Students enter the parking lot full of hope and optimism. Yesterday it took an hour to find a spot, but today will be different. Today, there will be a gloriously empty spot just waiting to receive the oil stains of your car. The neighboring vehicles will have decided to stay within the lines leaving ample space for you to comfortable exit the driver side. In a perfect world, this is what you expect to get every morning from a college campus who just received a 345 million dollar grant. Except it is not.

At Santa Monica College, the notorious parking has been and remains one of the biggest problems for the community college. Students are given the privilege to spend hours searching for parking for the fine sum of 85 dollars in the Fall and Spring semesters, and 45 in the Summer and Winter. Perhaps some opt to pay 10 dollars for the day at a nearby “visitors” parking lot or park at the satellite Bundy Campus and take the shuttle to the main campus.

The school and city offer many alternatives to the daily hunt, with an expansion or creation of a new parking lot not being one of them.

SMC students can take the Big Blue Bus for free with a student ID card or $1.25 per ride, take the recently expanded Metro Expo Line to SMC station for $1.75, or get a ride at the designated Uber pick-up zone.

19 year old Neurology and English Literature Major, Danielle Sugano, chooses the bus as an alternative.

“Sometimes the parking structure is absolutely packed and then you’re still just stuck there and you have to try to find parking on the street, and that never really works out well,” said Sugano.

"But if you come, lets say, at like 6 in the morning until 8 in the morning, it’s fine. But then anything after that, all hell breaks loose.”

“Let’s say if you come at 11 [you’re] gonna be fighting for a parking spot. But if you come, lets say, at like 6 in the morning until 8 in the morning, it’s fine. But then anything after that, all hell breaks loose.”

Should students be lucky enough to find a spot, they still have some obstacles to overcome. Some common frustrations the SMC Corsairs face are parking violations, dented cars, thefts, and sometimes verbal and physical altercations from competing students.

Some of the SMC students even take it a step further. Denver Banawa, 19, an accounting major and a computer lab assistant at the Cayton Center, wakes up every Tuesday and Thursday at 5 a.m. just to make it on time.

"What I usually do now is that I take very early classes, 8 a.m. specifically, because I know that if I come later than eight in the morning, it would be hard for me to find a parking space," said Banawa.

STRATEGIC PARKING: COME AFTER A CLASS LETS OUT

Parking enforcement officer, Ron Valdez, noted that “on an average week I would say about 60 to 80” parking violations are given.

He also pointed out that the number one complaint was “not enough parking.” When asked if he had any advice for those who decide to enter the battlefield known as the SMC parking lot, Valdez said, “Get here before eight o clock. That’s the best thing I could tell them.”

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