Work Parking Problems by
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Prompted By Parking

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Parking was no problem until I went to college at Cal Poly SLO.  In my freshman year, I lived in an apartment next to the campus.  In my sophomore year, I was a couple of miles away, but Cal Poly had plenty of on-campus parking, even though everyone complained about how bad the parking was there.  Yes, it might be a 10-minute walk away from the class room or lab you had to go to, but that did not seem excessive to me.

Parking, never a problem for me at college, but work at Lockheed was different.

Then it was off to San Jose State University.  There, students did have a legitimate complaint about parking.  There was only one five story parking garage, about 1,500 slots for a student population of 22,000, and there was no way it could accommodate the needs of the university.  A second parking garage was under construction, but it would not ready for an additional year.  Alternative transportation like buses was terrible.  However, I solved this problem by living within one block of the school for my junior and senior years.

My fifth year of college, finishing some senior classes and taking a few graduate classes, I lived about one-half mile from the university.  Biking to class was the best method.  However, bike theft had become an epidemic at San Jose State.  In fact, there were criminals driving vans around the campus, who would unbolt bike racks, and take five to ten bikes at a time.  Very disturbing, but the student government came up with a good solution.  At the center of the campus, they had a special bike parking area that was always monitored by an attendant.  When you entered the area with your bike, they gave you a special bike parking card.  Later, to get your bike, you had to show the card.  Bike theft became a minor problem, limited to bikes that did not park in the bike lot.  Another method some people used was to remove the bike’s seat after it was parked.

Later, in my employed life, parking was only a problem at one employer, Lockheed Martin.  The building I worked in was shaped like a big square, approximately fifty feet on each side.  Another identically shaped building was on its west side, but between them was a parking lot about the size of each building.  While the building I worked in was an “open” building, the other building did top secret work.  Therefore, the parking lot had limited access, and you had to show your employee badge to get into that lot.  The fear was that bad guys would park in that lot, and try to monitor electronic signals coming from the top-secret building.

There were a few uncontrolled parking spots in front of the building for vendors, visitors, or customers such as military officers or civilian customers such as representatives from satellite TV companies.  This worked well except for one problem.  The visitor spaces were supposed to be for visitors, but were frequently abused.  For example, my wife would come to lunch with me at the Lockheed cafeteria.  The cafeteria was very good, serving salads, fish, hamburgers to prime rib, etc. at good prices.  However, many of the visitor spots were frequently occupied by employees, particularly union employees.  We would complain, and it would be noted in their personnel file.  This was not a good thing, but the union employees would shrug it off since there were no real consequences to them for this action.  Meantime, people like my wife ended up parking in a remote lot and walking to my building.  I generally support unions and this is not a popular position for my fellow scientists and engineers. However, these actions of taking visitor parking places lessened my support of Lockheed unions.  This problem finally got solved when the top-secret building was closed during one of the personnel lay-offs that occurred around 2010.

Today, my biggest parking problems occur when I attend a popular event in the San Jose area.  However, for the last one and one-half years due to the pandemic, this has not happened.  Maybe, parking woes for me is a problem in my distant past.

Profile photo of Joe Lowry Joe Lowry
I was a child that moved so often, (8 elementary/middle schools) and finally went to to high school in Arroyo Grande California. I ended up at San Jose State University graduating in Chemistry, minor in Biology. Got married, and had two sons. Unfortunately, my wife passed 35 years later. I worked initially in the pharmaceutical industry. After being down-sized, I ended up in the aerospace field, working on satellites. I still live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tags: Cal Poly SLO, San Jose State University, Lockheed parking
Characterizations: well written


  1. Thanx for sharing your parking woes Joe!

    Luckily I had a space in a faculty parking lot most of my teaching life, and at home I park in a garage in our New York apartment building.

    But my bugaboo is tickets for expired parking meters! Many times hurrying down the block a few minutes late to get my car I’d see a meter maid or cop standing at the car writing on a clipboard. And those tickets are steep!

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    I loved the solution to the bike theft. Very clever!

  3. Suzy says:

    Thanks for this description of various parking situations. I like the solution to the bike parking problem at San Jose State, and the limited access parking lot at Lockheed. Of course, in my experience, most parking lots are limited access (although I’ve never heard that term), not because of top secret work, but just because you have to pay to park there.

  4. Marian says:

    Joe, you describe the area around SJ State and Lockheed perfectly. As an update, I drove by the campus earlier this week, and it’s even worse, because some streets are closed and there are “road diets.” Really crazy when they want consumers to come downtown. I am glad that you lived so close to campus.

  5. Khati Hendry says:

    Thanks for the reality stories of parking at school and work. I liked the fact that you were able to either live nearby, or use a bicycle much of the time–congratulations! In our car culture, it is often hard to find a good option, and parking problems and traffic and greenhouse gas emissions have been the result. If only we can build cities more around “active transportation” and better public transport going forward.

  6. Dave Ventre says:

    Your observation about the disdain that scientists and engineers have for unions hit home. I am a staff member in a university engineering department. I hear the occasional snide remark about unions (lazy, corrupt, incompetent, etc) from professors. I once tried to point out to one that HE was a union member (AAUP) and was benefiting mightily from the labors and accomplishments and collective bargaining powers that were secured by my Teamster ancestors decades ago.

    He was not amused.

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