Story by Anna Browne
The parking operations at Whatcom Community College are slowly progressing in organization and aid, said Mark Lit, a parking monitor at Whatcom. While many students have voiced their concerns about the lack of available spaces in the parking lots, other issues have been brought up as well.
Parking on campus is free for faculty, students and visitors. Whatcom provides more than 1,800 designated vehicle spaces, 40 disabled spaces and 15 visitor spaces, according to Whatcom’s website.
However, Whatcom student Tristan Brennand said that some students have difficulty finding parking spots.
“It’s hard to find a spot that will fit my car,” said Brennand.
Others disagree, arguing that it depends on the time of day when spots are available.
“We have enough spaces for those attending classes when they need to find a space,” said Cody Purcell, another parking monitor at Whatcom. “There’s plenty of space in the afternoon at the Cascade lot, and more available in the Syre lot in the mornings.”
Parking monitors, such as Lit and Purcell, are hired by the school to issue citations for parking infractions as well as provide assistance with parking.
“We do have break-ins, and when that happens we contact the owner and then the [Bellingham] police,” Purcell said.
Whatcom has implemented new ways for students to be able to find their car and options to help students if they are having car troubles, Lit said.
“We have new color-coded signs that help students find their cars, because people do come up to us and ask where their car is,” Lit said.
“It’s hard to fit my car in the small spaces,” said Trevin Todd, another student at Whatcom. “I always park in the very back of the lots because they tend to have more open availability, and the spaces are bigger.”
Ticketable offenses include parking in a construction zone or a disabled zone without authorization. Whatcom also regulates smaller cars parking in designated van parking spaces, as well as parking on the white lines of a space.
The fine for a tire on the line is $15, and a second offense is $30. If a student refuses to pay the fine, Whatcom withholds the student’s transcripts until the fines are paid.
“The fine is to make sure people don’t park crazy in the lot and take up more than they need to in their space,” said Lit.
Some people on campus, such as Brennand, support the fine.
“The parking fines are fair,” he said. “Since parking is already free, we should be grateful, as other colleges like Western [Washington University] charge students, even though it doesn’t guarantee a parking space.”
Other students disagree, saying that the fine is too extreme.
“There shouldn’t even be a fine,” said Veve Vino, a student at Whatcom. “If somebody takes up more than one parking spot, then fine them, but don’t fine them if their car is just sitting on the line.”
A driver can get fined if they are idling in the visitor parking, even if they are signed in at the information desk in the Laidlaw building. Visitor parking is intended only for short-term parking and not intended for students, said Chris Evans, the program assistant for the registration/records information booth in Laidlaw.
Whatcom offers many resources for students interested in learning about alternative modes of transportation, such as taking the bus, biking, or carpooling.
“Laidlaw’s bulletin board has many postings for students who are looking to carpool,” said Blanche Bybee, Whatcom’s director for transportation and commuting. “There’s tons of information about Smart Trips, bus schedules, and safety tips about public transportation.”
More cyclists tend to bike to school during the fall and spring quarters, Bybee said.
“During the winter quarter, because the weather gets cold and rainy, the buses that run to and from campus get very full,” Bybee said.
The bus is a viable option if you don’t have a car and live far from campus, said Zigi Wu, a student at Whatcom. “I take the bus because I don’t have a car,” she said. “I don’t want to have to walk.”
Bicycle parking is available outside Laidlaw, Syre, and the Pavilion. “We will be having more parking space for bikes outside the Pavilion,” Bybee said.