Photos by Hansol Hwang
Just before noon, cars zip up and down Seaver Drive, barely stopping at stop signs at the roundabout before continuing toward what may or may not be an open parking spot. Some cars try to recuperate from the zipping by hovering around a parking lot, stalking for a space to open before zipping through Pepperdine’s streets once again.
A scene like this is all too familiar, Senior Jason Park said.
“I have to spend at least 15 to 20 minutes [looking for parking] depending on if I want to park like five miles away from the class or not,” Park said.
Park has seen the parking climate in 2012 and expected to see a change after he came back from serving in the South Korean army in 2014. Unfortunately, he said the climate did not improve.
“I have been commuting since 2014. I thought things might have changed since I went to the army,” Park said. “I came back after two years—I think it might’ve gotten a little worse.”
Park is not the only student who experiences an inconvenience in parking. In a study published by INRIX this year, Americans spend an average of 17 hours a year looking for parking. The study also found that this expenditure of time costs a driver in the United States an average of $345 in wasted time, fuel and emissions.
More specifically, a driver in Los Angeles spends about 85 hours a year looking for parking which equates to an average of $1,785 spent per driver per year in wasted time, fuel and emissions, according to the INRIX study.
Pepperdine students along with Park also experience an inconvenience searching for parking to a varying degree.
In a recent non-scientific survey, 99 Pepperdine students were asked to rate the convenience of parking on campus.
The results showed that 56.1 percent of respondents found parking to be “very inconvenient” as opposed to 10.2 percent respondents who said parking was “very convenient.”
Park was actually late to his class on the day of this interview.
“I was late today actually to my operations class because the nature of people who take business classes, they usually try to find parking by the main street or [by] the CCB parking lot which is very limited for how many students there are,” Park said. “I am sure it’s like that for other majors and I don’t know if they are going to make a parking lot or not, but it’s pretty bad right now.”
In the same survey of Pepperdine students, 75.8 percent of the respondents said they have been late to class because they were not able to find parking. Nearly all of the students (96.9 percent) also responded that they had experienced trouble finding a parking spot.
At Pepperdine, parking falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Public Safety. Director of Public Safety Dawn Emrich said she understands students’ frustration with the current parking situation, and that it is just the way it has to be for now.
Emrich said students should work on “modifying expectations” toward parking, and suggested students arrive on campus 20 to 30 minutes earlier, so students can find parking and make it to their class in a timely manner.
Searching for a parking space closer to classes can become a struggle, but Emrich said a student should park somewhere where there is likely to be space. She said the Terrace lots across from FM&P is a place where there is likely to be space, along with parking on Via Pacifica (the road that leads up to Drescher Graduate Campus) and at Drescher itself.
In terms of how many parking spaces exist, the University said a space exists for every student.
Student Government Association President Austin Welch said he also realizes there are enough spaces for students, but also acknowledges there is a need for more parking in general. He said regardless of the actual space-to-student ratio, it does not create an ideal parking situation.
As a representative of the student body, Welch said SGA is looking to advocate for better access and resources to make sure that zthere are enough accessible spaces on campus so that students can get to class and not have to spend 30 to 45 minutes searching for parking.
“We just want to make sure that we are advocating for those requests,” Welch said.
He also said he understands the student and university’s perspectives.
“As a student, I do voice those student complaints and those student concerns, but I also understand from a university’s perspective that with Pepperdine it also takes so long to be able to get anything approved through Malibu,” Welch said. “So we can’t just snap our fingers or make a demand and expect it to happen in a year or so, or three months or whatever we want.”
Additionally, Welch said he knows the university is working on long-term goals and solutions, but he said those results probably will not be seen anytime soon.
In an interview that took place in early October, Associate Vice President of DPS Lance Bridgesmith said construction plans can change based on the changing environment of the school, so even if a conceptual construction plan exists, whether that is a conceptual plan for a parking structure or student housing, a set concept can change to fit the needs of the school’s future needs.
Although there is not a concrete solution yet, an app exists that aims to provide carpool solutions to students on campus. Currently, Pepperdine has a carpool ride-sharing app called RidePul.
It was created by Pepperdine Business Professor Zarik Boghossian and Pepperdine alumnus Sean Graves who graduated in 2016. The founders and investors of the app are Boghossian and Noel Garibian, and their friend David Bagdasarian coded the app.
Graves said he designed most of the functionality and user interface of the app. As of now, he said the app is in the process of going through renovations.
Graves said a roadblock with the marketing side of the application is that he was not able to successfully get the school behind it. He said he had high hopes that the administration would support the app because it is free and there is no disadvantage to having the app being used by the Pepperdine community.
“It just fizzled. They either gave a straight up ‘No,’ or no response to emails, calls or anything,” Graves said.
He said the app becomes valuable when there is a high number of people using it because if only a few people use the app then there is a low chance that those people would all be going to the same destination.
Nevertheless, Emrich said DPS is open to hearing suggestions and feedback regarding parking.
“We are completely open to hearing suggestions and feedback from the people that represent the heart of the institution,” Emrich said.
Loyola Marymount University (LMU)
At LMU the parking climate has changed for the better since the inception of a Department of Parking and Transportation that was formed five years ago. Before the creation, parking was a part of public safety. The current director is Gary Bolton and he said the department was created as a way for LMU to grow and solve its parking issues.
“Five years ago the students were not happy. There was an article in the Loyolan about how bad parking is. Now parking is running itself,” Bolton said.
As a response to fixing parking issues, the Parking and Transportation Department has implemented several ideas.
Bolton became the director of the department four months ago on Sept. 11 and one thing that surprised him with alleviating parking issues was technology.
“The last three months … I have been hitting the ground and running and one shock to me is the technology,” Bolton said.
One particular piece of technology that is being implemented is Zimride. This is a carpool website created by enterprise. It was implemented late September of this year and there are currently 35 users from LMU, Bolton said.
“It’s like Match.com,” Bolton said.
Zimride works similar to Match.com in the way of pairing a driver to a rider. Each individual user creates a profile where they detail their carpool schedule. Once the schedule is set, users select a destination they would like to go and signify where they are starting from. With this set, the website will match the user to other users with a matching schedule and travel destination. When searching for a match, a user can either opt to drive or just simply carpool with a driver to the destination. When a user finds a match they like, then carpooling can commence. If one is a driver, he or she is not required to bring the rider back.
In between the time the users meet-up, a chat feature can be used to communicate between users.
For example, if there is a driver and a rider that is planning to travel from Westwood to LMU on Saturday at 2 p.m., then the two would become a match for carpool.
Currently, LMU’s Zimride operates in an internal network amongst LMU students only, Bolton said. One needs to log in with LMU credentials in order to use the app and pair up with other LMU Zimriders.
Although it is an internal network for LMU, this same internal network of Zimriders exists on other Los Angeles college campuses such as UCLA, USC and Mount Saint Mary’s University. Zimride is currently not offered on Pepperdine’s campus.
Faculty wanted this to be advertised more on LMU’s campus, so the department promoted Zimride through tabling events, email blasts and weekly bulletin posts.
“It’s one less car on the road,” Bolton said.
The department also created a carpooling program for faculty and staff members. This program allows faculty and staff members to park in one of fifteen convenient and prime parking spots under the condition that they carpool. This particular carpool program was implemented this year and so far seven of these spots are being regularly utilized, Bolton said.
They also have a valet system that was originally created because the university needed an exact number of parking spots due to construction and zoning codes, Bolton said. A valet system allowed LMU to meet that unfilled quota of parking spots.
“Say you have 25 stalls. You can stack and valet them and get 100 cars in there,” Bolton said.
In addition to these ideas, communication with the students and the department is also another way for the university to alleviate the parking situation, Bolton said.
“It’s mostly communicating to the students,” Bolton said.
Bolton, the office manager and operations person attends a once a month resident life advisory council where they meet with student leaders and answer questions about parking.
this brings up an important point that we need to clarify that Pepp has free parking -ESLMU’s parking situation currently has more parking spaces than permits issued. There are over 4,500 spaces and 3,000 permits that are issued and a permit costs $343 a semester. Regardless of where one parks, one can walk across the campus in about 10 minutes, Bolton said. Conversely, Pepperdine offers permits free of charge.
In spite of these ideas, Bolton said they are still working on a way to gauge the effectiveness of the ideas.
The AirBNB of Parking
Finding parking, was also a concern for one UCLA alumnus.
Ryusei Shimizu, who graduated in 2015, had a hard time finding parking around campus, so as a response he developed the website Poasis.
“I was living around UCLA and it was so difficult for me to park my car on the street, but when I saw the apartment parking [I] then [saw] there were a lot of available parking spots and so I started talking to a lot of building managers or owners,” Shimizu said.
Once he started speaking to apartment owners around UCLA about their parking spots, he developed an idea to rent out the parking spots using Poasis as a middleman in connecting the would-be parker to the owner of the parking spot.
“It’s pretty much the Airbnb of parking spots,” Shimizu said.
He said the typical rent rate of a spot is around $100 to 160 a month. The payment is made directly to the owner of the parking space and that transaction is done either via cash or Venmo, Shimizu said.
Currently, website usage is free.
Shimizu said that the challenge of the parking business is that the demand is always there but the supply is very limited. He recounted a time when he went door-to-door, looking to see if any apartment owners would host their spot on his website.
“I visited 200 apartments and I only got two people out of it,” Shimizu said.
Moreover, he is not sure if he can apply his idea to other colleges because of the nature of the supply and demand. The supply he needs are those that are willing to rent out available parking space and the demand is that people will always be looking for a prime location to park.
According to a Google Analytics report, provided by Shimizu, of the website from Nov. 24, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017, there was a total of 41,602 pageviews and 2,099 users. Of the number of visitors, 58.9 percent were returning visitors and 41.1 percent were new visitors.
At USC, the Saferide program, which does not cost anything for the students, has been providing students with an alternate means of transportation and may have indirectly benefited the parking climate.
The Department of Transportation at USC conducted a survey with Uber last year and surveyed 3,000 users of the supplement program. One of the questions asked if one would consider not bringing a car to campus knowing that this program was available, and 31 percent of the respondents said that they would not bring their car to campus because of the supplement program that would help them get around.
The Saferide program can be broken down into two different programs, Senior Associate Director of Transportation Michelle Garcia said. The first part is the Campus Cruiser program and the second part is the Supplement program.
Originally, thirty years ago, the Saferide program was designed to safely escort students, but now it can be used as an alternate means of transportation.
The Campus Cruiser program is student run and provides rides within a mile radius from 6 p.m. to 2:45 a.m., seven days a week. In 2015, the supplement program was created where the university contracted with Uber, but switched to Lyft this year. This supplement program provides rides between 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. within the same radius, Garcia said.
The reason why the supplement program was created was because Campus Cruisers were giving about 1000 rides a night in 2014. This also created a longer wait time of 30 minutes.
With the supplement program, 21,000 students have signed up with Lyft and Lyft provides about 24,000 rides a week, Garcia said. In addition to that, the campus cruiser program still provides about 3,000 rides a week.
Garcia said that USC has about 9,000 parking spaces. The school issued 5,000 student permits and 4,000 faculty and staff permits this semester. There are a total of eight parking structures and four structures are on campus, which provide the prime parking spots. The other three structures are off campus but are in vicinity to the campus and one of the structures is off campus as well but is shuttle distance to the school. But in April 2017, USC opened up a new structure, which Garcia said helps provide a good balance of parking to the students.
She said USC does not have an issue with a lack of parking spaces, but frustration with parking exists because there is not enough on-campus parking for everyone. These spots are the ones that are located at the four prime parking structures on-campus, which is hard to obtain permits in.
The advantage USC has to its alternative transportation is the fact that its location is conducive to transit, Garcia said. When the Expo line reopened five years ago it helped with alternative transportation methods for those wanting to commute to school. Additionally, USC provides shuttle service from Union Station to both its main campus and Health Science Campus.
USC also offers rideshare and rent-a-car services such as Maven, which is similar to Pepperdine’s Zipcar, and Enterprise rent-a-car. They also offer carpool services with Zimride.
In regards to Garcia’s role in her department she said, “It’s always such a nice thing when you can add some kind of value service to the students.”
Pepperdine’s response to other school’s ideas
Welch said he is also in favor of creating communication and dialogue.
“I think that would be great. I think anyway that SGA can help participate and engage in a manner, whether that’s creating a forum or conversation where students are able to have that open dialogue with those administrators and those members that would be able to help make those changes, then that would be fantastic,” Welch said.
Follow Hansol Hwang on Twitter: @Hansol_HwangLA