To Park or Not to Park? The Quest for Off-Campus Parking Spots


Photo Courtesy of Anya Bowers Bowers’s car was hit while parked in a spot she continues to use due to the unavailability of parking spots in Chamblee’s parking lot.

Hannah Choy, Editor

Chamblee students know the struggles of getting a parking spot at Chamblee High School all too well– the long lines to get a parking pass, the race to fill out the parking form, and the question of where to park if you don’t get a spot.

With the very limited amount of parking in our school lot, many juniors and seniors who hoped to drive to school this year found themselves without anywhere to park.

“Our parking lot is really small, and a lot of it goes to teachers and dual enrollment kids, so a lot of seniors don’t even have spots which is messed up,” said Aleena Sange (‘24).

This parking problem isn’t anything new– last school year, there were no spots for juniors and some students faced towing and other complications with parking in nearby neighborhoods. Thus, when the Office Depot near Chamblee closed in 2022, students hoped that the lot would serve as extra parking.

“At the beginning of the semester, a lot of [students] were parking in the abandoned Office Depot parking lot because it was empty and no one was using it. At the end of first semester, they kicked us out and said they were going to start towing cars, so after that I think everyone was struggling to find other places to park,” said Sange.

Sange recalls how she found out about not being able to park at the lot anymore.

“We all got signs on our cars at the old Office Depot place when they were just starting to tow [cars], so we all left the day after,” said Sange.

Other students heard about the incident from others, leading to a collective end to the use of the Office Depot lot for additional parking.

“I do know people who got [signs], but I personally did not get one because I did not park [at the Office Depot] that week when they put those papers on cars,” said Daniel Luo (‘24).

The inability to park at this lot has rendered some students unable to drive to school anymore due to lack of parking space.

“I don’t have the option to even drive to school [anymore] because there’s nowhere to park now that you can’t park at Office Depot and they’ve blocked that entire section off,” said Luo.

For some students, driving themselves to school is their only option for transportation, so the lack of parking space is especially concerning.

My parents both work all the time and I am the only person who can drive me and my sibling to school, and even though I don’t do dual [enrollment], I feel like I deserve a parking spot,” said Anya Bowers (‘24).

Some students have turned to searching for space at other businesses close to the school.

“It’s [understandable] that [students parking in their lots] is annoying for the businesses, but I feel like they need to be more open to it […]  because it’s a way for them to make money. My dad and I have gone to a lot of nearby small businesses offering to pay for a spot, and a lot of them said no, so that was frustrating,” said Sange.

Other students like Matthew Coates (‘24) were, however, able to strike a deal for a parking spot with a local business.

“It was surprisingly easy. I just went in [to the business] and I talked to somebody and they said sure. They were understanding, but there were a few nos before that,” said Coates.

Finding parking has been an issue for many students, and for some, a process that put their cars at risk for damage.

I’ve ended up parking on a road behind [Chamblee] Middle School. Unfortunately, my car got hit last year while it was parked in this spot, but I have no alternative places to park so I have to keep parking there,” said Bowers.

Frustrations over parking are only heightened with the seeming lack of solutions or efforts by the school to increase parking availability.

“I mean, I get it if there’s an actual business on that property, but Office Depot went out of business and it’s just an abandoned lot. I don’t know why we can’t park there if it’s not being used,” said Luo.

Until Chamblee’s parking problem is addressed, it seems that students are left to fend for themselves in finding parking.

“I get that there’s so many dual enrollment kids [who] need parking spots, but I feel like we need to invest in buying a new [lot],” said Sange. “[The school] spent so much money making the practice field [and] building that fence around it, [so] I feel like we should be spending that money towards buying a new lot, like the old Office Depot or the [vacant] office buildings right along the stadium. There’s a lot of empty lots that we could just buy and it would solve the problem.”

This seems to be a shared sentiment, and proposals for solutions sound promising.

“[The school could] coordinate dual enrollment schedules and have students share a parking spot. [While] it’s not going to work 100% of the time, it would definitely help reduce the amount of people who have to find alternate solutions or walk really far and [be] late to school,” said Sophia Shi (‘24).

The question remains if the school will change parking accommodations and availability anytime in the near future, or if the Blue & Gold will have another article published next year on the parking dilemma.

“When my brother was here a couple years back, not many people were driving to school,” said Shi. “But now that there are [generally] a lot more people at [Chamblee] and a lot more people driving [to school], I think [Chamblee] should be adapting to that need.”