UC Santa Barbara’s Parking Lot 22 — a five-story parking structure on the UCSB campus — is a popular practice area for local and campus performance groups, but reports of noise disturbance and administrative pushback have restricted bands from continuing to use the parking lot as a rehearsal space.

Parking Lot 22 is located directly across from the Student Resource Building (SRB), which is home to a variety of cultural and resource centers. 

The university posted a sign at Lot 22 stating that parking facilities should only be used for parking — and not for making music. Members of local student band French Cinema encountered this sign when they arrived at the parking lot for their biweekly band practice on Monday, May 15.

UCSB posts a sign stating that Lot 22 should only be used for parking, not for making music. Courtesy of Nico Corrales

When asked about student bands using Lot 22, UCSB Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Chief of Staff Miles Ashlock said that bands disrupted daily activities in the SRB during a May 17 Associated Students Senate meeting.

“Nobody wants to crack down on the band scene or ruin anybody’s time, but it is a parking lot under the governance of transportation and parking services,” Ashlock said. “The noise throughout the day created by the bands does interrupt student services in the Student Resource Building.”

“There is business, including very personal business, sensitive business, going on on the face of the SRB that faces that parking garage,” he continued. “We regularly receive complaints from particularly the staff that are working there trying to provide service to students saying, ‘Can you tell them to stop?’”

After encountering the sign, French Cinema conducted practice as usual, but when they returned two days later, the outlets in the parking lot — which the band uses to plug in amplifiers and other instruments — had been turned off.

“Pretty much every practice we’ve ever done has been at Lot 22,” said French Cinema guitarist and third-year physics major Cole Bentley.  “We were one of the first bands to go there and realize, shit, the power is off.”

Local bands, dance groups and other organizations primarily use Lot 22 because of a lack of other practice spaces both on campus and in I.V.

Local student band Sweet Appeal practices at Parking Lot 22. Courtesy of Brandi Polzien

“There really is nowhere to practice, especially if you live on campus,” Bentley said. “Even if you live off campus in I.V. somewhere, there’s a very small chance that you’re going to be allowed to practice.”

The UCSB Department of Music offers a variety of practice rooms, but reserves them for music majors and minors, as well as students in performance ensembles, according to the music department website.

The sign posted at Lot 22 cited California Code of Regulations Title 5 Section 100004, which states that “no non-affiliate may use amplified sound on University Property, without prior approval from the Designated University Official.” 

However, until the presence of the sign and the subsequent loss of power in Lot 22’s outlets, there had been minimal resistance to bands utilizing the parking lot, according to Bentley.

“We’re technically not allowed to play here. That’s been the case,” Bentley said. “But in actuality, most of the time, as long as you played at reasonable hours … you could get away with it.”

Bentley recalled an interaction with campus police where the band was told to stop, but also offered guidelines for when bands are allowed to practice. However, Bentley described the guidelines as “not realistic” because “there’s not enough spaces for all the bands that need to practice” during the police officers’ proposed time slot.

“The campus police had told us when they came to shut us down, it was like, ‘Oh, you guys are allowed to play for … a couple of hours on Sunday every week, and that’s it,” Bentley said.

Other than a few similar interactions, French Cinema experienced little pushback from the university about them rehearsing at Lot 22 prior to the signage.

“There seemed to be this sort of leniency, because we had been able to practice there before,” he continued. “And now they gave no explanation as to why we weren’t anymore. It was just out of nowhere.”

Makayla Caliendo, a first-year statistics and data science major and lead singer for student band Sweet Appeal, voiced similar concerns about the abruptness of the university’s response.

“It just kind of felt a little unfair, just because they didn’t even try to work with us to make new restrictions,” she said. “They just kind of shut us down immediately.”

Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) International Student Adviser Felipe Recinos — whose office in the SRB directly faces Lot 22 — explained how the noise from bands has influenced his work day.

“I understand the want to practice music, but it’s just frustrating when it happens during business hours,” Recinos said. “Sometimes it’s really hard to focus on work, especially for me; I have ADHD so I already have a hard time focusing without additional distractions.”

Rather than disallow bands from utilizing Lot 22 entirely, Bentley suggested that the university designate specific hours where bands can practice that do not disrupt campus activities.

“If there’s a problem with bands playing earlier, then that would be solved if there was a clear communication between the school and the bands about realistic guidelines that they could follow,” Bentley said. “My suggestion would be: allow bands to practice from 7-10 [p.m.] any day of the week, and I think that would be good because people who live and work on campus would not be affected from 7-10.”

Recinos said that Bentley’s solution is viable in mitigating effects on the SRB, since he, along with most other SRB workers, are not present from 7-10 p.m.

“I think that is a really good idea,” Recinos said in reference to Bentley’s proposal. “I think that would be really cool if we could allow the 7-10 p.m.”

Recinos pointed out that while practicing later in the day would not impact people working in the SRB, there are safety concerns with musicians rehearsing at Lot 22,.

“There’s also the element of danger that it is a parking lot. It’s filled with cars. People are just not watching out for people playing or performing,” Recinos said. “I wish there was more safety around it.”

University spokesperson Kiki Reyes similarly emphasized the safety risks for both the musicians practicing at Lot 22 and the people who park their cars there.

“Using a parking structure as a practice space puts our students in danger and poses a risk to others who park there,” Reyes said in an email statement to the Nexus. “The parking structures are inappropriate and not approved for anything other than parking a car.”

Caliendo disagreed with Reyes and Recinos’ sentiment, contending that Sweet Appeal practices in the corner of the parking lot, which does not obstruct parked or moving cars.

“There’s not really any safety issues that we’ve ran into,” Caliendo said. “The places where the outlets we use [are] way off to the side and it doesn’t bother anyone and it doesn’t get in the way of cars. It doesn’t give a safety hazard.” 

Additionally, Reyes noted that the office of Student Engagement & Leadership (S.E.A.L) is “actively working with campus partners and student leaders to help identify safe spaces for registered student organizations.”

However, because the bands that practice at Lot 22 are not registered campus organizations, S.E.A.L. is not currently assisting them in finding a space to rehearse.

S.E.A.L. did not immediately respond to the Daily Nexus’ request for comment.

Bentley maintained that UCSB should help local music groups find an adequate location to practice, regardless of their affiliation with the school.

“I just think regardless of the official status of bands, they should still be supported by the university, or at least not actively shut down,” Bentley said. “The campus should want to support bands because it’s part of the creative community here. It’s part of the social community at UCSB.”

There will be an informational town hall for those who practice in Lot 22, specifically bands, on Thursday, June 1, at 7:45 p.m. in Embarcadero Hall. 

A version of this article appeared on p. 5 of the June 1, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.


Alex Levin
Alex Levin (he/him) is the University News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Levin was the Assistant News Editor for the 2022-2023 school year. He can be reached at alexlevin@dailynexus.com.