Thursday Oct 01 2009
Residents fed up with college parking problem
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
Rocklin resident Jannine Alexander watches as the steady stream of Sierra College students come and go in front of her home, where she raises five children, including a special-needs child. “The student parking problem from Sierra College is getting way out of control,” Alexander said. She lives just a block south of Sierra College’s southern end on Wildflower Lane near the Havenhurst subdivision. Last Tuesday, she joined five neighbors to confront the Rocklin City Council about the issue. “It becomes a safety problem,” Alexander said. “They speed when they’re late. They’re careless. They park backwards or jagged on the street.” Her neighbors took turns telling their own horror stories of parking ills brought on by Sierra College students who failed to park in the designated parking lot some 100 yards away from the neighborhood at the cost of a dollar a day or $40 a semester. Alexander said the student drivers also block people into their driveways and keep garbage collectors from doing their job. “For two weeks my garbage was not picked up because the students moved my garbage can to park in front of my home,” Alexander said. “It was very upsetting.” Her neighbor Karen Perez said the students are aggressive. “They take U-turns and are reckless,” Perez said. “Kids caught on to a vacant house and are now parking in the driveway.” City Councilman George Magnuson admitted they were unaware of a problem and directed Police Chief Mark Siemens to look into it and report back to them. But Siemens has been aware of the problem and has been keeping track of the number of cars showing up in the neighborhood. “What we see is the population drops after the first few weeks,” Siemens said. “But this year, there is a larger number of students attending Sierra College then we’ve ever had in the past.” Now with statewide education budget cuts, students are flocking to community colleges. This year the population at Sierra College has swelled to 15,808, about a 5 percent increase, according to Sierra College officials. Not only are the numbers becoming a problem, some students have told police they’re being harassed by residents who put notes on their cars and confront them daily. “This evening I had a student come up to me that was very upset about his treatment in those neighborhoods because people have been yelling at him, ‘don’t park in front of my house,’” said Siemens. “Whenever you start having confrontations, it starts becoming a problem for us. You never know if it is going to escalate.” Siemens said he wants to solve the problem and said a new city ordinance, allowing permit parking in the neighborhood, may be needed. Third year Sierra College student Chris Stewart said he’s been coming to park in the neighborhood for three years and doesn’t see a problem with it. “It’s a public street,” Stewart said. “Personally I don’t think I’m doing any harm, getting in anybody’s way. If it was full I wouldn’t park here.” Sue Michaels, Sierra College public information officer and manager/supervisor said the college is building a new road on campus to connect the main parking lots with an overflow lot J and K in front of the stadium. “Students do have options,” Michaels said. “They don’t need to be parking in neighborhoods near the campus. If they want to save money, take the bus.” Stewart said he wouldn’t park in the stadium lot because it’s too far away from his classes on the north end of the campus. “No one is going to park there,” Stewart said. “This neighborhood is closer.” Alexander said she’s ready for a fight to get permit parking but is hopeful the city will support her neighborhood’s cause. “They are making their parking problem my problem,” Alexander said. Wildflower Lane resident Steve Kruzic said the problem needs to be solved this year. “I am seeing the same cars three years in a row. It is just going to keep snowballing in the next five years.” According to city officials, it could be until the first of the year before a permit-parking ordinance could be enacted. When that happens Stewart said he’d park somewhere else. Jon Brines can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.