Parking a tight squeeze for Lincoln Elementary’s neighbors

Exeter resident Gary Willis points out teacher parking problems on South C St. while Lincoln Elementary is in session

@TheSunGazette

EXETER – Gary Willis has lived on a short section of C Street between Chestnut and Clarence streets for 30 years. It was an affordable and quaint home to raise his four children in, but it wasn’t without its difficulties, namely parking.

“Parking on this street has been a problem for as long as I can remember,” Willis said. 

His neighborhood lies on a unique, pie-shaped piece of land bordered by Kaweah Avenue (Highway 65) to the east and Lincoln Elementary School to the west. About half of the homes on the awkward block were old craftsmen DIY homes built nearly a century ago without driveways. So when school’s in, teacher vehicles line the west side of the street along the school all day and parent vehicles line the curbs in front of the homes across the street, blocking Willis and his neighbors from being able to park near their own homes. 

“It’s just not fair to the residents,” Willis said. “Sometimes I have to drive in circles for 20 minutes just to park at my house.”

Last Thursday, Aug. 23, Willis said the school was holding a lunch on the lawn with students and their fathers. He said the event took up all of the street parking on both sides of C Street during the middle of the day, blocking his home for another block of the school day. Willis said this creates a problem for residents as some parents block driveways or even temporarily park in driveways of the two homes that have them. One of the neighbors places a bench in the middle of his driveway each morning to block vehicles from parking there. 

Exeter Unified School District purchased a lot south of the school for parking several years ago but it was hardly used during a special event last week. Submitted photo.

Exeter Unified School District purchased a lot south of the school for parking several years ago but it was hardly used during a special event last week. Submitted photo.

Willis said the district could easily fix the problem and has already come up with a solution, it just needs to be enforced. He said teachers and staff should be using the gravel parking lot at the south end of the school so that parking on South C Street could be left for parents to pick up their children. The district purchased the lot several years ago following a failed attempt to close C Street and expand Lincoln to the highway in 2006. 

Exeter Unified Superintendent Tim Hire said he wants the district to be neighborly, and now that he is aware of the parking issue, he will encourage staff to use the lot they had designated. Although, he cannot mandate they park there because the curb is unmarked and is public parking.

Hire added parking in the lot south of campus can pose trouble for teachers.

“Some of our teachers may be bringing materials from their class rooms…parking far away and making multiple trips to their car may be a significant inconvenience,” Hire said.

Understandably, Willis suggested the school sites use their electric golf carts to shuttle teachers who may be unable to walk that far or those carrying materials between their classrooms and their car. 

Hire said the lot is not large enough to accommodate all teachers and staff vehicles anyway and this is the first complaint he has had about teacher parking.

“Now that it’s been brought to our attention… I will certainly mention it to our staff to encourage them to park in that parking lot and relieve the parking issue,” Hire said.

On Tuesday morning, Hire said Lincoln’s assistant principal had notified staff via email to be aware of the congested parking on C St. and to park in the south lot.

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