|A 40-year debate over parking on the streets surrounding Mountain View High School continued last week, as the district successfully petitioned several City Council members to recommend reopening the area for student parking at an upcoming council meeting.
In a special informational session held at Mountain View High last Wednesday, council members Ronit Bryant, Jac Siegel and Margaret Abe-Koba listened to several hours of testimony from district officials, parents and students who wish to see a partial solution to the high school's parking shortage by reopening access to parking on Truman and Bryant avenues, which border the high school and contain roughly 61 parking spots.
The council members agreed, saying reopening the streets would benefit the high school and would not negatively impact residents of neighboring homes. They said they plan to recommend reopening Truman and Bryant at a meeting in January or February.
City staff members also backed the idea, citing evidence that there was no increase in pedestrian or vehicular accidents when the streets were open to parking for students.
Parking on Truman and Bryant has been allowed twice and prohibited twice in the past 10 years, most recently in May 2006, when the council decided to keep the streets no-parking zones -- parking had been prohibited for construction -- due to complaints from neighbors.
Meanwhile, the council handed down several rulings and suggestions in 2006 designed to foster other modes of transportation to and from the school. These included encouraging more students to ride bicycles, adding more bike racks and forming a parking committee.
District officials said they complied with all of those ideas, and in fact the district reports a noticeable increase in student bikers. They say number of bikers rose from the low 60s to nearly 100 each day at the end of the last school year; so far this year administrators have counted between 80 and 90 bicycles on campus per day, said assistant principal Sharon Chrisman.
Student leadership had taken up the cause on campus as well, Chrisman said, encouraging fellow students to ride together in bike groups and to form bike clubs.
Additionally, starting this school year only juniors and seniors were issued parking permits, which helped to cut back numbers by eliminating sophomore drivers, said Chrisman. The school also hopes it can alleviate some of the rancor among residents who have complained about erratic student driving and car congestion.
"We really do want to be the best neighbors we can be," said Chrisman.
A parking committee was formed at the high school last year, and included residents from the neighborhoods surrounding the school, school staff and parents. The committee wrote a 400-plus-page report recommending the streets be reopened, which it turned over to the city.
The district says its current parking shortage at the school will only get worse. All predictions say the school's student body -- currently 1,735 students -- will grow, not diminish, in coming years.
Currently, 449 parking spaces are available at Mountain View High. With 304 students issued parking permits, 167 full-time staff, plus 145 part-time and volunteer staff, the high school is in dire need of additional spaces, said MVLA board member Susan Sweeley.
The district already has plans to re-stripe the school's main parking lot this summer, spending $100,000 and adding an additional 68 spots in the process. But Sweeley says the street parking is crucial.
"If you don't approve the parking, we don't see the sense in spending the $100,000 for only 68 spaces," Sweeley said to council members.
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