Yes, We Wrote Another Parking Story

The morning struggle for parking at Edmonds Community College is nearing a resolution, with completion of a new lot estimated for Summer 2020 at the latest.

With an average of over 10,000 students per quarter, it comes as no surprise that the parking lots are overburdened throughout the week. Every morning at about 8:30 am, almost without fail, the parking spaces fill up and students who were not fortunate enough to arrive earlier are left scrambling for a spot so as not to be late to class.

While most students are probably aware that parking is available at the Lynnwood Ice Center across the street, until 2 p.m., some may not be knowledgeable to the other alternatives, which may be a contributing factor in the crunch. Stephanie Teachman, the Executive Director of Facilities and Capital Projects offers insight to short-term solutions while the construction persists. “The college has leased parking at the Lynnwood Bowl and Skate (south side), and hired a shuttle service that runs between the lot and campus every 15 minutes Monday – Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Teachman said. She also added that there is parking at both the east and west sides of the Gateway Building, the
lot at the southeast corner of 196th St. and 68th, and the Elks Building on 196th St.

While the solution to our parking predicament is just around the corner, the road to achieving this has been fraught with obstacles. Just getting the construction project underway required wading through a river of red tape, but Teachman persevered. “The capital funding process alone is very long and complex,” she said. The State Board for Community and Technical College (SBCTC) develops a capital budget, and then all colleges must submit their funding requests to them. Teachman adds “From funding approval to completion is a minimum of six years for a major
project like the SET building. The political and economic environment related to legislative funding impacts all of this and any funding delays add biennium(s) to that timeline.”

In all this time, however, and despite the crunch to snap up spaces every morning, the campus security forces have kept
everything running smoothly. “I think I’ve talked about parking every year since I’ve been here,” said Jade Jeter-Hill, laughing. Jeter-Hill is the Director of Safety, Security and Emergency Preparedness. In addition to overseeing all of the campus security staff and their training, she also oversees student community outreach, emergency work groups, chemical awareness and, yes, parking.

Jeter-Hill, when asked about incidents of road-rage or violence in relation to the depletion of parking, is happy to report that there are no such incidents on campus. “Overall, I think our students are really good about working together,” she said. While she added that there is the occasional exchange of heated words, this behavior too is a rarity. But for those who, in the heat of the moment, may be inclined to throw harsh words at their fellow campus peers, Jeter-Hill offers sage advice: “Never attribute to malice that which could probably be attributed to somebody’s lack of awareness.”

As for the amount of so-called “vultures,” those who are apt to sit in the middle of the lot with their blinker on, waiting
for a spot that may or may not open up as a line forms in their wake, there have been a few instances. When confronted with such a backup, the campus security forces are quick to respond and will often pull up behind the culprit to deliver what Jeter-Hill refers to as the “pop pop” of their siren. “If somebody doesn’t put their foot on the brake pedal, you don’t see the car start up, there’s not reverse lights – it’s time to move along,” says Jeter-Hill. “I know it’s frustrating.”

We all have obligations in addition to our coursework. Jobs, lives, and some of us our tackling the rigors of both education and raising a family in tandem. However, with careful planning and budgeting of our time, we can mitigate the impact of parking on campus without risking our academic career. Arriving early is your best bet to finding a spot without a fuss, and if that is not a viable option then always remember the alternatives.

Besides, it could be worse. Many college campuses across the state of Washington, and the country for that matter, have implemented, or are planning to implement, parking payment systems. On campuses such as UW Bothell, or the Seattle campus where parking is a nightmarish burden, students can face charges of about $15.00 daily. With the inflation of tuition and textbook prices marching inexorably higher, the thought of paying for parking would just add insult to injury. So it may be a hassle to find a spot, for the time being at least, but just try to remember: at least it’s free!