Education

Think student parking is usually bad at Sac State? Wait until fall.

Parking at Sacramento State already can be an ordeal, but this fall it could be worse – especially for students.

Students will find 709 fewer parking spaces at the university, although 1,000 spaces will be opened at an off-campus lot with free shuttle service.

The shuffle is to make room for a $42 million, six-story parking structure, which is under construction on Parking Lot 1 near the J Street entrance. The parking garage will have 1,750 spaces when it is complete in the spring of 2018.

The staff and faculty spaces in Parking Lot 1 are being moved to a parking garage near the tennis courts. The displaced student spaces from the garage and the lot will be moved to the off-campus Ramona Avenue lot, located about 12 minutes away from the campus by shuttle, said Tony Lucas, senior director of University Transportation and Parking Services.

“We recognize it is not as convenient as parking on campus,” he said, adding that students who use the lots would be offered half-price parking passes for the semester.

The university can’t reduce the number of faculty and staff parking spaces on campus because bargaining contracts with employees prohibit it, he said.

“There will be students that will be upset about that,” said Patrick Dorsey, Associated Students Inc. president. “Parking is the No. 1 issue on campus.”

Construction on the parking structure is expected to be completed in eight months instead of the usual two to 2 1/2 years because the prefabricated pieces will be built in West Sacramento and installed quickly. Once completed it will have 1,000 student spaces and 750 faculty and staff spaces, Lucas said.

“Parking may be challenging in the fall, but just think of the long-term benefits of having all of these new structures for our students, faculty and staff,” said Elisa Smith, university spokeswoman. “These next few years are going to entirely transform the campus.”

Dorsey said that campus officials are educating students about transportation options and dramatically increasing the number of bike racks.

The off-campus lot on Ramona Road has been used for overflow in the past but is being expanded from 300 to 1,000 spaces to accommodate students this fall, Lucas said. The university will run four shuttles to the property throughout the day to eliminate waits, he said.

But the need for parking is certain to grow as demands for space for the construction of new facilities increases and enrollment grows. In the fall, 28,913 students will vie for the 12,000 parking spaces in four parking structures and on 12 surface lots.

Recently, the university closed a lot to begin construction on a new science building near the river.

The university has sent email alerts to students, posted information on Facebook, ran advertisements in the student newspaper and held 20 information sessions on the topic throughout the spring semester, Lucas said. New students will be required to go to a 30-minute parking presentation as part of their orientation in the fall.

Anticipating traffic problems for fall, the university has instituted a number of new programs to help students get to class, including a new ride share program called Zimride. The program, developed by Lyft, allows students, staff and faculty with empty seats in their car to pick up riders for a fee.

It also is expanding its parking and transportation app, launched six months ago, to include the ability to check for available parking spaces on surface lots. Lucas said. The app already shows available space in parking garages and helps students to plan their daily routes to school.

Students also will find 500 additional two-bike racks on campus.

“We did all of these things in preparation,” Lucas said. “We have been working hard to provide commute options for students.”

Diana Lambert: 916-321-1090, @dianalambert

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