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November 2, 1998

Science Hill project will provide parking relief

By Jim Burns

The parking lots in and around Science Hill are frequently filled with cars--and frustrated drivers searching in vain for an elusive space. That area of the campus will see its parking inventory increase by more than 400 spaces, however, when UCSC's first multifloor parking facility is completed in the year 2000.

Plenty of design details remain to be ironed out, but the "parking structure" is expected to be four to six levels in size and built near the corner of McLaughlin and Heller Drives, northwest of Sinsheimer Laboratories.

The new facility will accommodate approximately 500 vehicles. However, it will be constructed on top of an existing lot that currently contains 65 spaces, and some 15 additional spaces may be displaced by improvements made to shuttle stops in the area.

"Science Hill is the most heavily impacted parking area in the campus core," said Larry Pageler, transportation planner for the campus. "We have many days where it is next to impossible to find a parking space in that area."

The project site is surrounded by redwood trees, which Pageler said will reduce the visual impacts of a multilevel parking facility. Project designers are also considering an option in which one or two of the levels are built "below grade," Pageler said. "That's one of the interesting design issues we have: How much do you hide the building, and how much do you want to make sure that people can find it?"

The site is one of only two locations that are identified in the campus's 1988 Long-Range Development Plan as appropriate for a parking structure; the existing Hahn Student Services lot is the other site.

Pageler said the demand for parking in Science Hill wasn't the only factor in selecting the site. "We also looked at other locations to determine where we could realize the most net gain of spaces by converting a surface lot to a parking structure."

Working with consultants on site selection, campus planners also considered the impact that future construction would have on parking in various areas. The Physical Sciences Building, due to be under construction by the middle of 2001, and a future Engineering Building are projects that could eventually displace some 230 existing spaces in the Science Hill area. The Interdisciplinary Sciences Building, which could be under construction by this spring, is not expected to result in a net loss of parking spaces.

It's the Physical Sciences Building, in fact, that has placed the parking structure project "on the fast track," Pageler said. If construction begins next summer on the parking facility, the project would be on schedule to be completed shortly before work begins on the Physical Sciences Building and 80 existing spaces are lost.

In addition to the parking structure, the project includes improvements to shuttle stops and pedestrian pathways in the area, including paths to Kerr Hall, Kresge College, and the Science Plaza area between the Science Library, Sinsheimer Labs, and Natural Sciences 2. Improvements to the intersection of Steinhart Way and McLaughlin Drive are also included in the project.

Planning and construction costs for the entire project are expected to approach $11 million, Pageler said. Since parking projects are funded by the parking fees paid by faculty, staff, and students, the project will result in significant increases in those fees.

The precise increase won't be known until the project costs are detailed, but Pageler expects the increase related to the new structure to be between $15 and $20 monthly for "close-in" parking permits. One plan would have the fee increase phased in over a two-year period, he said.

"A multilevel structure is more expensive to construct than a surface parking lot," Pageler said. "But to get the equivalent number of spaces on a surface parking lot would require that we build a lot twice the size of the Performing Arts lot or half the size of the East Remote lot--and that is not feasible on Science Hill."

The Science Hill parking structure was approved by the Campus Space Policy Committee, and the project's Building Committee met for the first time in late October. If all goes as planned, the project would be sent to the UC Regents next spring for final approval.

The Watry Design Group of San Mateo has been hired as a project architect, and Esherick Homsey Dodge and Davis will serve as design consultants. The Watry Group has designed parking structures for Stanford University and Redwood City, and Esherick Homsey Dodge and Davis has designed many buildings on campus, including the Science Library and the College Nine/Ten complex.

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