The perception that there are not enough parking spots at the university has persisted for over 50 years. Students and staff joke about having permits to hunt for spots. University Transportation Services restates the problem as not a shortage of parking spots, but a shortage of convenient parking spots.
In 1951, there were 285 academic staff who self-identified that they regularly or occasionally drive to work. In 1974, 10,146 parking permits were issued; there were 3,644 parking spaces on campus. By 2002, there were 16,120 faculty, staff, and students at the university and only 6,450 parking spaces.
Over a fifty year period, the university's approach to parking has changed, but not the community's. University planners have committed to a campus parking plan to preserve green space at the university, create a walking campus, and promote a campus aesthetic. Yet faculty, staff and students want to park near their places of work and study. Parking policies at the university must address both concerns.
At the heart of the parking issue at UNH lies the question of community values and what impact our desire for convenience has on our community. What value do you place on green space at the university? Would your parking behavior be changed through higher parking fees and reliable public transit? Would you find more convenient parking if there were parking garages on campus? If more parking was built, what would the university lose?
There is also a greater issue surrounding cars and parking: the impact of thousands of cars coming to and from the university on our environment.