Parking Pains


Cars parked in front of CHS on Monday, Oct. 24. The school does not lease spaces from the city, instead distributing parking passes to seniors each year, who then fight for one of the 30 student spaces in front of the school every day.

After a long night at ballet, I come home to start my homework. I bounce between physics, college applications, coursework for my UM class and more. I finally close my laptop just before midnight. Then, six hours later, I’m up again, quickly getting ready in hopes of scoring one of the 30 student parking spots at the CHS parking lot. Although school starts at 8:00 a.m., the lot is full every morning by 7:25 a.m..

The CHS parking situation has always been precarious. The school does not lease spaces from the city, instead distributing parking passes to seniors each year, who then fight for the limited number of spaces in front of the school every day. The ongoing construction on the CHS building has increased the competition for parking spots, due to the continuing need for staff-reserved spots and space for the construction workers.

If a student isn’t lucky enough (or early enough) to score a spot, they suddenly take on a significant financial burden.

“In the morning, if you can’t get a parking spot, you’re driving around in Kerrytown or the Farmers Market looking,” said Zakiya Fortner, a senior at CHS. “We have to come to school much earlier, so we don’t have to spend tons of money each week on parking.”

With college applications, homework and all of the leadership responsibilities that CHS seniors take on, they don’t need an extra source of stress in their lives. And bringing in a financial component for students adds insult to injury.

Additionally, the race for parking spots adds to the competitive fervor of senior year. While we try to write college essays that will guarantee us a spot at a school over a fellow student, the parking situation becomes another adversarial factor. It is exhausting to always be competing with your friends, and, after months, this begins to take a heavy emotional toll.

Moreover, juniors and sophomores who have their license will never have the opportunity to get a spot. Instead, underclassmen must opt to either pay the exorbitant fee for Kerrytown parking or park in a structure and walk the ten minutes back to school. Otherwise, they must bus even earlier in the morning, have parents drive, or pay someone to drive them each morning.

The lack of parking is not only affecting students’ finances, but also their education. If taking advantage of free two hour street parking, students must take the 10 minute passing time between classes to leave the school to move their cars. If there are no available parking spots in the CHS lot, students are stuck driving around until they find open street parking.

“I spend a lot of time looking for parking every day so I miss a lot of class,” said Bella Stevens, one of the seniors competing for a spot. “It makes me not come to school because I know I’m going to be late.”

I often use the parking situation as an immediate indicator of how my day is going to go. If I’m able to swing a spot, I get to let go of at least one of the constant stressors in my life and focus on something more productive. Otherwise, I drive around frustrated, looking for a spot that is cheap and close by. As the weather gets colder, it becomes much more unpleasant to park far away and walk to school each morning.

CHS should reopen a conversation with city officials about renting a few nearby parking spaces in addition to the CHS parking lot. Relieving the financial consequences of not getting a spot each day would benefit students’ mental health and take away at least one anxiety for CHS seniors.