University looks at drastic solutions for parking debacle

The university is seeking input on three possible solutions to Biola’s parking crunch — borrowing millions of dollars, banning cars among freshman, or cutting the entire men’s baseball program.


Photo by Michael Farr

As the growing campus nears the city-imposed parking lot maximums, Biola faces a tough decision on how to deal with an abundance of cars.

Responding to the increasingly crammed and limited parking situation on-campus, Biola administration is deciding whether multi-million dollar debt, a freshman car ban or cutting the baseball program will solve, at least temporarily, what has been one of Biola’s most pervasive problems on campus

Members of the faculty met Thursday with Associated Students to discuss these options, hoping to get student feedback. AS President Jared Gibo posted a summary of the discussion on the Campus Issues folder on BUBBS, which has since generated a thread of around 75 posts.

One proposed option is to build a multi-storied parking structure next to the pool, which would add an additional 600 to 650 extra spaces. This plan is already been taken before and approved by the city of La Mirada, but Biola has yet to secure the nearly $11 million that would be required for its construction, according to Ken Bascom, Biola’s senior director of facilities planning and construction.

Gibo’s post said that the primary means of financing the structure would be through borrowed money, an option that Dave Koontz, Biola’s senior director of financial management and reporting, warned about in the Campus Issues thread.

“Biola almost closed in the 1930’s due to a mortgage that was beyond its means. Since that time, we have been very careful in our approach to debt,” wrote Koontz. “Our current debt policy limits debt to projects that produce an income stream sufficient to make the mortgage payments.”

That income stream would supposedly come from the tuition and housing payments of the supposed increased student population, but Koontz said it is dangerous to assume that Biola will continue to grow as it has in the past.

“There is no assurance that we will continue to have a student body of sufficient size to fill the proposed structure and make the debt service payments,” said Koontz.

This year Biola’s student population grew by 3.4 percent, said Bascom, but mentioned that in recent years Biola has tried to “slow down” student growth, trying to keep a “budgeted” annual increase of around 2.6 percent.

A second option is to prohibit freshman from having cars on campus, which would free up about 400 spaces, according to Gibo’s post. This is an option taken by several other school such as Stanford and Westmont, who have similarly faced parking struggles.

Banning freshmen from having cars, however, could create more problems that it solves, according to Bascom. The ban could deter prospective students from choosing Biola, thus increasing Biola’s tuition. Koontz seconded this fear, citing enrollment studies done by the university.

“With this option we are looking at around a 12 million dollar loss in tuition revenue over 4 years based on research conducted by enrollment management,” said Koontz, pointing out that the numbers were estimates.

A third option, which has generated the most criticism from students in the Campus Issues folder, is to remove Biola’s baseball program and pave the baseball field into a parking lot. Gibo’s post indicated that this option is being considered due to the program’s “moderate” fan base and because the field is only used by the team.

While Bascom said this would help the parking problem, he said it could also detract from student enrollment, turning away prospective students who are interested in the program. This might further lower Biola’s already low male population, he said.

Regarding a cap on student enrollment as a solution to the parking problem, Bascom said this would likely result in a rapid increase in tuition. Additional students supplement the normal, annual expense increases of a university.

He also said that because many believe the Biola experience is unique, the university does not want to reject people who are academically and spiritually qualified.

“We don’t want to just flippantly put a lid on it and say, ‘No, you can’t come’.”

Bascom emphasized that no final decision has been made on the issue, though he hopes a resolution can be reached by next semester.

Gibo’s post on the issue can be read on BUBBS at Conferences/Sub-Plaza/Associated Student Government/Campus Issues under the subject “New topic: Parking.”

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