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Parking in Isla Vista? Not ‘Round Here, Partner

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

You’re driving home from Starbucks on a Thursday night after studying for hours for your finals. You enter Isla Vista and begin looking for street parking near your house or apartment. You see a girl walking to a vehicle that looks like it would belong to her and start following her. Sadly, she walks right past the car.

After driving down every single street for the past twenty minutes, you realize there are absolutely no spots. Suddenly, you see an open spot down the road and you start speeding toward it. Unfortunately, a white Audi beats you to it and secures the spot. You give up and end up parking six blocks away from your house. After the day you’ve had, it might as well be Oxnard. 

If you’ve ever lived in Isla Vista, you know about the major parking issue. Searching for a parking spot is like trying to find your friend on Del Playa Drive on a Friday night. On top of the difficulty of finding a spot, there is also a risk of damage to your car if you park it on the street (drunk college students can be reckless). Even worse, when your house or apartment has a limited number of designated spots, sharing problems arise as well. Below are students’ experiences and common struggles with parking in Isla Vista.

Walking Alone at Night 

“The biggest issue I’ve had in IV with parking is accessibility. If you don’t have an overpriced parking spot through your landlord, and you need to park after dark, you have to park super far away, which isn’t safe.” 

-Gabi W.

Even with a Designated Parking Spot, Sharing isn’t Easy 

“If I’m coming home late from work and there are no spots in my lot, I have to find parking on the street, and it’s almost impossible to find a close spot. Also, it’s scary to walk back at night!” 

-Nina B. 

Coordinating with Others is a Nightmare 

“Living with eight people is difficult enough on its own. And on top of that there are only four parking spots available in a driveway and it becomes a logistical nightmare, especially when cars get blocked in. What’s worse is that unless all four cars are mini cooper-sized, they will inevitably inch out onto the sidewalk, and the police will not hesitate to hand out hefty tickets to punish you.” 

-Jacqueline M. 

Street Parking in IV Opens the Door for Damage 

“One time I parked my car on the street and when I came back the next day, my side-view mirror was pulled off and hanging by a thread.” 

-Julia M. 

Parking difficulties in Isla Vista are not going away anytime soon, but here are some tips and tricks. 

Try to avoid parking at night: Around dinner time, everyone starts going home from work or school. Therefore, all the street parking fills up very quickly. Try finding a spot early in the morning when people are leaving to work or class, and don’t move until the next day. This system isn’t possible for everyone though, especially if you work late at night. If you do have to park on the street at night, carry pepper spray or talk on the phone with someone as you walk home. Walking alone at night as a woman can be dangerous, so it’s best to be prepared.

Create a fair system: One way to limit conflict with your roommates about the shared parking spot is by creating a system that works for everyone. For example, if one of your roommates has to start work early on Thursdays and Fridays, they should get the spot on those days. 

Let your roommates know in advance that they have to move their car: If your roommate is parked behind you and you need to go to work in a couple of hours, let them know well in advance they have to move their cars. Dropping your emergency on a roommate in the middle of a Netflix binge is not going to go over well. 

Install a dashcam: You can’t avoid careless people damaging your car while it’s parked. However, a dashcam may be a way to catch the person who messed with your car. Some dashcams even start recording a short video as evidence after detecting vibration of any kind. Dashcams range from $60 to $200 on amazon. 

Dealing with parking problems is the last thing you want to worry about as a busy college student. Hopefully, these students’ parking experiences make you feel less alone when it comes to parking struggles and the tips will help you in the future!

Hi! My name is Zoe and I am a fourth year history of public policy and law major at UCSB.