Point of View
But I Don't Like Crow -- Particularly from San Francisco
Sometimes you just have to eat a bit of crow, even if it isn't really your fault. A couple of months ago we printed an article stating that a number of companies had been approved by the City of San Francisco for installation under the city's new parking revenue equipment ordinance. We listed six companies that had been "approved." We got the list from the city.
Since then, all hell has broken loose in the City by the Bay, at least parking-wise. Seems the city isn't quite sure exactly what the ordinance means (Can't make up their minds?) and the parking operators are up in their collective arms trying their best to alter the ordinance or at least, its enforcement, without appearing to do so.
As of this moment (April 4, 2002 at 9:15 a.m.) no companies are approved. Oh, some are close, others are closer, but none has the seal. Some got the approval and then had it jerked back when they actually started the installation. Seems the approval was provisional pending a field test.
Some vendors tell me that the ordinance is in constant motion, its interpretation being changed weekly.
This was brought to my attention from a number of sources and let's just leave it to shoddy reporting. Damn, I thought I had that one nailed. Those guys in S.F. really are a moving target.
I also have been sending out e-mails concerning the S.F. ordinance and other pertinent items and have gotten into an e-mail "back and forth" with an old friend, consultant Tommy Feagans in Houston. He has the wonderful ability of saying a lot in very few words.
When I commented on FAA's so-called "300-foot" rule that prohibits parking within 300 feet of an airport terminal, he mused on what all the fuss was about. After all, he said, wasn't it "every man for himself."
On a more serious note, he opined concerning parking taxes in general as follows: "Parking is a poor source and a 'highly visible tax' that effects the parking generators and land owners. I agree that the dishonest slot meter box operator can beat them but the dishonest electronic meter operator can also cheat them and probably just as easily, in my opinion. Operators have been very sloppy with their ability to report revenues to owners and municipalities."
I then commented that much of this regulation operators have brought on themselves. Tommy came back: "I agree -- the dishonest ones have been so and electronic meters will not prevent the dishonest operator from doing his thing. The point being: If the city requires just 'different type of equipment' and depends on it alone they will never keep the dishonest from cheating. In my opinion, without a close monitoring by city staff to supervise the dishonest operator during the actual money collection process or by placing a 'lump-sum parking tax on each parking parcel' that could be appraised frequently, they (the city) will not increase their take."
So maybe the city needs to do two things: get the operators' reporting process in order (through equipment) and then audit. Sounds like something the Gipper might say: "Trust everyone then check."
I had to laugh at an article from Reuters. Seems German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is really having problems with his reelection. His government is being sued by his sister for cutting aid to single mothers, his brother was fired from his job cleaning sewers, and a cousin was exposed as an agent for East Germany's hated secret police.
In addition the press is very concerned as to whether his hair is dyed. His barber denies there is any dye. "It is indeed unusual for man his age to not have gray hair," noted the barber who charges Schroeder $25 for a trim. But, what's all this to do with parking?
In addition to the above, he recently moved into a house and his new neighbors bombarded him with complaints about tight new parking restrictions (22 on-street spaces removed) introduced to increase his security at home. Your servant dug up the parking dirt on the German chancellor.
Broke bread the other day with John Lovell, fearless leader of Zeag North America. Is this Canadian a gentleman or what? No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get him to give up any dirt on anyone, his competitors or their customers. I don't know about the quality of his equipment (he says it's the best there is) but the world would be a better place if everyone held their council as well as John. Of course, then I would have nothing about which to write. There are downsides to everything.
There's been a lot of movement by the members of our industry. Check out "Industry Notes" for the past couple of months. With all the hiring going on, who would think we are in a "recession?" There have been rumors that we never were in a recession, and if the activity in our industry is any indication, perhaps they are right. You read it here second.
'Nuff for now -- time to walk the dogs.
Article Abstract from April, 2002