A discussion on the number of parking spaces needed for an apartment complex on Olive Drive led to the Vanguard presenting data from the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies that found, in terms of mode share of students getting to campus, only 30 percent of the 36,000 who traveled to campus used a car, either driving alone or in a carpool.
While an instructive piece of data, it was correctly pointed out that, just because students are not using cars to travel to campus, it does not mean they do not have a car and thus do not need a parking space at the proposed apartment complex on Olive Drive, Lincoln40.
Wrote one commenter, “The data does not in anyway show how many students own cars or need parking by their residence. I would suggest that many students who own cars do not use them to travel to campus. My experience is traveling to campus is easier and cheaper by bike, so that’s what students do. Cars are more often used for shopping and trips to their home cities. Car trips to campus is not an indicator of car ownership.”
They added, “I have no reason to dispute that fewer students own cars, however, the data used in this article does not demonstrate that.”
Since this is a fair point, and one that is not immediately answered in the 2014-15 Campus Travel Survey report, the Vanguard reached out to Calvin Thigpen, a PhD candidate in Transportation Technology and Policy (TTP) at UC Davis, who is the one who wrote the report and is working on finalizing the 2015-16 report – which he said is not all that different from the previous report.
He pointed the Vanguard to page 51, table 44 of the report which shows that about 47.9 percent of all students have “access to a car.” Breaking it down, just 42.7 percent of undergraduates have “access to a car,” compared with 70.8 percent of graduates and 93.3 percent of employees.
Those who live outside of Davis are nearly all driving into town, with 91.5 percent having access to a car, although it doesn’t break it down by category – student versus employee. Of those who live in Davis, less than half have access to a car – again, across all categories.
Calvin Thigpen noted that having access to a car is not a perfect measure of car-ownership as “some students could be referring to the same shared car.” He estimates that about 14,939 students have “access to a car.” That breaks down to 10,862 undergraduate students and 4077 graduate students. Based on that question, he would guess that the number of actual student-owned cars is an overestimate.
Given the much higher numbers of people who have access to a car who live outside of town, not to mention the likely overestimate of access to a car, due to the number of students who are able to borrow someone else’s car rather than own their own, the real number of undergraduates is probably a lot closer to one-third who would need a parking spot at the new apartment complex.
Factor in the close proximity to campus, the easy bike or walking trip across Richards Blvd. to the bike path and the possibility of the rental complex charging for their parking spots, and students will probably self-select themselves out of any problem with limited parking.
The Lincoln40 complex offers 708 beds but only 239 parking stalls, around one parking spot for every three beds.
As we noted in the initial article, commenters were skeptical that this would be enough.
Another responded, “Good question, and these developers are apparently going to wave their magic wand and reduce the car usage to half. This will result in the cars parking in other areas near this enormous project and imposing those parking impacts there. I’ll bet that they will try to charge a parking fee to increase their profit margin even more while eliminating all affordable housing. It is astonishing that City Staff would even consider any of this.”
Later they added, “Lack of availability of parking on the streets will simply set up a situation of competition for parking spots on the street spilling out beyond to other areas. How does Lincoln40 plan to control the number of cars from its residents when they are providing only half of what is needed for that number of residents?”
However, based on our initial analysis of driving to school and now our analysis with car ownership, we think that the projected parking lot would accommodate the rough needs of the residents. Most importantly, this analysis is based on current behavior and not projected changes to student driving and car ownership.
—David M. Greenwald reporting