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Lighting, security project in lot Zone E limiting parking spots for students

The limited parking has made it difficult for students to find a space and it’s not uncommon for them to search 10-15 minutes looking for a spot, said marketing senior Mitchell Hudson. | Anh Le/The Cougar

On the first day of the Spring semester, students were surprised to find a large part of Zone E Lot blocked off for construction. With no knowledge of the closure, many students found themselves displaced with no accommodations. 

In an email sent to students later that day, UH Parking and Transportation Services told students that, “a portion of Zone E will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians through Feb. 29 as Facilities/Construction Management runs underground conduits for new lights and security cameras.”

It is unclear when the area was initially closed down for construction, but students parking there found out about the partial closure on the first day of classes. 

“I didn’t know at first, I just drove in and went down the middle lane to my usual spot to see a giant area sectioned off with caution tape,” said physics and computer science senior Frank Landry. “I was not given any advance notice and I never received an email as well.” 

In response to students complaining in a Reddit post, Parking and Transportation Services replied with a link to the email sent to Zone E permit holders. 

“Parking and Transportation Services was aware of this project and as a result of the reduced number of available spaces, we also reduced the number of permits available in Zone E for the spring semester,” said Parking and Transportation Services assistant director Richard Zagrzecki. “We sold the appropriate number of parking permits to ensure we accommodate those Zone E permit holders.”

However, students argue they have still been negatively impacted by the closure. The limited parking has made it difficult for students to find a space, with some spending as much as 10-15 minutes looking for a parking space, said marketing senior Mitchell Hudson.

Zone E also happens to be the nearest lot to Cullen Oaks, Cambridge Oaks and The Quads. Some commuters say they are competing with students who live in these dorms and feel it’s unfair they’re forced to share spots with residents who camp their cars in Zone E more often than not.

“There’s a fight over spaces and commuters are going to be at a  disadvantage because they have to give up their parking spot every day and students who live on campus get to keep it most of the week,” Landry said.

Students have not been offered an alternative solution to tackle this problem. When complaints have been brought to UH Parking and Transportation Services, Hudson said the response felt cold and unsympathetic.

Students are upset with how UH has handled this situation, but this is not the first time students have complained due to decisions made by UH Parking. 

“Parking should be more helpful towards the students since we are paying for the passes and tuition at UH,” Hudson said. “They should operate more towards the benefit of the students and not the benefit of the parking office and how much money they make.”

The construction is expected to be finished by the end of February, according to Zagrzecki. However, some students are hesitant about the timeline considering their past experiences with construction on campus. 

Landry said the situation has exacerbated the existing stress of finding a parking spot before class. 

“If I have to continuously search for parking in the lot that I have a pass for, it’ll be a major inconvenience for me,” Hudson said. 

Some students also said they are worried about their safety because Zone E is the furthest lot and has a reputation for being unsafe on campus. 

“Zone E is very thinly shaped, meaning that more often than not you’re stuck all the way in the back, causing you to walk even further to a class. It’s often the last lot to go and has a reputation for being dangerous,”  Landry said. 

In 2022, the University committed $18 million to upgrade the campus lighting system. The project will continue throughout 2025, in addition to programs such as Walk in the Dark and FIXIT, said UH spokesperson Shawn Lindsey. 

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