San Francisco Parking Structure now open for students and faculty
By: Aurelia Acquati
Parking at Northern Arizona University (NAU) continues to be an arduous task for students and faculty. However, the San Francisco Parking Structure has been constructed in hopes of alleviating some frustrations. The new garage will continue to move parking to the outskirts of campus, increasing parking for north commuter students and remaining consistent with the Campus Master Plan, which outlines the goals of NAU.
Erin Stam, director of Parking and Shuttle Services, said the university’s plan is to eliminate parking on campus so shuttles can transport students more easily. The addition of the new parking garage is meant to increase parking near shuttle stops and make transportation both on and off campus more efficient.
“A lot of the language in the Campus Master Plan talks about really modifying our transit on campus to accommodate more people, which means less parking in the perimeter of campus so that [shuttles] can get through in a more expedited manner,” Stam said. “[The garage was built] to make up for lost parking and it was done to coincide with the Campus Master Plan. We really wanted a location that was right on that transit spine.”
Stam recognizes students need more parking, especially on North Campus, where many buildings have replaced old parking lots. Stam said Parking and Shuttle Services tries to help students afford parking permits so they can avoid getting tickets.
“There’s this perception on campus that we don’t have enough parking and that’s actually not true, it’s just that it’s all on South Campus,” Stam said. “North commuter parking is one that we lost the bulk of the last five years and now [this gives students] an option. We try to identify ways we can help make students financially able to get a permit, because we don’t want them to get citations.”
During the first week of classes, parking lots around campus were overcrowded while students and faculty waited for the new garage to open. Stam said the wait for more parking will be worth it once the new and unique garage opens.
“It’s a phenomenal structure and obviously we did as many green types of [projects] and constructions that we could use,” Stam said. “Although it’s a little bit crowded right now this week, I still think it’s worth it because, as of next week, everybody will have a lot more elbow room.”
Jeff Siddell, architect and director of operations for Todd & Associates, Inc., has been the project manager for the San Francisco Parking Garage for more than a year. He explained the dimensions and features of the structure that will appeal to users and make it stand out from other garages.
“Essentially, the garage is half-a-million square feet, six stories [and has around] 1,400 parking slots,” Siddell said. “Some of the features it has [include] 17 car charging stations — it wasn’t a LEED project specifically, but there are elements that the university [wanted]. It’s got two elevators and on the first level, there is a secure storage for 100 bikes and there are also lockers in that secure storage.”
Siddell said communication with the university throughout the project has gone smoothly due to strong teamwork. He noted the parking garage is being opened a month earlier than planned, making the project a success.
“Generally speaking, the university’s been good to work with,” Siddell said. “The flow of communication back and forth has been good; [the garage] is actually being turned over a whole month in advance. It is a team effort all the way around to have a successful project.”
Although the university believes the new parking structure will help make parking on campus easier and more efficient, some students have different views.
Alla Takhtay, a senior biology major, does not believe the San Francisco Parking Garage is enough to accommodate the new student housing on campus; she said an increase in parking would be more beneficial than additional housing.
“[The garage] is not enough for how many students NAU has and who have cars, and plus, the amount it’s going to be raised,” Takhtay said. “They should knock down the housing and put more parking spaces.”
Takhtay said she parks off campus and is usually late to class as a result. However, parking away from campus can sometimes result in a ticket for students.
“I park away from campus, which is why I’m late for classes, because I have to find a parking space,” Takhtay said. “And then, if you park somewhere illegal, of course you’re going to get a ticket.”