There are fewer parking spaces available on the Oregon State University campus, and a greater percentage of those that remain are being used, according to the university’s annual study of the subject.
The number of general-use on-campus spaces dropped from 7,320 to 6,991 from the fall of 2012 to the fall of 2013, according to the survey, which was compiled by university staff and released Nov. 22.
Most of the losses came because two lots — one next to the Memorial Union and the other on Southwest Washington Avenue — were displaced by new construction. Those lots totaled 287 spaces, 85 in the Memorial Union lot and 202 in the Washington Avenue lot.
The Student Experience Center is being built atop the Memorial Union lot and a residence hall is going up on Washington.
The remaining 42 spaces were dislodged because of temporary construction and new ADA parking facilities, the report said.
Those 6,991 general-use spaces are on average used 75 percent of the time, according to the report, which was conducted Oct. 22-23.
The study typically is conducted during the fourth week of the fall term, when the university is at its peak enrollment. The study takes place over a two-day period so that it includes a typical laboratory day (Tuesday) and a typical lecture day (Wednesday).
The 75 percent rate is a 7 percentage point increase over fall of 2012, and is the highest rate in the past five years, a time in which the number of spaces has stayed approximately the same while the number of students, faculty and staff at the Corvallis campus has increased from 25,093 to 29,931.
Parking has been a hot topic in town the past two years because of the impact parking pressure in the northern part of the campus has had on the neighborhoods.
One of the Collaboration Corvallis workgroups, which were set up to tackle issues stemming from OSU enrollment growth, focused on parking and traffic, and a City Council subcommittee has held six public meetings as it works on expanding city parking districts.
Permits in the three current parking districts — A and B north of the campus and C to the east — cost $15 annually, and those without permits can park free for two hours once a day.
The current proposal favored by the Urban Services Committee would establish 10 parking zones that would virtually ring the campus, and only permit holders could legally park in the zones.
Permits would cost $20 for residents, and nonresidents would pay a permit fee of approximately $305, or 1.15 times the $267 annual fee that OSU faculty and staff pay to park on campus.
Key parking chokepoints on campus are in Sector C (north of Washington between 30th and 15th) and Sector D (east of 15th).
Lots in those two sectors are full 90 percent of the time, and many are at 100 percent. The utilization figure for Sector C has been consistent in recent years, according to the report, but Sector D is up from 84 percent last year because of the loss of the Washington Avenue lot.
The university, meanwhile, is examining ways to ease congestion in Sector C and increase usage in underutilized areas such as the Reser Stadium lot, whose 795 spaces are used just 10 percent of the time (excepting football game days).
One approach that was discussed publicly in the parking and traffic workgroup was to implement two-tiered pricing, charging more for permits in Sector C than at the Reser lot.
OSU Associate Campus Planner Sara Robertson, however, said in an interview that “there is not a specific reference to a two-tiered system (in the report) because there are several strategies that are being considered.”
OSU and the city both plan to introduce their new parking initiatives next September. Coordinating the moves, officials say, will reduce the risk of unintended consequences.
OSU campus permits currently cost $267 annually for faculty and staff and $195 per year for students. According to the report, 6,952 permits were sold (3,828 to students and 3,124 for faculty/staff) for the fall of 2013.
Which means that approximately 23,000 faculty, staff and students on campus each day don’t hold a parking permit.
How do the rest of the folks get to campus? Many car pool, take public transportation, bike or walk, but OSU has no data on which methods are accessed the most.
“The university has not specifically tracked this data in the past, and there is not sufficient information to draw clear conclusions,” Robertson said.