Every fall, Cal State Long Beach parking lots become a battleground as about 40,000 students and faculty vie for 14,000 parking spaces. But this year offers a new frontier: the Los Altos Gateway Shopping Center.
Starting Monday, 300 CSULB students will be able to snag a special parking permit for less than half the price of a regular semester permit. There’s a catch — they have to park 2 miles away from campus at the shopping center that houses Kmart, near Spring Street and Bellflower Boulevard.
The overflow permits will cost $65 — a nominal fee compared to the regular semester rate of $140 — and require that students with this permit park in one of the 250 leased spots in the shopping center for the first eight weeks of school.
A shuttle will run between the campus and the lot every 15 minutes during the peak parking hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students can still park in the lot after 5 p.m., but they just won’t be able to get back on the shuttle or park overnight. In that case, students can use a Long Beach Transit bus with the U-Pass program, where they get a TAP sticker that will give them free bus rides in the city.
After Oct. 18, the overflow lot will close and the permits will work for on-campus parking.
“This is something that we just see as being worth it for the students and the neighbors of the university,” CSULB spokesman Andrew Edwards said. “We’re giving students a place where they can count on a parking space.”
While off-campus overflow parking isn’t new, discounted permits for overflow parking is, Edwards said. In the past, the university has offered overflow parking at a nearby Greek Orthodox church and other locations.
The university paid $30,000 to lease the space for eight weeks. With the steep permit discount, the university will lose approximately $22,500 in revenue.
Parking services is offering the permits at such a steep discount in order to give students an incentive to buy the overflow permits, Edwards said.
“Our parking team considers any revenue loss negligible compared to the advantages of giving better service to students who are coming on campus during peak hours,” Edwards said.
To keep students who haven’t paid for any permit from abusing the lot, those with the overflow permit will be given a sticker on their student ID that shuttle drivers will check before they allow them to board.
During the first few days of the semester, parking staff will be at the overflow lot to assist students. Since the University Police do not have jurisdiction off campus, they will not patrol the area, Edwards said.
Permit sales and shuttle occupancy will be used to measure the popularity of the program, but if it is successful, Edwards said, the university will look at continuing and expanding it.
Permit sales open at 8 a.m. on July 16.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the name of the shopping center where parking will be offered. The original version also stated Kmart is defunct; the store remains open.