Point of View
GSA Bidding, $100K in Fines, and Predictions for 2013
John Van Horn
Seattle Parking Operators Rush GSA to Bid Parking RFQ? –
Well, maybe not. According to a frequent PT correspondent, the Feds – i.e., the General Services Administration – have an RFQ out in Seattle for one parking space for one year. It has to be in a certain four-block area and must be access-controlled. The GSA produced a 24-page document for the RFQ
I’m sure that the Field Investigator for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Seattle needs a parking space. I would also bet that he has access to a secretary or an assistant. I wonder what would have happened if the assistant had made, say, three phone calls to parking operators in the Seattle area and told the lowest cost one that she would like to reserve a monthly spot for the next year.
(I’ll bet the DHS Field Investigator has been on-site in Seattle for a couple of years, parking wherever, and someone realized he needed a space, reserved and secured, to match his recent promotion to G-12. He probably got a new rubber plant in his office, too.)
My guess is that our intrepid investigator would be parking in his new space by now, paying for it and turning in his parking cost on his monthly expense report, for which he would be reimbursed promptly by Uncle Sam. Done.
Instead, at least two people in Washington, DC, in addition to the secretary who made the request of them in the first place, and the head of GSA in Seattle, plus the head of Homeland Security in Seattle who signed off on the request, were involved for, in the best-case scenario, two to three weeks in writing this complex request-for-quotation document, specifying the size and type of space, and the like.
Then, hopefully, some parking space owner will notice the RFQ, fill out the document and send it in. Maybe two owners. Then someone in DC will have to review the bids and make the decision. Then a contract will have to be written, signed by all parties, and the Feds will pay the cost of the parking a year in advance, with money we don’t have. Of course, if no one notices or feels it’s too much trouble to fill in all the blanks to rent one space for one year, then who knows.
As of Dec. 1, we were at least six weeks into the process. Where has the investigator been parking all that time? Has he been paying daily rates that are, what, 10 times that of the monthly rate, with no in and out. Or has he been parking in a monthly spot, and when he turned in his expenses, found they had to go through the bidding process?
What really happened was that the secretary called around, found the space, and then determined that they had to go out to bid. So they did the bid process, and ensured that the parking company she had picked knew about it and received the bid.
The parking company then added on 25% to cover all the pain and agony of dealing with the federal government and sent back the bid. It was to be formally awarded by the end of the year, and the DHS investigator will be able to park in exactly the same place he would have if the GSA weren’t involved. In addition, the Feds will be paying more for the space.
In the end, the investigator will be transferred after six months, and the space, already prepaid for a year, will be empty. Unless the secretary is smarter than we think, and she knew that this was a six-month gig but requested the space for a year. She now has a nice safe place for her Mini.
And You Wonder Why the Parking Industry Is Hated?
Here’s the deal — the boyfriend of a woman in Chicago bought a car and put it in her name. She didn’t realize the car was in her name. They split. He works at O’Hare for United Airlines and parked and abandoned the car in an airport parking lot. Over the next two years, the wizards in parking enforcement wrote more than 600 tickets for the abandoned car.
When the woman began to receive notices, she contacted everyone in the food chain, but to no avail. In the meantime, the car racked up more than $100,000 in fines.
The city is coming after her for the 100 large. Having tried everything else, she is having to sue the city. It will be resolved in court next May.
First — what kind of operation tickets an obviously abandoned car 600 times?
Second — If a driver/owner has come in and attempted to discuss the issue, why was she ignored?
Third — No matter what the issue, this is a parking violation, not serial murder. Should the fine be any more than the value of the vehicle? It wouldn’t be if enforcement protocols already in place had been followed.
Fourth — Think of all the money and time wasted by the operator, the city, the airport, enforcement staff and the courts. Most likely more than $100K will have been spent, and to what end? Most likely she won’t end up paying a dime.
Any manager, at any point in the process, could have stopped this and made an equitable arrangement for all concerned.
This type of fiasco makes the parking industry look like a bunch of Keystone Kops.
And It Is the New Year
I suppose I should make some resolutions, and maybe some predictions. I checked back to see how well I did last year and discovered I hadn’t made any in this space in January 2012.
Good move. That way I don’t have to eat crow instead of turkey next Christmas.
As I travelled the first week in December, everyone wanted to know what I “thought” about this or that, as if I had a clue what was going to happen in the future.
I will say this – change is here, whether it’s the way we pay, or the way we charge, or the way we market our product. Those who don’t embrace the changes do so at their own peril.
As for a resolution, I gave up on them years ago. I direct you to an article elsewhere in this issue by our Zen enthusiast, Astrid Ambroziak. She personalizes parking regulations in a way I had never considered.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, and will have a prosperous and happy new year.
John Van Horn is Editor of Parking Today.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article Abstract from January, 2013