Added students raises parking concerns

Molly Willson

Iowa State students and permanent Ames residents share a city for the majority of the year, along with limited parking throughout the city. 

The influx of students has brought concerns over housing, traffic and now extra cars that have flooded neighborhood streets and other areas around campus.

The greek community is not exempt from the concern of parking space. Back in October 2014, city staff held a meeting to gather input from the greek community and residents of the surrounding community to find out what problems and what solutions could be found in the area.

“[There is] a request by council to look at the parking ratios because there are some hindrances in our parking requirements for what the greek houses are looking to do in terms of expansion,” said Karen Marren from the Ames Planning and Housing department about the need for a re-evaluation of the parking situation.

Residents offered multiple solutions at the meeting. Some of these solutions included encouraging students to leave their vehicles behind when they come to Ames, enforcing parking laws to a higher degree and more off-site parking locations.

On Dec. 9, the council voted on the second reading of the ordinance to lower the parking ratio required for greek houses.

Another place where there is a lack of parking is around the 700-person dorm that the Department of Residence hopes to have in place by spring of 2016.

The approximately 700-bed dorm will not build or provide any additional parking spaces for students living there.

“That was at the directive of President Leath saying we’re not going to have residence hall projects pay for parking. I’d rather [Parking Division] have a structure that they figure out,” said Peter Englin, director of the Department of Residence.

Another reason that parking in Ames has become an issue is the variety of residents living in neighborhood areas. Many upperclassmen live in residential areas next to single-family homes and young professionals.

This diversity in a neighborhood can cause traffic and parking issues due to the different nature of the pattern of living those students in apartment complexes have compared to a family in a single house.

“The hours that are kept are different. The amount of emphasis on social activity can be different. The number of trips in a car can be different,” said Gloria Betcher, city council representative for the first ward. “If you think about, for example, a student rental house in a low density neighborhood, you might be more likely to have one car per resident than with a family of say five that might only have two cars.”

The community as a whole is also dealing with the influx of cars in neighborhoods. The need for an overall look at parking in the city of Ames is going to be necessary, according to Englin.

Englin also said the amount of students the Department of Residence serves has grown 7,000 students since 2008.

“Where are those apartments and residence hall beds? We [the department of residence] built 720, and were going to build another 700,” Englin said. “You can look at the building in the community. You can total it all up and we haven’t added 7,000 beds to Ames. So there was capacity within the community that needed to be filled and so part of that also goes to the parking plan. It is greater than one residence hall.“