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UCLA commuter students voice concerns over parking permit accessibility

A UCLA parking structure is pictured. Commuter students expressed frustration with parking permit applications and decisions for fall 2023. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Emily Rusting

Oct. 18, 2023 5:46 p.m.

This post was updated Oct. 19 at 10:40 p.m. 

UCLA commuter students started fall quarter without parking permits or with spaces located in inconvenient areas of campus.

Students need to apply for a parking permit on the UCLA Transportation website and have to pay a quarterly fee if their application is accepted. UCLA Transportation said in an emailed statement that all 2,700 commuter students who submitted the quarterly parking application on time and followed instructions correctly received a permit this year.

Elaha Safdari, a third-year nursing student who commutes from the San Fernando Valley, said that although she ultimately received a permit, she knew multiple other commuter students who had not been approved for parking spaces. She said she had to wait until near the start of the quarter to hear from UCLA Transportation about her application despite submitting the application in August.

“I also had to email them, actually, because I was wondering where my permit was,” Safdari said. “I applied at a certain time, I think in August. I waited and waited and waited until a month.”

The permit application can be unclear because students have to make sure they select the correct permit option from a long list and then enter an online queue before the application deadline in order to be considered for a permit, Safdari said. She added that she believed understanding the process gave her an advantage in receiving a permit.

Sofia Gevorgian, a second-year political science student and commuter student, said she received a permit in a location on campus far from the areas she needs to access. She added that even though her assignment was inconvenient, she kept it to avoid worrying about having to find a different place to park her car.

“I was willing to take the bad lot because it meant having the comfort of knowing that … I have a permit, that I have a place to park,” Gevorgian said.

UCLA Transportation said in the emailed statement that permit applications are awarded based on seniority, with graduate students and upperclassmen prioritized over underclassmen, although commuter status is also considered when determining where an applicant will receive parking.

UCLA Transportation added in the statement that students who did not receive parking permits in their preferred locations could access other lots by using pay-by-plate visitor parking kiosks, use free public transportation passes or purchase discounted daily permits in other locations.

Acquiring daily permits can create extra stress for students because they run out quickly, Safdari said. She added that in a previous quarter when she did not have a parking permit, she had to wake up early in the morning to purchase a discounted pass.

“I (had) to wake up every morning to pay for daily parking on my phone, … like (at) 5, 6 a.m.,” Safdari said. “It’s just an extra hassle.”

Gevorgian also said the discounted permits are running out quickly this year, sometimes almost as quickly as they become available at midnight each day. Despite the discount, purchasing daily permits is still more expensive than the quarterly pass for students who are on campus five days a week, which might create financial barriers to coming to campus, she added.

Gevorgian said she would like to see UCLA Transportation prioritize students who commute long distances more when awarding parking permits.

“If they are living a very close distance to campus, … that should definitely be taken into consideration because other modes of transportation can be useful,” Gevorgian said. “That one person otherwise could be taking a parking spot of someone driving two hours away.”

Safdari said she thinks one of the best ways to ensure all commuter students have reliable parking access would be for UCLA Transportation to provide more information on the permit application process so applicants do not make mistakes that result in denial.

“The directions are not as detailed as they should be,” Safdari said. “They need to have workshops or something for parking permit portals.”

She added that she was relieved she had a convenient and less expensive place to park this quarter.

“I remember going to school and not being able to pay for daily parking (when I didn’t have a permit),” Safdari said. “I would have to pay $15 just to stay for two hours, … so I’m glad that I got one this quarter because I don’t want to deal with that.”

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