Selina Portera drops her two children off at school in Ventura County every day before she makes the 90-minute drive to attend her own classes at UCLA.
She said having a car and a place to park is especially necessary for her because using public transportation would take two or three hours and is not possible because of her children.
“There are so few students with dependents who commute to campus, and I told (parking services) that, but it didn’t seem to make any kind of a difference,” Portera said.
Portera, a rising fourth-year anthropology student, was one of about 1,000 students who were denied parking permits for fall quarter. She is now on a waitlist and will be informed this week whether she is eligible to purchase a pass.
She tried to appeal in person to the parking office, but could not be taken off the waitlist.
“I was told there was a glitch in the algorithm used to give seniors priority over juniors,” Portera said. “It was like pulling teeth trying to get information.”
UCLA Transportation did not comment on the inquiry over the matter.
Lisa Koerbling, director of parking services for UCLA Transportation, said in an email statement it created a waitlist for the first time in 11 years to accommodate the demand for spaces. About 25 percent of UCLA students, both undergraduate and graduate, commute every day.
Koerbling said the drive-alone rate for students had been lowering in past years, but it increased to a rate of 26.1 percent in spring 2015.
Koerbling added that demand for parking by faculty, staff, emeriti and volunteers grew by about 600 between fall 2014 and spring 2015. UCLA has also experienced an increased demand for patient and visitor parking, including parking for academic events and conferences.
As a result, passes available to students decreased, even though the total amount of permits has not changed in the last year. She said about 450 more students applied for permits in fall 2015, which is greater than normal.
Koerbling said the last waitlist in fall 2004 included 2,790 students. She added that the waitlist this year is less than 1,000 and is expected to shrink as unsold permits from the first parking offering are given to those who were waitlisted.
The first wave of emails was sent to students to confirm and pay for their permits by Friday. If they did not do so, their spots will be given to people on the waitlist this week.
Staff and faculty are given the highest priority while the rest of the spots are delegated based on student status and the distance of their daily commute. For example, fourth-year students often receive permits before third-year students, especially if they will have a longer drive.
Rising third-year political science student Jack Flynn, who is transferring to UCLA this year, said he recognizes the difficulty of providing parking for so many students but wishes UCLA communicated the issue more clearly.
He said he was denied a permit and will be living on campus next year, but he hopes to bring his car to see his disabled mother without making her drive.
Flynn was disheartened to read that other transfer students on the UCLA Transfers Facebook page said they might not have attended UCLA if they had known how difficult commuting would be.
“I have to count my blessings, but not having a car is really hard if I want to get a job and visit my mom,” Flynn said. “(But) I don’t think you should have to choose (which college you attend) based on how many parking spaces are available.”
Transfer students make up a large proportion of the more than 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students who commute each day.
Flynn added that he understands he can bring a car to UCLA, he just won’t have anywhere to put it.
“Part of me feels guilty for complaining, but to all of a sudden not have a car … I feel helpless,” Flynn said.
Flynn also said there are other parking options, but he thinks students, especially transfers, are being informed about them from classmates rather than from UCLA officials.
Rising fourth-year sociology student Wyatt Thompson said he avoids paying for an expensive permit by using outside parking such as Broxton Avenue Public Parking because the first two hours are free and there is a $3 flat rate at night. He also suggests parking off Gayley Avenue and Strathmore Drive or at the meters on Le Conte Avenue.
Other alternatives for those who do not receive a parking permit include joining one of the more than 160 commuter vanpools, which pick up students and staff from designated locations. Students who create carpool groups are given priority and are offered reduced rates.
UCLA Transportation’s BruinGO! transit program allows UCLA students, faculty and staff to ride any Santa Monica Big Blue Bus or Culver City Bus for 50 cents per trip. BruinGO! Flash Passes cost $33 per quarter and allow unlimited rides on these buses.