 and moved back in early 2013. She said commuter parking in East Campus has been an issue for as long as she can remember.

Case-Hafferty said she believes the issue has gotten worse because of MU’s significant enrollment growth.

“It’s a complex issue,” she said. “There has been a significant enrollment increase in the last few years, but there haven’t been more apartments available in East Campus. If those students don’t live near campus, they are going to need someplace to park, and I think we’ve reached a critical mass with the number of commuter parkers. If we don’t do something, those issues will continue.”

Enrollment has increased from 30,200 students in 2008 to 34,658 in 2013, according to the University Registar. Case-Hafferty said despite the increase, there have not been more places to live on East Campus.

“If those students don’t live near campus, they are going to need someplace to park,” she said. “With the number of commuter parkers that are now in East Campus, I think we reached a critical mass. If we don’t do something, those issues will continue.”

Case-Hafferty said she would prefer a residential parking permit system, which would range between $10 and $20 in cost annually per resident, to help offset the cost for improved parking enforcement.

Junior Andrew Dodenhoff, a resident of East Campus, said while the cost of a parking permit would not immensely burden him financially, he would prefer not to pay to park in front of his house.

“Out of principle, I’d prefer not to pay it. … I think since I pay rent, I have the right to park in front of my house,” he said. “But if paying that meant there would be a better supervision of parking, I think I would be fine with (paying).”

Both residents opposed any sort of metered-parking policy.

Dodenhoff said he is fine with allowing a select number of commuters to park in the neighborhood; after all, residents were guaranteed a parking spot. Case-Hafferty said she is opposed to allowing any commuters park in the area.

“I think a lot of people forget that East Campus is a residential neighborhood,” Case-Hafferty said. "If you were to take this situation and put it in any other neighborhood, people would be up in arms about it. I think that sentiment is shared by a lot of the neighborhoods, including East Campus."

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