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Point of view

SUVs, the Prez and Matt Dillon

It costs you more to buy, run and even wash, so why shouldn't it cost you more to park? The mainstream media are finally realizing that in some places (N.Y., Chicago, L.A.), parking operators are hiking the fees for SUV-type vehicles, sometimes as much as 50%.
My spies tell me that it has never been unusual for limos to be charged extra to park. After all, they do take two spaces; why shouldn't they pay more? So-called standard vehicles are different, I'm told. If it fits into a space, why shouldn't it pay the same?
Frankly, I would love to see SUVs parked in a special area. The fact is that although the odd Navigator may "fit" inside the lines, when it's parked, the cars on either side simply don't have enough room. Somewhere down the line a space is created that is too small, and therefore lost to the owner as a revenue-generating spot.
On the other hand, if I have to lose 10 pounds before I can get out of my car after I have squeezed between a Range Rover and an Explorer -- or worse, an Expedition -- maybe this is a good thing!
On the third hand, hybrid vehicles are being given "free" parking in some municipalities. It's not really free, since the rest of us world-spoilers have to pick up the tab. When cities realize that the increase in hybrids is going to cut dearly into their income, they will raise parking prices, and those of use driving Belchfire Eights will be hit with an increase.
I say that everyone should pay their way. It's a simple, effective plan that will solve all the troubles of the world. Don't believe it? Try it out on any issue. See -- problem solved.
Diana Perey from the University of Washington and I had the pleasure of lunching with Steve Long, NPA President. What a great time.
Steve is truly a gentleman, soft-spoken but direct. The NPA could have no better ambassador. He listened as we talked to him about some ideas our Temecula Parking Group has about the industry and, frankly, agreed with most of them. Steve is concerned about the depth of penetration that the membership lists of the two national associations have and is looking to help change that.
When we expressed concerns that vendors were given a rather shabby deal by both orgs, Steve tended to agree. He wasn't ready to commit that a revenue control manufacturer would be an NPA president in the next few years, but he understood the need for his organization to become more inclusive.
I invited Steve to write a periodic column for PT. I think he just may do it.
I wonder if Marshal Dillon was tasked with enforcing any parking regulations in Dodge City? Somehow, I doubt it. However, the Kansas city this month will begin enforcing its downtown parking regulations.
Seems the local businesses are concerned that people don't have enough parking so they aren't coming downtown in droves. Enforcement of the two-hour limit will enable "turnover" and therefore more parking for patrons of local businesses.
I'm not certain whether there were parking regulations in Dodge in the 1870s and '80s when Matt, Kitty, Doc, Chester and Festus ran the place. You couldn't just leave your horse anywhere. Or park your wagon blocking the stage route. I'll bet Doc kept his little four-wheeler close at hand but out of the way of traffic. And you know that Festus had his mule stabled where it was out of the wind and weather. You have to believe that if Kitty had problems with her customers getting into the Long Branch, she would have cut a deal with the Mercantile next door and got some more space, or even have had a boy outside who would deal with the cowboys' horses for tips. And my guess is that if bartenders Clem or Colie had tied their horses up out front, Kitty would have had their hides. She wanted to be sure her thirsty customers could get to
the bar.
I wonder what would happen if the city of Dodge City today simply told the merchants they were on their own. If they wanted more parking, they had better provide it themselves. Let's see, what could they do? They could buy land nearby and build a parking lot (not rely on the city to do it). They could get creative and institute a valet service downtown. Or, shudder, they could set up an authority of some kind and charge for on-street parking and use the money collected to pay for the additional parking needed, or to pave the streets, or for other improvements in
downtown.
I'm sure that Matt and Kitty didn't go to City Hall every time they needed something done with their downtown. They just got a bunch of merchants together and fixed it. Times have changed, haven't they?
Note: Many of you have been reading my Parking Blog on the Internet (go to www.parkingtoday.com and you'll find it there). If you have, you will notice that the comments above are from the blog. You can read some of Point of View there, and a lot more, or wait around and get excerpts here. I update the blog every day.)

Article Abstract from May, 2005




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