Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

Despite paying over $700 for annual parking permits, students struggle to find available parking spots at the William Street lot.

September 7, 2023

Williams Street Parking Lot Struggles to Accommodate Students

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Collegetown is notorious for having limited parking, with students often paying high price tags for a spot in scattered lots around the City. The University’s Department of Transportation and Delivery Services offers students the option to buy a permit in lots on Williams Street and Stewart Avenue, but students who purchased these permits are noticing a pattern — there are often more cars than available spots.

In August, Transportation and Delivery Services sold parking permits on a first-come, first-served basis. Each student’s parking pass only applies to a particular lot on or near campus. According to students, these passes, which cost around $700, sold out within hours. 

One Cornell-owned parking facility is the Williams Street lot. Located on the corner of Williams Street and Stewart Avenue, it is one of the closest locations for students living in Cascadilla Hall, Sheldon Court and off-campus apartments in Collegetown. However, students with permits have been struggling to find parking spots at the William Street lot this semester, which results in lateness to class and limited flexibility to utilize their vehicles. 

Deana Druz ’24 shared frustration over being unable to find available parking spots and having to pay extra for other forms of parking, even though she already spent several hundred dollars on a parking permit. 

“Despite paying for my Stewart and Williams parking permit, finding a spot has become a daily challenge and never-ending treasure hunt,” Druz said. “One morning, I arrived early, only to discover all spots were taken, forcing me to scramble to a ParkMobile lot near my class, making me late and costing me extra — all while I’m already paying for my permit.” 

Sasha Planinsic ’25 has also been struggling to find parking at the lot. She expressed that it limits her ability to move around Ithaca. 

“I’ve been having to time my grocery shopping or other errands really strategically so that I have the best chance of still having a spot when I come back,” Planinsic said. 

Planinsic also witnessed several other students having the same problem. 

“[My friend and I] were driving around the lot for a while and I was getting worried about where to put my car if I couldn’t [park in the lot],” Planinsic said. “We suddenly saw someone walking and I basically followed him to his car so that I could take the space, but there were still four to five other cars behind me that had nowhere to go.” 

This lack of parking has led students to believe that Transportation Services accidentally sold more parking permits than available spots for the Williams Street lot. However, Senior Director for Transportation and Delivery Services Bridgette Brady said the actual problem is students with old Williams Street parking permits are still parking in the lot. 

According to the Cornell Facilities and Campus Services website, parking permits go on sale in the beginning of August of each year, and permits expire on Aug. 31. That means there is a potential overlap of a few weeks where more permits are distributed than available spots.

“This year permits to the Stewart & Williams Street lot sold out quicker than in previous years. We expect that increased enforcement and expiration of older permits will alleviate congestion. Next year all parking privileges will be managed using a virtual permitting system, which will alleviate any overlap in permits,” wrote Brady in a statement to The Sun. “Affected students can contact the Transportation Department as there are a limited number of spaces available based on surveys. They can assist with locating these spaces.”

Cornell Transportation and Delivery Services have increased parking rule enforcement, which could be seen with the recent increase in price for parking violation fines. With this increased enforcement, students can be hopeful that vehicles with expired permits will be cleared from the lot.