PLEASANT HILL -- Residents near Diablo Valley College are unhappy that students are flooding the neighborhoods around campus for free parking, but city and college administrators say there's not much they can do about it.
Jack Prosek, who lives on Bifrost Avenue, says that when classes are in session, students' vehicles line his street, making it difficult for residents to get in and out of their driveways and leaving few parking spaces for visitors.
But as DVC President Peter Garcia pointed out during a recent meeting of the city's Traffic Safety Commission, students are parking legally.
"I don't want you to think we're not concerned," Garcia said. "But we're challenged for any real options that will change a legal situation in your neighborhood."
During the first week of the fall semester, city staffers observed many cars parked along Bifrost Avenue, Harvard Drive, Orin Lane, Norse Drive and Fensalir Avenue.
On average, the city receives three to five complaints per month from residents about DVC students parking, loitering and blocking driveways in the neighborhoods near campus. In response, the city has painted curbs red to discourage students from crowding driveway entrances.
But other potential solutions have drawbacks. The Police Department doesn't have the resources to enforce permit parking, which also would inconvenience residents, city staffers say. Although the city could limit daytime parking, such restrictions would probably just push students into other neighborhoods, police Chief John Moore said. However, Moore has posted motorcycle officers on Norse Drive and Viking Drive to monitor speeding.
About 28,000 students are enrolled at DVC, and there are approximately 8,000 parking spaces on campus, with 200 currently unavailable due to construction.
Garcia doesn't believe students are parking on the street because they can't find a spot on campus; in fact, after the first few weeks of the semester, Garcia said, there are usually plenty of spaces available in campus lots throughout the day. He believes students either want a closer parking spot or don't want to pay $35 per semester for a parking permit.
"You can't always get the space you want, and many students don't want to walk from the 'back 40,' as they call it," Garcia said. "But there is availability."
Since January, the administration has used Twitter, Facebook and email to urge students to respect residents and keep the surrounding neighborhoods clean, quiet and peaceful. Still, Prosek -- who first shared his concerns with Garcia last year -- believes DVC should do more, such as offer discounted bus passes, encourage carpooling, add parking spaces or schedule more Friday and Saturday classes.
"I have yet to see one significant (action) taken by the college to reduce the number of students parking in the neighborhoods," Prosek said.
Garcia responded that subsidizing bus passes for Los Medanos Community College students didn't increase Tri Delta Transit ridership. Furthermore, he said, DVC doesn't have the money to implement Prosek's other suggestions. But the college will look into improving pedestrian access to the campus from some of its outlying parking lots.
For now, the city plans to meet quarterly with DVC staffers to discuss traffic and parking near the campus. Pleasant Hill engineers also want to conduct a comprehensive traffic study of the entire area bound by Contra Costa Boulevard, Taylor Boulevard, Chilpancingo Parkway and Morello Avenue. Given the existing parking and traffic conditions around College Park High School and DVC, plus the future redevelopment of the DVC Plaza shopping center, city staffers believe the situation will worsen.
"This is a complex set of problems that has a number of solutions," said David Freet, Traffic Safety Commission chairman. "There's no silver bullet here."
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.