Access denied?

Ricky Soltero

While San Diego City College is getting a well-deserved face-lift, students and others on campus — including people with disabilities — must deal with the lack of parking and pedestrian access.

The campus area with the most problems is Parking Lot 1, which is located behind the T building. Fourteen spaces in the lot are now reserved for disabled students, and all the spots are often occupied by 8 a.m.

The ongoing situation has grown tiring for people who need those parking spaces. Juanita Lopez, a student, expressed her frustration as she was being dropped off on campus.

“It sucks,” Lopez said. “They need more spaces and need to facilitate access.”

Although there are other parking areas available, Parking Lot 1 is most convenient for people who use wheelchairs and is a short distance from an elevator that provides access to upper levels of campus. The lot is subject to bottleneck problems because of minimal space available due to the prevalence of construction fences.

“In the afternoon, it gets crowded,” said Abraham Guerrero, a student who attempted to park in Lot 1. “They should organize the parking lot, make it wider.

“A lot of people have to park at Balboa Park, and it’s a hassle,” Guerrero added.

The Disability Support Programs and Services (DSPS) department conducts walk-throughs for students with disability issues to identify safe places to park and traverse campus. A DSPS representative also attends the College Health and Safety monthly meetings to stay on top of access issues.

“Access and safety are top priorities for DSPS, the College administration and faculty and staff,” DSPS Program Activity Manager Debra Wright-Howard said.

“Our greatest resource to identify problem areas is the students,” Howard added. “Letting DSPS know of any non-access situation or barriers helps us to identify quick solutions.”

Campus Construction Manager Tom Fine said the campus has taken actions to accommodate students with disabilities.

“We have been working with the district’s Parking Services department and City College DSPS to coordinate… parking and paths of travel,” Fine said.

Fine noted that most disabled parking spaces that were lost due to the closing of Lot 1 were replaced by the 14 spots near the T Building.

“These spaces actually put people closer to the T Building access paths of travel than the original parking spaces, and they provide disabled students and faculty the ability to reach the campus without crossing vehicular traffic,” Fine said.