Residents of East 12th Street and Berverdor Avenue, directly across from the parking lot nearest the stadium, spoke out during the regular meeting of the council Jan. 21, asking council members to help reduce traffic congestion and related problems near their homes. The council will vote March 4 on a pilot permit program.
Many of the teenagers at Tuesday’s meeting held paper signs that read “Keep Calm and Park On.” Katie Low, a 17-year-old senior at Tracy High, and senior classmates Aditya Dutta Gupta, 17, and Chad Leiske, 18, spoke to the council on behalf of the student body.
“We have a parking issue at Tracy High and we have a demand that simply cannot be met,” Low said. “We’re forced to park out in the neighborhood. I can assure you the parking lot is full at 7:35
(a.m.) every single day. If you’re five minutes late, you have to park somewhere else.”
She estimated that 500 students drive to Tracy High each day and said the school parking lots aren’t big enough for all of their cars.
“We understand it is a privilege and not a right to park at school, but for years now, Tracy has been known as a commuter town,” Low said. “Parents are driving in and out, they’re not even available, so parking and driving to school has become a necessary act that you must do.”
Tracy High has 231 parking spaces designated for students and 165 staff spaces, according to Tracy Unified School District spokesman Joel Danoy. He said there are also three motorcycle spaces, three spaces for visitors and nine handicapped spaces, for a total of 411 parking spaces.
The other two TUSD high schools, West and Kimball, have more parking than they need, Danoy said, but he could not give an exact number of spaces.
Leiske said the students hit hardest by the parking shortage are those who are learning skills off campus to prepare for careers after graduation. He said they come and go during the day and often can’t find a place to park on campus.
“They have to go all the way down and walk significant amounts of time to get to their classes,” he said, “which leads to them being late, which is against TUSD policy and Tracy High policy, and that leads to reprimanding. It feels like TUSD and the city have abandoned them on their path to pursuing their unique potential.”
According to the complaint filed by the residents of East 12th and Berverdor at the Jan. 21 meeting, students who park on those streets drive too fast, vandalize property, litter, block driveways and verbally abuse residents when they are confronted.
Gupta said vandalism and littering are illegal, but parking isn’t. He said a permit-only parking zone would only create more problems. The students asked the council to postpone initiating the parking permits until they could find a solution with the school district.
“Even with a permit, there will be congestion as parents drop off students,” the 17-year-old said. “There will always be an option to park in the neighborhood, because there is not enough parking in the parking lot at Tracy High.”
Mayor Brent Ives reminded the students that the council would review the permit proposal March 4.
Students at the meeting Tuesday said they planned to attend that council meeting and also speak to the TUSD board of trustees.
Outside the council chambers, Leiske said that after the parking problems were publicized by local media, they was misrepresented in a television news report.
“We felt we needed justice,” the Tracy High senior said. “It feels like us against the world.”
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.