A Texas A&M University-San Antonio student living at Esperanza Hall created a petition Sept. 4 to address residents’ concerns about residential parking space in Lot 1.
Political science freshman Ashley Miller said her petition gained over 300 signatures from students living on and off campus. The main focus of the petition is to have more parking spots for residents in Lot 1.
“My ideal solution would be to have the whole parking lot be residential for the residential area,” Miller said. “It’s more convenient; you have to pay tuition to go here, then you have to pay room and board and a residential parking space permit, and you can’t even park in the residential parking area. It’s inconvenient.”
Miller had the idea after she received a $60 ticket for parking in an unmarked 30-minute wait spot in front of Esperanza Hall.
“In front of the lot, there are spaces that go against the building and there are only so many that are marked for waiting,” Miller said. “So, I parked on the end where there wasn’t any sign saying you couldn’t park there; it’s not reserved. The next morning, there was a ticket on my car and the whole line of cars that was there.”
The Mesquite observed that the three 30-minute wait spots were marked as of Oct. 2 and are located in a row reserved for faculty and staff.
Currently there are 391 residents living at Esperanza Hall. Of those, 182 have registered vehicles on campus, but the university only offers 36 designated parking spots in Lot 1 and 55 city street spots on Jaguar Parkway. The remaining 214 parking spots in Lot 1 are reserved for faculty and staff, according to Jeanette De Diemar, vice president for Advancement and External Relations at A&M-San Antonio.
Residents who cannot find parking near Esperanza Hall have to park in Lots 2 and 3 on the other side of campus. Lot 1 parking is only allowed on weekends starting at 1 p.m. Saturdays, according to Valeria Gallardo, student senator for Esperanza Hall.
On Sept. 19, Miller presented the petition to Christian Harmon, manager of Parking and Transportation at A&M-San Antonio. Harmon is expected to speak with residents about the issue during the Residential Hall Association meeting Oct. 3, said Gallardo.
The Mesquite reached out to Harmon for comment on parking issues that residents are having but he was unable to respond before the deadline of the story.
Gallardo said allowing residents to park in the faculty parking spots after 5 p.m. on weekdays would make it easier for residents. She said the faculty parking in Lot 1 is never full during the day so allowing them to park there after a set time shouldn’t be a problem.
“I’ve lived at Esperanza Hall for five semesters now and I’ve never seen it this bad,” Gallardo said. “For residents like me, you have to be more strategic when you’re driving back to school because it’s a hassle.”
Enrollment has increased 340% between fall 2008 and fall 2017 at A&M-San Antonio according to the university website’s about page. The university had 6,557 students enrolled in fall 2018.
Residents who don’t have vehicles on campus signed the petition even though they aren’t directly affected by it.
“I don’t even have a car, and I don’t want to bring a car because of this,” said Emilee Jones, management junior and resident.
Jones said the parking situation affects more than just the students who live in Esperanza Hall.
“We take up a quarter of that road, and that’s not fair for students who don’t live here because they have to park farther away.”
La-Tieka Sims, president of the Student Government Association at A&M-San Antonio, said residents deserve better parking.
“I don’t think that it’s fair to students who live here because of how much they pay,” Sims said. “There is no reason why someone who lives here should have to take a 10-minute walk to get to the campus.”
Miller said this issue gives residents a reason to be unhappy with the school.
“It’s a very negative feeling towards the parking situation,” Miller said. “I have talked to many people who say that they don’t feel very comfortable going to school here because of parking.”
Miller said the petition should be taken seriously because it represents the voice of the students.
“I’m speaking for the students, and the students should be a priority at this university,” Miller said. “So I don’t really feel concerned with the (potential) backlash because in the end, if it goes how we want it, the students will be happy and they’ll want to stay here and they’ll be comfortable in this area.”
Sabian Leos contributed to this story.