Proposed parking policy unpopular among students

On Sept. 4, Principal David Sondheim sent out an email to students and parents that would become a topic of hot debate and discussion in the following week. This email drafted a new parking plan, which, if implemented fully, will assigns spots with priority based on geographical distance to the school and carpooling, close the campus at lunch for those who park and limit the number of permits given out to the number of spots available. 

Leadership students Freddie Kehoe, Melissa Block, Greg Dachtler, and Harri Hetrick (Left to Right) answer questions in student forum

Leadership students Freddie Kehoe, Melissa Block, Greg Dachtler, Harri Hetrick, and Grace Milan (Left to Right) answer questions in student forum

The draft is currently being reviewed by Sondheim and Assistant Vice Principal Saum Zargar. The email included a survey for students and parents to submit feedback regarding the draft. That survey yielded 858 responses that Zargar and Sondheim are considering to approach a final decision. Along with the survey, Zargar and Sondheim held three lunch forums to offer students an opportunity to discuss their opinions and suggestions on the draft freely.While there is no definite release date, the final draft of the proposal will be made within the coming weeks, and Sondheim noted that there are a variety of factors that he will take into consideration with his decision.

“The last student forum was [Friday] at lunch, and we will be looking at the survey responses, information from the student forums and anything else that has been passed down to us,” Sondheim said.

According to Sondheim, the survey indicated that measures to assign spaces with priority to carpooling yielded both negative and positive feedback, while prioritizing based on distance resulted in mostly negative responses. Closing the campus for permitted students during lunch was overwhelmingly unfavored by students. Despite the strong opposition, the lunchtime provision is the “least likely to change” if any reform is made to the original draft, almost entirely because of safety concerns, according to Sondheim.

Even at the beginning of the year, cars fill the lot.

Even at the beginning of the year, cars fill the lot.

“We get reports from the neighbors [in the Riviera neighborhood] and police that [driving to lunch in the allotted time] is unsafe, and we need to stop it before an accident happens,” Sondheim said.

Amongst students, there seems to be massive opposition towards the proposed lunch rule. Students such as junior Delaney Anderson that Redwood’s open campus is an integral part of the culture, and that despite being able to walk or bike, not having a car will make finding food an additional challenge.

“While I understand that driving out to lunch can cause some safety hazards, driving to lunch is such a big part of our school spirit and culture. I do understand where the administration is coming from, though,” Anderson said.

Anderson also stated that she would rather take a spot in the parking lot than be able to leave campus in a car at lunch. There are ways to adjust to the proposed semi-closed campus at lunch. Students will still be able to get food delivered to locations close to campus, walk or bike to lunch and bring their own lunch. Although students have brought up the idea of food trucks, it is illegal for them to come onto campus, according to Assembly Bill No. 1678 of California.

A widely accepted possible amendment to the original draft is to prohibit sophomores from parking on campus by making the permit application window short and early in the year, limiting the number of students who would be eligible to park. However, sophomores, like Lara Burgert, have looked forward to the opportunity and independence that comes with driving themselves to school.

“I would be bummed out if we weren’t allowed to drive to school because it’s something that [sophomores] really look forward to,” Burgert said.

Sondheim said he is unsure of when the final decision will be made, but it will most likely happen within the next couple of weeks. With any attempt at reform, the possibility of unintended consequences pervades in any institution, according to Sondheim. However, he said that he would be open to making adjustments if a problem arises after implementation.

Although there is a general feeling of opposition amongst students, this plan has inspired many to speak up. With the three forums that have been held, students have had opportunities to voice their opinions to administration. It is unknown, yet, whether student feedback will be reflected in the new plan.

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