UC Berkeley has “Nobel Laureate Only” parking spaces

Energy & Sustainability Science
UC Berkeley has “Nobel Laureate Only” parking spaces

Image courtesy Jonathan Fiamor Photography.

When I was at UT Austin, a school which is famously car-unfriendly, it was rumored that one of the elder patriarchs of the College of Natural Sciences–a man who had multiple doctoral degrees and had been given countless awards for his work both as a scientific researcher and an educational administrator–had once quipped that the honor that was most valuable to him, on a daily basis, was the “O” parking permit that let him leave his car literally in the shadow of UT’s iconic tower.

Well, in terms of available parking, UC Berkeley makes UT Austin look like an airport remote lot in Iowa on a Wednesday in the dead of winter. And according to this official page there are presently seven living Nobel laureates on the faculty there, so I’m guessing there must be at least seven of the prestigious NL parking spaces. Supposedly, regular mortals have to shell out $50 for presumptuous malparkage among the elite.

10 thoughts on “UC Berkeley has “Nobel Laureate Only” parking spaces

  1. Brian Doom says:

    You haven’t even scratched the surface my friend… UC campus is extremely densely planned. Parking there is basically like parking on the sidewalk in SF’s Mission District – many of the NL spaces are not in parking lots, they are a single lone space next to a building. Even finding a space on campus, supposing you had one of the $67-per-month student permits, is next to impossible.

    Not that this is such a handicap – like many densely populated environments, having a car in Berkeley is largely unnecessary, especially if you are student. BART is right next to campus, and most students never have time to go many places besides to and from campus anyway.

    People get used to it, and in many areas (Telegraph) driving is very difficult due to the mass of pedestrians and poor attention to jaywalking “laws.” Smart citizens either don’t drive in those areas or don’t drive at all, preferring their bicycles or skateboards.

  2. rhymeswithmaria says:

    Since there is no Nobel Prize in mathematics, I’ve been told that Fields Medalists (Berkeley has a few of those as well) can also park in the NL spots.

  3. RocketGuy says:

    That most of the time the NL spots are empty. Most of the living holders are retired and don’t park on campus any more. But I have seen them from time to time, it’s a fun surprise to see the big NL parking permit hanging from the rear view mirror.

    But even though it’s gotten to the utterly insane point where departments have to pay for their own spaces, even for service techs who work here, I don’t mind it at all.

    It’s part of the UCB legend in a way, and I certainly don’t begrudge it. Besides, I get to park right across the street from this picture when I’m on campus. Well, in a campus vehicle anyway.

    But I sure don’t get paid as much…

  4. DanYHKim says:

    I once wrote a letter to my local newspaper saying that an effective incentive for better performance of our university students would be a special parking sticker. As it is, high-ranking students get extra library privileges and automatic eligibility to certain scholarships. A universal parking sticker for exemplary students would be a much sweeter deal.

  5. skot9000 says:

    I was walking by this spot today and counted… there are only 5 NL parking spaces.. I guess they’ll have to carpool.

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).