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OSU lots filling up in year two of new system

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It’s year two of Oregon State University’s experiment with a zonal parking system, and motorists are returning to the lots in the core of campus.

Last year, utilization of the lots in the north end dropped from 90 percent to the mid-60s, according to the university’s annual parking study.

This year, OSU officials say and a Gazette-Times audit of the area shows that more students, faculty and staff are using these A zone lots, which cost $495 per year.

Here is a look at what the Gazette-Times audit, which took place Thursday afternoon, showed:

• The large A1 lot north of Orchard Avenue had 29 empty spaces. Last year there were 60.

• The two smaller A1 lots on the south side of Orchard had 30 empty spaces. Last year there were 39.

• The triangular lot between Arnold Way and 27th Street was an outlier, with 37 spots open. Last year it was completely full.

• The banana-shaped lot between 14th Street and 11th Street, which was routinely half full last year, had just three open spaces Thursday.

“We’d still like to see even fewer empty spaces,” said Meredith Williams, OSU’s associate director of transportation services. “We sold additional permits to people on the waiting list and we’re pleased to see the vacancy rate lower.

“More people have chosen to buy into the system, which may be a function of being more comfortable with it.”

The banana lot also was rezoned from an A2 lot to one that is half B1, which costs $330 per year, $165 less than it used to cost.

No utilization figures are available for this school year. OSU gathered data Oct. 20-21, with the report due at the end of November.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Williams said. “There are more things that we can do, but we are making progress.”

City neighborhoods still supply sizable amounts of the parking needs for university faculty, students and staff.

The city of Corvallis developed a plan for expanding parking districts in the near-campus area that was meant to complement OSU's new strategy, but the city proposal was soundly defeated by the voters in November 2014.

The university made some adjustments in the zoning of lots for this school year, with the biggest change rezoning the gravel lot behind the Hilton Garden Inn from a CR for dorm residents to a general C lot, which costs $95 per year.

Williams said the university had problems with long-term storage of vehicles in the CR lot on football game days, when the lot is reserved for donors.

Dorm residents who used to use that lot have been moved temporarily to the fourth floor of the parking garage, with a permanent replacement under construction on 35th Street.

The new resident hall lot, which will have 80 spaces, is one of two the university will be adding this fall. The second lot, in the B2 zone, is along Western Boulevard. It has 38 spaces. The new lots are tentatively scheduled to open at the end of November.

The new lots are being built to offset parking losses from the building of the Samaritan Sports Medicine Center and the expansion of the Valley Football Center.

In addition to the parking utilization study the university is conducting one on bicycle usage, which also will be released later this year.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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