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High school students say they risk detention for trying to avoid parking tickets

A street near South Salem High School where students without residential permits can only park for 90 minutes at a time, once per day within a residential parking district.

Students complained to KATU about a parking crunch at South Salem High School Thursday, where they said kids get detention for trying to avoid parking tickets.

The city of Salem admits there aren't enough places to park at the school but said neighbors voted overwhelmingly to expand parking limits.

The school is in the middle of a neighborhood made up mostly of older homes that typically don't have driveways or garages.

Lea Hinchcliff, her husband and son live right across the street from the school off Rural Avenue Southeast.

"Parking is tight," she said. "We compete for parking spaces especially if there's an event. ... It's irritating. It's one of those little micro-stresses that you deal with every single day."

Last September, Kenny Larson, a city spokesman, said at least 75 percent of people living in the area signed a petition asking the city to expand parking limitations already in place.

In December and January, signs saying you can only park for 90 minutes without a residential permit were added to both sides of Electric Avenue Southeast between Church Street and Winter Street and the west side of Cottage Street Southeast between Rural Avenue and Electric Avenue.

Lillian Govus, a spokeswoman for Salem-Keizer Public Schools, said there are 900 juniors and seniors at the school and only 60 student parking spaces, though she said many students walk.

Tyler Wadleigh, a senior at South Salem High, said finding spots on the street is tough.

"It's annoying for sure," said Wadleigh. "In between class, you have to go move your car, which sometimes makes you late to the next class and when you're late you get lunch detentions or after-school detentions."

Scott Ludford, also a senior, said on Wednesday he got a parking ticket.

"Right after school. I came out to my car and it was because I moved to another hour-and-a-half spot," Ludford said. "Classes are only an hour-and-a-half and that's the same amount of time you're allowed to be in those spots, so right after you get out of class you have to move your car. And the passing times from class to class are only six minutes."

Govus said the district will gain rights to a nearby parking lot at Howard Street Charter School in the summer of 2019, though the spaces will likely not immediately be added to the lot at South Salem High.

She also said a bond on the May 15 ballot would pay for a project to eventually double the number of parking spaces at the school. And she pointed out any student who lives more than a mile-and-a-half-away can take the bus.

"The bus would get me to school two hours early if I were to take it for my class period," said Ludford noting that many students often don't have to be at school until well after its general start time of 7:30 a.m.

After being asked if the school's administration could show leniency to students who show up late to class due to parking issues, Govus said, "We can’t alter our instructional schedule."

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