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Students react to possible parking changes

Students react to possible parking changes

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Community members are in an uproar over proposed changes to parking in city neighborhoods - but no one is quite as worried about it as students on the UW-La Crosse campus.

A couple hundred people showed up at Tuesday night's city meeting to hear about the proposals, which include 2-hour parking and a handful of permit requirements for some La Crosse streets - including restricting overnight parking without a permit and limiting each household to three permits (two for free, one for $50). Of the 40-some people who spoke, an overwhelming majority told the city they disapprove of the potential changes, especially students, who say they're most affected.

On a bad day, sophomore John Becker says you can drive for blocks near campus without finding a spot.

"There's a lot of congestion on both sides of the street," he says.

Those bad days can happen too often during the school year, so Becker opted out of street parking this year and instead bought a permit for one of the campus's residential lots. For around $200, students and staff can buy permits like Becker's to park year-long in a specified lot. But oftentimes, those permits are sold out before the school-year begins, according to the parking department at UW-L. 

"Our lack of parking is a biggest concern, and that's why we have students parking on the streets," said Kaylee Otterbacher, president of the university's Student Association government body.

The city's proposed changes to residential parking could make that parking problem a lot bigger - particularly, Otterbacher said, the 2-hour parking rule.

"Students have class for more than 2 hours, so [that rule] is going to be detrimental," she said.

Otterbacher said she's looking into how other universities deal with parking. City officials say La Crosse is the only city with a U-W campus that doesn't have parking restrictions around the university.

UW-L is also addressing the issue by providing a new car rental program coming this fall, among other things. The bus system is another options for students and staff who can't always find parking on the street.

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