University Village, campus’s graduate housing for families, plans to start charging residents for parking monthly in the 2024-2025 academic year.
On March 30, UC Berkeley Family Student Housing emailed University Village Apartments, or UVA, residents regarding future changes in the parking policy. Residents previously received free parking as a part of their lease agreement, and the prospect of a new fee has resulted in mixed reactions.
“We were just a little dumbfounded by that. I know I was,” said UVA resident Robin López. “This is the parking part of our lease agreement. (It was in) black and white text in our original lease agreements when many of us first moved here that we are entitled to one reserved parking space.”
The parking fee payment system will be administered through the campus Parking and Transportation office, according to the UVA lease agreement. All vehicles will have to be registered online and have a virtual parking permit.
A UVA town hall Aug. 25 addressed residents’ concerns surrounding the new parking fee, López noted. He added that several residents had questions about the fee, including whether or not they had to pay for multiple vehicles, that didn’t receive “straight answers.”
According to López, Housing Facilities Executive Director Mako Ushihara mentioned at a UVA townhall that parking permits may cost around $110 per month. However, campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff said permit prices are not yet definite and as of press time, campus has not commented on why Ushihara may have suggested the $110 figure.
Decisions and uncertainty surrounding the future parking fee have left López “most baffled, most confused.”
“It blows my mind. We want to rest on our morals and prestige of being the top public university in the world,” López said. “Come up with the process and protocol for how you’re going to implement this new parking fee structure.”
Eddie McCaffray, a village resident, said he supports the new parking fee from an urban planning perspective. He believes if residents don’t pay for their own parking, then it could become something everyone in the village pays for. Additionally, he noted UVA residents get subsidized rent in Berkeley and thinks the new fee will be generally beneficial.
McCaffray noted there is a class divide in the village, and understands the parking fee may lead to problems for some. McCaffray added that he is unsure if this fee will be affordable for all residents, but believes it is a “good call” for the general population.
López believes this proposal will present numerous financial challenges. Relying on stipends, fellowships and GSI appointments left him putting most of his money towards rent.
“I’m not going to get paid for the month of August and I’m likely not going to get paid until October 1st. Had this been a situation a year from now, I’d be stressing out,” López said. “I’d have to work outside of campus. Unfortunately, that’s what I had to do last week because I anticipated not getting paid.”
López also noted that, like him, many residents already rely on campus resources such as the Bear Pantry to receive free food to feed their family. He believes this new and unexpected change came at residents “sideways.”
Additionally, López said the new parking fee fails to take into account the situation of student parents. He emphasized the need of owning a vehicle to transport his son because of the unreliable and unsafe nature of public transportation.
“There are people making decisions for us who don’t even have a clue what it’s like to be student parents right now,” López said. “Because again, I’m getting ready to take on childcare. I can’t rely on the bus schedule to get him to where I need to get.”