Editorial: Student voices needed in East Campus parking discussion

Permit parking is probable for East Campus streets.

East Campus residents want to write student commuters one big, fat parking ticket, and students need to throw their voice in the mix.

East Campus is facing major parking problems, namely, student commuters parking in the neighborhood and walking to campus. Yes, it is legal to park on a public street, but students’ poor parking jobs are causing major headaches. Residents end up blocked-in to their own driveways or dealing with student vehicles partially in their yards.

Ticketing isn’t working, and the city of Columbia and East Campus residents can’t agree on a solution. There are a few options on the table, such as meters and a resident permit parking program. Meters would unfortunately be placed in front yards, but they would cover many of the program costs. A resident permit parking program would entail permits for tenants and owners, but there are a lot of options with this program, many of which are still up in the air. Ultimately, enforcement and money are at the core of the debate.

We think it important to recognize that East Campus parking is an issue. This isn’t a “we do” or “we don’t” want parking regulation debate; it’s a question of “How can we solve this problem in a way that benefits all stakeholders involved?” Yes, students have a large amount of parking on campus, but it isn’t convenient or cheap. On the other hand, there are non-student residents who live on East Campus, and it’s their streets that students are invading. It’s easy to think of the area as a parking lot, but we must remember that these residents, unlike students, don’t up and move every year. They won’t relocate to a different town after four years. We, as students, are invading their turf.

But we as students also have a unique perspective on this situation.

A recent Missouri Students Association survey showed students are overwhelming against regulation of East Campus parking. Well, of course, who doesn’t like to park for free? MSA, as the advocate of MU students in this community, you need to make students aware sooner that this is happening in their neighborhood, literally. We don’t expect you to take a stance on what solution is best, but we wish you would educate students on the proposed options and how it would affect leasing on East Campus.

As students, we’re expected to park in permit lots, such as AV-14, if we live far enough from campus to warrant driving. It’s hard to do so when the shuttle bus doesn’t run often enough and the permit price is fairly high to park so far away from most classroom buildings. Parking on East Campus is convenient; it’s free and close to class. We need a good enough reason not to park here or a reason to want to park on campus. If students are expected to park in far-off lots like AV-14, the shuttle bus needs to run more often. Students might chose parking appropriately in campus lots if it were made as convenient as possible.

Part of this problem is the number of assumptions. Many assume that all student housing on East Campus has parking built-in. Others assume this issue doesn’t affect them and that East Campus is ruled by students. Hell, half of us think that wooded area on East Campus is Narnia. But none of this is true (sorry, Aslan). Students, we urge you to insert yourself into this discussion. Show up to interested parties meetings, and make your voice heard. If you don’t want parking regulation on East Campus, say so. It’s pointless to whine about it after an ordinance is passed. Speak up now so you are part of a positive solution.

It’s hard to be part of a solution when one hasn’t been settled on. Students most likely won’t get on board with the project until there’s a solid plan from the city of Columbia. When you ask us if we want metered parking on East Campus, the answer is a resounding “Hell, no.” If you present a plan that’s reasonable and concrete, students will be more likely to be on board with the idea.

Speaking of the city, City Council on Monday night focused on the downtown student housing battle. The concern of too many cars downtown was raised. If we as a city ever want to get to the point where freshmen can be required to not have cars their first year, a major overhaul in public transportation is needed. We know you’re working on this, and more reliable and convenient buses is step in the right direction.

Because of all this, MSA should consider forming a committee on student transportation issues. As student population continues to boom, well-planned bus routes and available parking become more pertinent issues. It’s your job to advocate on the behalf of students for convenient and affordable parking, and it’s clearly something that’s already becoming a problem.

P.S. Students, learn to park better. Seriously, how hard is it to put your vehicle next to a curb? And when you’re in a hurry, stop leaving your car in front of driveways. You’d hate it if someone did that to you, so don’t do it to others. It’s the golden rule of parking.

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