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Friday, November 16, 2018

City

Parking changes at Gateway on Cullen prompt student complaints


A town-home style student apartment complex, Gateway on Cullen, changed their guest parking pass policy in response to increased complaints about the lack of resident parking spots at night. | Corbin Ayres/The Cougar

After a change in management, many Gateway on Cullen residents complained about a lack of parking spaces for those who paid for reserved passes. Management has since changed the apartment complex’s policy on guest parking, but students have additional reservations about the new system.

Gateway on Cullen is an off-campus luxury apartment complex that opened in 2017 and is now home to UH and Texas Southern University students. Before the shift in management, guests could get a parking pass from an employee at the front desk that could be used for a maximum of 72 hours as long as they could provide the make, model and license plate of the car. 

Due to a high number of residents complaining about their inability to find a parking spot despite paying for a parking permit, Gateway on Cullen reduced the number of guest parking passes they give out per day to 10, said the leasing agent Demai Brown. Before, there was an unlimited number of passes.

Cars displaying a guest pass could be parked in any uncovered spot in the Gateway’s gated surface parking lot that wasn’t marked as “reserved.” Before the change, those passes allowed guests to park in resident spots when there was not available parking outside the gate.

“It wasn’t too difficult at first to get visitor passes, but when they changed the policy it became very difficult,” said pre-pharmacy junior Carissa Ramirez. “You can only get a pass early in the morning when the office opens, and the pass is only for 24 hours. I work full-time, which means I cannot always go to get a pass before they run out.”

The new visitor parking pass policy still requires the make, model and license plate number of the car, but guests can no longer ask for a pass. The resident must retrieve the pass for their guest.

“The previous guest pass system at Gateway was that all residents were allowed and able to get a visitor’s pass,” Ramirez said. “Now all residents are allowed to still get a visitor’s pass, but only if there are any left.”

This change in the amount of visitor passes provided to residents has restricted the ability for friends and family to visit at Gateway, Ramirez said.

“I am able to have guests over if I get to the office in time, but most of the time I’m at work and can’t make it to the office to get a pass,” Ramirez said. “The office doesn’t allow residents to request a visitor pass over the phone — it has to be in person.”

Near the Gateway’s leasing office, there are 18 guest parking spots that don’t require a visitor parking pass at all, since they are designated for guests, with 1 of these 18 parking spots reserved for those with a handicap permit. 

There is no time limit on these spots, however, and some cars remain in the guest spaces for days at a time before moving, Ramirez said.

While guests are allowed to park in the spaces designated for future residents outside business hours, their vehicles will be towed if they’re still parked once the leasing office opens for the day.

Residents have been told that if they are unable to find a spot, they can park along the curb as long as the car is moved by 9 a.m., Ramirez said. Otherwise, they have to wait and hope they can find a parking spot, she said.

Despite the policy change and unavailability of free spaces, some students, like mathematics senior Noelle Meinen, have had a positive experience with guest parking.

In the previous parking pass system, Gateway on Cullen towed vehicles with passes that appeared to have been tampered with or damaged along with vehicles lacking a pass at all, but Meinen says the new system is “straightforward.”

Since guests could park in the designated resident parking lot, there were times when residents would have to drive around for extended periods of time, sometimes half an hour, before a spot would open up.

“I’ve never had to use guest parking, I’ve always been lucky and got a spot out front,” Meinen said. “Before, it was hard to find a spot when I came home late from work. I definitely don’t have as many issues now.”

Gateway on Cullen declined to give a comment on the updated parking system.

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