PLEASANT HILL -- Despite support from neighbors for permit-only parking near Diablo Valley College, city leaders decided to continue working with the school on other ways to curb student parking on residential streets.
Earlier this year, the city sent surveys to 325 homes on streets surrounding the campus, including Norse Drive, Fensalir Avenue, Ruth Drive, Bifrost Avenue and College Way.
Residents were asked to rate the effect of student parking on the availability of on-street spaces from "low" to "unacceptable."
For those who chose the latter, the survey offered three options for restricting parking from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday: no parking; two-hour parking except vehicles with a permit; or permit parking only.
Of the 166 surveys returned, 22 percent of respondents said student parking has an "unacceptable" impact on their neighborhood. Fifteen percent described the impact as "acceptable" and 14 percent said "low." Among the 73 respondents who rated the parking situation as "unacceptable," slightly more than half supported the permit-only option.
Residents on the west side of campus returned more surveys, rated student parking as "unacceptable" at a higher rate and were more supportive of restricting parking to vehicles with permits than those living on the east side of DVC.
Councilman Michael Harris, however, challenged the survey's results because only those respondents who believe student parking is a problem were asked for a preferred solution.
"I think that there's a flaw in the analysis," he said, adding that the data are skewed toward people who are unhappy with the existing parking situation.
More than 20,000 students are enrolled at DVC this semester and there are approximately 4,000 parking spaces on campus. About 150 spaces are currently unavailable due to construction which is scheduled to be completed by January 2015.
During the fall semester, 8,212 DVC students bought a $40 parking permit, according to the Contra Costa Community College District's police department. In January, the most recent month data are available, the school sold 7,196 permits.
Eric Hu, associate civil engineer for Pleasant Hill, observed parking in the neighborhoods near campus on three occasions. He found little turnover in on-street parking since students tend to stay all day, vehicles crowding or partially blocking driveways and cars with DVC parking permits. Hu also noted that the overflow parking lot on the north side of Golf Club Road tends to thin out several weeks into the semester.
There is also a question about how many Carrington College students or employees at the nearby business park on Civic Drive are taking on-street spaces on Norse Drive and Bifrost Avenue.
Permits probably would discourage students from parking in the neighborhood west of campus, Hu said. But the restrictions would be difficult for police to enforce and it would cost $21,000 to post street signs and $90,000 for a community service officer, he added.
Jack Prosek, who lives on Bifrost Avenue, urged the council to press DVC for a solution to conditions he described as unsafe.
"The city needs to find a way for them to take responsibility for their parking needs," he said.
But council members expressed concern that permit parking in one neighborhood would simply push students to another. Still, Councilman Jack Weir said the parking congestion has caused a traffic safety problem.
"I think the city has dragged its feet on this and I think its time we take some action," he said.
DVC is willing to consider re-striping to see if additional spaces can fit into its parking lots. Administrators also may prorate the fee for students who purchase a parking permit later in the semester. The Traffic Safety Commission will continue to work with the college and report back to the council by December.
Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.