As a student of our school, you probably have heard things about the parking situation this year. Whether it be through personal experiences as an upperclassman or through rumors as an underclassman, this situation is no stranger to you.
Clearly, the situation has had an impact on not only our students but on our administration as well. In order to accurately depict what happened, I’ll be going through the entire situation and shed some light on each side of the story.
Where It All Began
At the beginning of each year, Ms. Molina opens up the parking decals for students to purchase. This year, she opened up decals exclusively for seniors on August 11th, 2021. Their parking spaces are guaranteed and can paint their own spaces. For juniors, and possibly sophomores, decals were able to be purchased 2 days later on August 13th. Since they’re not seniors, they don’t have reserved parking spaces, essentially meaning theirs are first come first serve.
In order to purchase a decal, students must have a license (not a restricted one), be 16 years or older, have current insurance for their car, have a current registration for the car, and must physically own the car already.
No Parking, More Problems
Unfortunately, the parking spaces sell out relatively quickly. As you can tell, students who gain all of the necessary credentials later in the year won’t be able to purchase a parking decal.
As more and more students got their licenses as the year progressed, they wanted to be able to drive to school. There was only one problem, though: there were no more open spaces and decals available for the parking lot. Some students contacted Ms. Molina to see if she were able to open other spaces. Other students worked around this issue by parking at nearby facilities like private companies or even at the community park around the school.
The most problematic approach was students parking in the parking lot anyway, despite not purchasing a decal at the beginning of the year. Of course, this raises a lot of concerns, and Ms. Molina has sent a couple of emails already about cars parking there illegally.
On the other hand, since some students had parked in nearby facilities, there have been cases where these companies called the school to complain about students’ parking. On November 3rd, 2021, Ms. Molina informed us through email that the medical building behind the school threatened to tow cars starting the next day.
Thankfully, there didn’t seem to be any major problems, because most students complied and found other places to park at.
Unfortunately, on March 29th of 2022, Ms. Molina sent out another email, warning students who parked at the nearby park around our school.
Following that message, she warned students that the school is not held responsible for anyone parking in the park, similar to how she did in November.
This was the second time that students were warned to not park somewhere. Unlike last time, students spoke out about this problem. Many of them emailed Ms. Molina privately to ask if there would be any way she could open up new spaces. She sent out a public email to all classes, sharing that she really couldn’t do much because all spaces have been taken since the beginning of the year. She also advised students to not park at the park due to it being a private property that isn’t affiliated with the school.
That same night, however, as if all prayers were answered, Ms. Molina sent out a survey for the junior class. It was directed toward students who parked in the park and needed a solution.
She was able to squeeze in 10 more parking spaces for the first 10 students who completed the survey. Unfortunately, there were a lot more students who needed parking as well, and as the date got closer to April 4th, some students took it upon themselves to come up with their own solutions.
It seemed that more problems arose as some students didn’t really care enough to follow the rules – or maybe they had no other choice.
Experiences Speak For Themselves
I conducted a survey, gaining 67 responses. I wanted to understand the situation from my peers’ experiences.
Firstly, out of all these students, 28 of them parked in the student parking lot. 9 students at local businesses, while 2 students park at the faculty parking lot. The rest of the students don’t drive as of yet but are extremely concerned about future parking complications.
So, what’s really the big problem? Well, let’s let some data speak for itself. I’ve heard a couple of complaints tossed around about students wrongfully parking at the student parking lot, concerning students who have actually paid for decals.
I provided a “select all that apply” question with some concerns I’ve heard. I’ll list the data here:
- 5 students: I used to park at the park, and due to having nowhere else to go, I still park there. I’m at risk of getting my car towed.
- 9 students: Because I park somewhere else that isn’t the school, I run the risk of getting my car towed.
- 9 students: Because I have to park far from school I am afraid for my safety.
- 13 students: I arrive late to school because I cannot arrive in time or I cannot find a parking space in the lot.
- 13 students: With the compact parking, I’m afraid to hit someone else’s car.
- 22 students: With the compact parking, I’m afraid of someone hitting my car.
- 11 students: My parking spot in the student parking lot has been taken by another student.
- 29 students: I will be driving next year/in the next few years, and I’m concerned about this issue in the future.
Evidently, a lot of students are impacted by the parking in numerous ways. In order to truly understand the problems, let’s dive into some detailed personal experiences.
In-Depth Student Experiences
39 students provided me with some responses. These responses are based on personal experiences and general concerns.
Parking spots are being taken by students that haven’t purchased a decal.
One of the major concerns I see in the survey is regarding parking spaces being taken up by students who shouldn’t be in the parking lot in the first place.
Here’s a student who expresses their concern about this matter.
The student parking lot is suppose to be a place where students (who bought a parking permit/decal) can feel safe and/or protected in regards to their vehicle. However, as more and more students pile into OUR parking lot, the students who ACTUALLY PAID for a decal are gradually losing spaces and ending up parking elsewhere, being late, stressing the situation etc,. For multiple unexplained reasons, our parking lot is now filled with sophomores and or juniors who got a car, never bought the decal, and now think they have the authority to take up a parking lot that was already packed without them. Students who bought decals after the fact are finding it difficult to find a space that THEY PAID FOR and it’s genuinely outrageous and concerning.Anonymous Student 1
It seems that some students took advantage of the opening of decals and panicked once Ms. Molina emailed us all about the park wanting to tow cars. Plenty of other students expressed concerns about this as well in the survey. Parking spaces are being taken by students that haven’t paid for decals. This, however, was evidently taken into consideration as Ms. Molina has been sending out numerous emails with pictures of illegally parked cars.
Following this, students have complained that because they arrive relatively late, they cannot find parking spaces.
Sometimes I come to school late. When I would, I’d park at the park, but that’s no longer an option. Now, when I come late, there’s scarce parking in the student parking lot…
…Additionally, students who only have PERMITS are being allowed to park in the lot as well. When I first tried to get my decal, I was a month away from getting my license, but Molina denied me and said I needed a license as it is a liability for the school. Yet other students are allowed this privilege.Anonymous Student 2
There are times that I have to come in late to school because of an early appointment, so someone takes my parking spot. And with more students parking in the student parking lot, there are no other spaces to park in.Anonymous Student 3
There is little to no space in the student parking lot and i will not be late to school just because there is a risk of my car getting towed there is no where else to park !, And mrs. Molina only gave 10 students the opportunity to purchase a decal parking pass; theres more than 20 students parking at the park !!Anonymous Student 4
Because these students that haven’t purchased a decal are parking in the lot, many of the frequent parkers cannot find their usual spaces. This also may be caused by the 5 new openings Ms. Molina squeezed in, inspiring other students who haven’t paid to sneak in unnoticed.
This little problem in itself has affected so many students, but there’s one story in particular that I’d like to highlight the most.
A senior expressed how they had their parking spot taken after arriving an hour late to school and how it affected them.
My senior parking spot that I painted has been taken multiple times (by the same car) because i’ve arrived late. The last time i arrived late to school i was only an hour late and the entire lot was full including someone in my senior spot and when i asked Ms. Soto (who opened the gate for me) what i could do and explained that someone was in my designated spot she proceeded to yell at me and harass me for being late. She interrogated me about why i was late(which is none of her business) and then yelled at me about how she is going to talk to the principal about not opening the gate for late people any more. She yelled at me so much i started crying and then she just let me drive away (which is such a hazard because for all my mom knew i was still at school).Anonymous Student 5
Following along, the student expresses how she ended up having a “panic attack on the side of the road on the way home”. You can really see how this issue is impacting everyone, stressing out students and staff.
Risk of safety when walking to school.
The second most frequent concern I see is how some students are worried for their safety as they walk from where they’re parking to school. Here are a couple of experiences regarding this matter:
Parking even further will also cause me to come to school late. I know the warnings given of parking at the park however, I have no other option and take on the risk. Parking farther away from the school, is also a concern to me because I fear for my safety.Anonymous Student 6
I am worried about my car getting towed because I used to park at the park until recently. Now, I am parking in local businesses and sometimes park but I also run the risk of something happening to me since I walk through sketchy neighborhoods to get to school.Anonymous Student 7
…In the mornings, I don’t have much fear walking to the school, because the area is very occupied with parents and students. But, in the afternoons, I carry a heavy fear of having to walk the empty path to my car by myself. I’m a young female walking alone in unknown streets and have no way of defending myself. For the past two days that I’ve had to park that far, I’ve luckily been able to get a quick ride from a classmate to my car- however, this isn’t something I can always rely on.Anonymous Student 8
Evident from these explanations, safety is also a concern that stemmed from the compact parking in the student parking lot.
An Interview with Ms. Molina
After I conducted the survey, I interviewed Ms. Molina to clarify some statements made by previous students. Here’s how it went.
Where Does The Money Go?
This wasn’t mentioned in the survey, but I asked her about where the money went for the decals and why she opened the new purchases for decals in cash only. This was her response:
It’s through cash so I could control it. If it was through OSP, I wouldn’t be able to check the survey and open it up to first come first serve. The survey was created to see how many people needed spaces and see how many people were parking at the park (there were 35 students). It’s recapped on a recap paper, and it’s submitted to Ms. Hernandez.Ms. Molina
How Many Spaces Were Sold?
I also asked her about the exact number of students who were sold the decal to. She specified that only 11 students were sold decals. 5 students were sold spaces in the student parking lot, and Ms. Molina “specifically showed them where to park.” 5 other students were given space in the faculty parking lot, and the last student was given a handicapped parking space.
“We have tried to maximize as much space as possible to alleviate from the park, so that [parks and recreation] see there’s room there and don’t feel the need to tow.”
Students Parking With No Licenses
As I referred to earlier, a student mentioned how they have heard about students with no licenses being allowed to park in the parking lot. When I asked Ms. Molina if this was true, she immediately denied it. “You have to have a driver’s license [to purchase a decal], not a restricted license. It says it in the paperwork.” When students purchase a decal, they have to sign paperwork stating they have all the requirements, so there’s no way a student with a restricted license or permit has been able to purchase a decal. This means that students parking there without licenses are doing so illegally.
What Else Has The School Done, and What Will Happen in the Future?
Firstly, Ms. Molina says that “our administrative team reached out to the district.” District members then came out to the parking lots at our school to look at it for themselves. They did this to see if any more space could be made from the parking lot. It will take some time to get more spaces verified due to paperwork and such, but “they are looking into next year or over the summer to add some parallel parking spots within the student parking lot. These would open up another 7-10 spots, along with changing the directional flow of the parking lot, making it go one way.”
Ms. Molina also reassured us that concerns were heard and the school tried to act upon them as much as they could.
To summarize this entire situation up, because students have decided to park in the parking lot without paying for decals, many problems have occurred because of this. Thankfully, the administration seems to be aware of these concerns – and maybe now with this article, they can be even more informed.
It’s important to know that the administration has seemingly done everything they could to free up spaces and work on plans for the future. They even have been finding cars that are illegally parked and warning these parkers about the consequences. Who knows, maybe the students who parked illegally in the parking lot simply had no other choice. Maybe their parents couldn’t bring them to school, or maybe they just don’t have any other alternative. What’s certain is that this situation has stressed all sides of the story, and hopefully we won’t be encountering the same problems next year!