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Chapman, Orange in a Parking Pickle

Campus parking garage is half full, but many students risk tickets for convenience of taking residents' spaces.


Many Chapman University students choose to leave their cars on residential streets during class and risk a citation rather than buy a $50 permit for on-campus parking lots, according to a preliminary traffic study.

That pattern forces residents to compete for scarce curbside spots, said Hamid Bahadori, transportation manager for the city of Orange.

At the same time, the university's 700-space parking garage sits half full on most days, he added. Students instead park closer to their classrooms rather than walk from the garage on the other side of campus, even if it means leaving their cars on streets that require residential permits, he said.

The revelations about student parking habits come just three months after the university submitted plans to build another 700-space parking garage at Orange Street and Walnut Avenue.

Eventually, the school will need more parking, and possibly a new garage, as the 5-year-old law school adds about 300 students in the next few years, city and university officials agreed.

But for now, the perceived parking woes are more a result of college students seeking convenience than a lack of set-aside spots, Bahadori said. "Today, the campus has adequate parking spaces. But the available spaces are not being utilized appropriately," he said.

At the request of the city, the university is preparing a parking study in search of solutions for crowded residential streets and a growing student population.

Early results are in, but there are no definitive solutions yet to parking pains, said Gary Braham, Chapman's executive vice president. In the meantime, plans for the new garage are on hold.

Bahadori estimates that 50 to 100 cars a day spill from the campus into nearby neighborhoods.

John Haffner, a Chapman student who lives directly across from the campus, said it's nearly impossible to find curbside parking during school hours and especially when the school holds special events.

His street, like many others bordering Chapman, requires residential parking permits. Parking without one is risking a $30 fine, and the Orange Police Department cites about 25 cars a day in the university area, Bahadori said.

Still, some students play the odds.

Christina Bradfield, who has a permit, still finds it convenient sometimes to park on residential streets. And she has lost the gamble only once, when she was fined last year. She says it's hard to find a spot on campus even with a permit, and this crunch often forces students onto nearby streets. "There's no parking, but then they give you a ticket," she said.

Chapman is working with the city to explore ways of drawing more students onto campus lots. One possibility, Bahadori said, is to include parking permits in student fees. This would discourage those students who hope to save a few extra bucks by parking without a permit off campus.

That idea, however, would mean that students who don't drive to campus--like Haffner--will pay for a permit they'll never use. "There's no way I'm paying extra," he said.


Renee Moilanen can be reached at (714) 966-4674.

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