The student parking lot past the bus lanes filled with cars.
The student parking lot past the bus lanes filled with cars.
Samantha Shish

York struggles with parking complications due to lack of spots and student respect

Issues with the parking lot at York have been on the rise, more so due to unfortunate weather. Students and staff alike have experienced parking trouble when their spots have been taken by others who weren’t granted a parking sticker, causing a downward spiral of not being able to get to school. Some students have been taking advantage of parking spots, from sharing parking spots with others to parking at places near York, then parking in someone else’s spot after lunch. As of late, parking has become a topic of tension.

“Especially for students, it’s easy to think that they have a reason they need to park here even just for a day when they aren’t supposed to and try to get away with it, but it’s a trickle down effect where visitors and staff members then can’t find a spot,” Tim Dykes, assistant principal of culture and climate, said. “There’s always an impact that’s had on more people than just yourself when you make a decision like that so you have to be aware of that.”

Taxi driving away from York past the turf field on campus. (Samantha Shish)

York has nine campus supervisors that account for the safety of the building, and it has been considered that the school could put a few supervisors outside to monitor the parking lot, only that would take away from their main concern being the safety of those inside the building. There is a disciplinary plan in place where the first time a student is caught parking when they aren’t allowed to they get a warning, the second time a call home and so on. This may help decrease the amount of stolen spots but hasn’t yet gotten rid of the problem.

“It’s a matter of people respecting the fact that if you have a parking pass, you have a parking pass and if you don’t, you don’t,” Dykes said. “I would like to see more done, but it’s a matter of catching people as they’re doing it then following up with them.”

The way York gives out parking spots in a lottery held every summer to determine which students are granted a parking sticker. Students that apply for a spot and have any parking violations are automatically taken out of the lottery. Those enrolled in classes where students leave the school building require a parking spot, making less spots available for others. The remaining spots are given by chance and then paid for by those who win. Students who aren’t chosen from the lottery are left wondering if it’s really the best way to go about picking.

“I don’t think it’s fully fair because I don’t think that you shouldn’t be able to bid on parking spots,” Emily Heflin, junior, said. “There are students that live farther away that may not be able to afford a parking spot and I think we should start with the seniors that live further away, not the students who are able to walk to school.”

Heflin lives on the South side of Elmhurst about three and a half miles from school, so naturally she wishes the lottery favored students who live far enough away to have a bus. She is not alone in this stance, though every student who wasn’t picked could find a reason they deserve a spot.

“Taking the bus is not fun and I have to wake up extra early for it,” Heflin said. “It would benefit me, my brother, family members and friends around me by having a spot to get to school.”

These issues aren’t new, but it can be hard to come up with a system that benefits everyone, or at least the vast majority. Junior Lindsey Kloet has heard a lot about students stealing parking spots though hers hasn’t been taken. She also thinks that the way we pick which students park at York isn’t the most profitable.

“I think the lottery is unfair because it’s based on if you get lucky and some kids need it more than others,” Kloet said. “I don’t think the system is fantastic but I don’t know exactly what I would do if I was incharge.”

Solutions could be hard to come by in this particular subject, given that York has the smallest amount of parking in the western suburbs. With the students that take spots that aren’t theirs to park in, Dykes suggested getting rid of some disciplinary steps and replacing them with one or two more severe consequences or even resulting to towing cars. Staff might have to find creative ways to help fix this wide-spread compilation.

“We have to deal with what space we have,” Dykes said. “That said, I am open to looking into different ways to do it because I’m not saying that this is the only way, but at the current stage I can’t think of a better way to do it.”

There are some solutions that York could implement into parking that both staff and students have considered. There isn’t a perfect system where every student could get to park here, but there might be a possibility to improve this system.

Senior Camila Arredondo walking into York from the parking lot after parking near Whole Foods Market half a mile from school. (Samantha Shish)

“Instead of just doing the raffle or randomly picking people, we could look at the students who put their name into the raffle and see how they are doing in class,” Heflin said. “We would see if they’re good students that would deserve it then also look at where they live compared to York.”

Like many things at York, staff are accommodating for students as much as they can in trying to find a best fit solution to each difficulty. York unfortunately can’t gain anymore space for an extra lot or a parking garage, but possibly can find new ideas to make these problems better.

“Something I’ve been trying to do since I’ve come here is look at the systems in place, not just parking, and see if there is a better way to do this,” Dykes said. “There are things about this that I wish were a little bit different, but we only have so many spots.”

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