UNF students hunt for parking

Sarah Ricevuto

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This campus map shows that available parking is often in undesirable locations.  Graphic by Rachelle Keller

This campus map shows that available parking is often in undesirable locations.
Graphic by Rachelle Keller

UNF students have become expert stalkers. They are ruthless and will stop at nothing to get what they want — a parking spot.

On an average morning, students circle parking garages and lots seeking not just the best parking spots, but ideal parking spots. They see someone exit the stairwell and press the gas pedal to rush toward them before creeping to a crawl as they follow the person.

Some days it seems like the only way you can find a parking spot on campus is to act like predators stalking their prey.

Every year, there are complaints from students and faculty/staff about the parking situation on campus.

Vince Smyth, assistant vice president of Administration and Finance, said parking at UNF is not as bad as everyone thinks it is.

“There are always spots available, it just might not be where they want to park,” he said.

Smyth pointed out that Lot 53, the parking lot in front of Hicks Hall, usually has empty spots and a shuttle can take people to campus from there.

Each year the Parking Advisory Council sets target ratios of permits per spots. This year the ratio of permits per spot for Blue (Premium) permits was 2.30 but the ratio sold was 2.50.

“Those Blue spaces they turn over, over the course of the day. People are here on much less of a basis and so you can sell a lot more,” Smyth said. “In fact, it’s not exact in different places but 2.5 is not an unusual thing within parking.”

Smyth said the ratios are just targets and not an exact estimate. Meeting these targets is not as simple as programming the sales to cut off.

“The system does not let us put it in as an exact number. Somebody has to actually watch it when it gets close to the ratio,” Smyth said.

He said you can either turn it off when it gets close or let it go over and hope you catch it. However, some sales happen on the weekend or overnight when there is no one present to shut off the sales.

Spinnaker observed parking at different times of day and put together a few observations that might benefit students and faculty/staff.

The Blue spaces in the garages fill up by 10 a.m. on most days, but if you have a Blue permit there are spots behind the arena and by the tennis courts. You can also park in the Parking & Transportation Services and UNFPD parking lots with a Blue permit as these lots often have open parking spaces.

This year, the university hired about 50 new professors and additional staff, but did not provide more parkingFaculty and staff parking spots in the Student Union garage usually fill up by 10 a.m. but people with those permits can head over to the Fine Arts Center Parking Garage to park their vehicle.

Dr. David Jaffee, professor of sociology at UNF, said the Student Union garage tends to be packed, but he can almost always find a faculty/staff spot in the Fine Arts Center Parking Garage.

For Gray permits holders, Lot 18 gets busy — especially the spots closer to the bus stops.

“On Tuesdays and Thursdays between 2-3 p.m., it’s impossible to find a spot [in Lot 18],” Jacob George, a transportation logistics senior, said.

If you don’t mind walking, Lot 14 is closer to campus than Lot 18. Gray permits can also park at Lot 53 and take a shuttle to campus.

The university is hoping to alleviate some of the parking issues with the new garage addition near the Fine Arts Center. This garage will add Housing, Blue parking permits and Faculty/Staff parking spots, which generate the most complaints.

A new initiative was also put forward by Student Body President Joseph Turner. He asked the Parking Advisory Council to allow students to exchange their Blue permits for Gray permits since the Blue lots were accidentally oversold.

Until the garage is complete in January, students can continue honing their stalking skills while hoping to find the ideal spot.

Email Sarah Ricevuto at [email protected]