FAU’s enrollment numbers have been swelling, adding on average 755 students a year to its roster, yet the number of parking spaces for students have not been sustained to keep up with the growing student body. With over 30,000 students and less than 9,000 student parking spaces, parking is “first come, first serve,” according to freshman Pre-Med major Michael Laing.
“I saw this guy walking out and I said ‘hey do you know where you parked? Do you mind if I take your parking spot?’…I circled around waiting for him to back out and [as] I was waiting and this guy just pulled in. I said I was waiting for [the spot] and he said ‘that sucks,’” Laing said.
The number of student permits released for the past several years has vastly outnumbered the total number of students enrolled at FAU. “The permit sales included replacements, students who purchase a second permit, paralegal students, continued education students,” Tracy Hardy, the FAU Parking and Transportation Office manager, said. In the last year 35,091 student permits were released to 30,301 students.
The number of students attending FAU compared to the number of parking spaces allotted for students show two trends going in completely opposite directions. From the data provided by FAU’s parking and transportation services, it was noted that from 2011 to 2012 over a thousand parking spaces campus-wide seemed to have disappeared and then reappeared in this year’s parking figures.
The phenomenon of disappearing student parking spots is a continuing trend. With FAU growing in size, it’s necessary to keep up with the demand for class and on-campus living spaces, often causing parking lots to be closed off for construction. This expansion causes a decline of parking spaces followed by an increase in the next year.
FAU’s Capital Improvement Plan — which shows a breakdown of future construction projects and their costs on FAU’s campuses — shows preliminary plans for a hotel project replacing a new student dorm and another parking garage. This hotel is being considered to open on-campus internships for hospitality and business majors according to press releases made by FAU.
“It sounds like they’re just being greedy,” Travis Ellis, a junior communications major and business administration minor, told the UP. “[The administration is] not thinking of the students, they’re thinking of themselves. This is a learning institute and we don’t need a hotel on-campus. They should be pushing carpool but then people still need to line up their schedules and it’s just a struggle to get to school. They should be focusing on parking.”
FAU has made some strides to help alleviate the parking pressure, such as a carpool program that sets students up with other students who live in the same area so they can ride to campus together. 50 spaces around campus are reserved for cars with a carpool permit. The goal of the program is to cut down the number of cars trying to find parking on campus. This program is free for students and faculty: students can register for it online and the website matches students to each other based on when they’re on campus and where they live.
The Campus Master Plan — the long-term strategies that have been laid out for the growth of the university — states that parking spaces in the lot south of the Library will eventually be eliminated to help with the flow of traffic through campus. However, Facilities Planning Director Robert Richman said, “It’s doubtful that the library lot will be eliminated any time soon.”
Another provision of the CMP from 2009 stated that for every parking space only 2.25 student permits would be released to settle the overflow of parking needed on-campus. This plan was never met and has not been followed since the CMP was approved: this past academic year showed 3.99 permits were released for every available student parking space. When asked what FAU Parking and Transportation followed to restrict the number of permits released, the department refused to comment.
A deal with Palm Beach State College allows FAU students to park in PBSC’s lot 40: any student with a blue permit can park there from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. However, PBSC students are also allowed to park on FAU’s campus in lots 19 and Garage 1: if a student has a permit for both FAU and PBSC then they must adhere to the parking rules pertaining to their FAU parking permit.
Facilities Planning has laid out plans for additional parking at FAU, but these plans will not be acted on until enrollment grows. Any additional parking plans made will only be met with an increase in demand; no additional parking structures are being considered for FAU’s current enrollment numbers. Parking Garage III, which is due to be completed in January, is the only parking plan made to supplement the recent growth in FAU’s population.
According to freshman Studio Art major Marck Mendoza, there’s a simpler solution to finding parking: “It’s up to the students. If they really want to find a parking spot they should just come early. It’s that simple.”