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Student parking woes spark concern

Folsom, El Dorado Hills neighborhoods crowded, planners note
By: Roger Phelps, The Telegraph
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Parking poses a problem for just about everyone connected to local high schools. Folsom-Cordova Unified School District recently managed to save its school-bus service without going to a parking fee to offset bus costs, as had been suggested to board members, said Superintendent Patrick Godwin. “The district has not adopted a policy,” Godwin said. “Schools do what they think is reasonable.” Vista del Lago High School charges a one-time $5 fee to park in its lot. So does Cordova High School. “The district might get involved if we thought a school was doing something unreasonable, like charging $2,000,” Godwin said. “We’d say, ‘Wait a minute.’” Folsom High School neighbors this year rejected the idea of resident parking permits on streets surrounding the school, but the issue hasn’t gone away. So, neighborhood tension would exist around any proposal that Folsom High go to a fee, especially a daily fee, to use the lot. “We’re allowed to charge – it’s not linked to a student’s ability to receive a free public education,” FCUSD Deputy Superintendent Debbie Bettencourt. At Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills it’s $1.50. A sprawl of cars around the campus suggests the fee is doing little to move students to bicycle, walk or bus to school. Many seniors and others with no early morning class stand little chance of getting their cars anywhere too near the campus, much less into the parking lot, said Seneca Caldwell, Daniel Rossman, and Kayla Harris. “You have to park way down Silva Valley Parkway,” Caldwell said. “It (stinks),” Rossman said. “It’s ridiculous,” said Harris. Ashley Lucero noted “You can’t park inside the (nearby) neighborhood.” Jordan Klein said, “There’s a shortage for people who don’t have a first-period class.” None of the students said they’d be willing to pay to improve their parking plight. El Dorado County transportation planners in September 2007 did a “walkability and bikeability audit” at Oak Ridge. A draft was published last month. “Traffic congestion was observed during the audit,” the draft document states. “Several children were also observed walking and bicycling home from school. High volumes of student traffic are due in part to adjacent Rolling Hills Middle School. The bike path and sidewalk network is consistent and provides good connectivity to nearby neighborhoods. Promotional efforts at this school may help to encourage walking and bicycling to school.” The Telegraph’s Roger Phelps can be reached at rogerp@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment at folsomtelegraph.com.