Why there won’t be a parking structure at Fresno State anytime soon


Carlos Rene Castro/The Collegian

Fresno City College opened its parking structure last November, and it’s free for the public to use since the pandemic.

By James Pewthers, Contributor

Parking has always been an issue voiced by Fresno State students, faculty and staff. One answer for these issues might be at Fresno City College as its new parking structure opened in November, following a lengthy delay.

Many Fresno State community members believe a parking structure is one way to alleviate crowded parking, but there is a hefty cost associated with it.

Brian Speece is president and CEO of Ridgerunner Engineering Inc., which provides construction management services to the State Center Community College District. The organization is the same one that helped build Fresno City College’s parking structure.

According to Speece, the structure is a welcome addition to a college campus that has had issues with parking since the 1970s. The structure itself added 864 new parking spaces, with 125 more in its adjacent lots.

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“This provides [roughly] 870 parking spaces that weren’t there before,” he said. “From when I’ve walked through, it’s being heavily used.”

FCC funded its parking structure through Measure C, which cost $18.3 million in total. Since the beginning of the pandemic, parking has been free for students and the public.

In contrast, each CSU campus is responsible for funding its own parking and transportation programs solely through its parking revenues, including parking permits. Therefore, student parking permits would be more expensive if a parking structure was built.

“Most of the parking structures in the CSU were financed based upon an increase in student parking fees,” said Derek Brantley, parking and transportation manager with the Fresno State Police Department.

This is reflected in current costs for those campus’s student parking permits. CSU San Francisco’s permits for its parking structure alone are $500 per semester, with lower rates for students who only park on certain days.

Conversely, Fresno State’s student permit rates are currently the second lowest in the CSU system at $92 for this semester, according to Brantley.

Three different parking structures are included in the campus master plan for Fresno State, with recommended opening dates between 2018 and 2028. But Brantley says there are no longer any proposed timelines for those to be built.

Map from 2008 Fresno State master plan. Parking structures were planned on lots D, E, J and K. (Courtesy of Fresno State’s website)

That campus master plan says future parking structures are planned with Valley Children’s Stadium in mind. One would go at P24 (K), another one at P30 and P31 (D, E), and one at P6 (J), along with a shuttle service to the stadium.

That shuttle service is temporarily back for this semester because of construction. The university is looking into bringing back its previous iteration, the Bulldog Express, for the next academic year.

First come, first served, yet too far

Parking rushes typically happen during the late morning and early afternoon hours.

“It gets better around the afternoon so it’s not that bad, just the mornings,” said Evelyn Castro, a liberal studies major.

Students who get to campus early have no problems finding a spot.

“I have an 8 a.m. class, so I get here pretty early,” said Ardie Burton, a Fresno State student majoring in history. “I’ve pretty much just parked in P20 the whole year, and I haven’t had an issue yet.”

Erick Gomez, an electrical engineering major who also has an 8 a.m. class, echoed his statements.

Joseph Igot, an electrical engineering major, said parking near his classes is usually filled after 9 a.m.

“I would just go out farther and find parking there, but I would still have to walk really far,” Igot said.

Jose Naranjo, a social work major, says students with classes at 12:30 p.m. likely have the hardest time finding parking before classes.

“I feel like that’s probably the busiest time for parking,” Naranjo said. “When I try to find parking, I can’t find anywhere that’s closer to where the crosswalks are. So I’m always having to either park way in the back, or somewhere in the middle.”

Many students like Igot and Naranjo feel like most parking is too far from classes, to the point where students include the long walk in their commute times.

“It creates a bit of a barrier in terms of getting on time to classes,” Naranjo said.

Naranjo also says a parking structure close to campus would be ideal to alleviate that, but transforming some staff lots into student lots may also help.

The long walks are welcome for other students, though.

“It’s good for getting my steps in,” said Noah Lo, a criminology major.