CHULA VISTA, Calif. - Southwestern College students will no longer have a free parking option in the neighborhood across from the Chula Vista campus, as the Chula Vista City Council approved the city's first parking district.
"Sometimes I park in the street because I have to get to class," said Michelle Gonzalez, a second-year business student.
For years, students have avoided paying a parking fee every semester by parking in the College Estates across the street from campus.
This year, the parking fee is $46.
"Even if I have a pass, sometimes I still can't find parking," said Gonzalez.
"There was a time where I was literally crying in my car because I was looking for parking for 30 minutes," said student Daniela Higuera.
Neighbors have been upset for years because some days they couldn't even get their garbage cans to the curb. The neighborhood started a petition and convinced the City Council.
Signs will be posted throughout the neighborhood, residents will be required to purchase a parking permit for themselves and students will be fined for parking on the streets.
"That sucks because, I mean, we're students," said Higuera.
Similar parking districts already exist in areas surrounding San Diego State University.
"Well, I'm not excited at all about it," said College Estates resident Susan Villareal. "I think that the city should find a way to take care of parking without burdening the general public."
Villareal has lived across from Southwestern College for years, but she's far enough away from campus that the parking problems never reach her front yard. She's upset that homeowners now have to buy a $20 annual permit to park on their own streets.
"The whole thing's ridiculous," she said.
Students argued there's not enough parking on campus and sometimes they need the neighborhood parking. The problem doesn't change with the parking district.
"You either risk a ticket or you don't go to class," said student Matt Ortiz.
Enforcement within the parking district is expected to begin this fall.