Point of View
2,120 Lots, Banning Parking, Valets in Bikinis
John Van Horn
The following was in the Star newspaper in Malaysia: "An additional 2,120 parking lots have been drawn up in the city. The drawing up of the extra parking lots would increase the council's revenue. There are 2,120 parking lots in the city now managed by the council and a private company."
OK, so something was lost in the translation. I think they mean 2,120 additional spaces, not lots.
The exact same problem happened to me, except in reverse. A few years ago, I spoke to the Chinese Parking Association in Shanghai. I had a translator who had a copy of my speech and was translating it to the group as I went along. I was talking about the major parking operators and how Central controlled 4,000 locations, Standard 2,000 and the like. I noticed that the audience was chuckling throughout this part of the presentation.
I figured that I was really getting across to my Chinese friends.
However, after the event, a friend who spoke fluent English as well as his native Chinese, took me aside and said something had been lost in translation. My interpreter converted the word "location" or "lots" into "spaces."
I'm sure to this day those folks were amazed that the largest operator in the US controlled only 4,000 spaces.
The Simpsonville (KY) City Council is considering banning all parking on city streets. The reason is that if people park on both sides of some narrow streets, emergency vehicles can't get through, plus it's difficult for street sweepers and snow removal. Also, some people actually park too close to the stop signs and corners. In addition, they don't park straight and "zigzagged."
The city has been wrestling with this problem, according to an article in the local paper, since 1994, and simply can't figure out what to do.
Well, let's think about this for a nanosecond and see what could possibly be done.
1. They could institute alternate side of the street parking.
2. They could set up a series of parking rules and regulations (such as parking in front of fire hydrants and too close to corners) and then enforce the rules.
3. They could start charging for parking to reduce the number of vehicles in certain areas.
4. Oh, well, you get the idea.
These folks have been studying the problem for 12 years and to quote one city commissioner: "We don't know any other remedy."
Only in Los Angeles
Valet Girls is selling out to California Girls Valet of Beverly Hills for a reported $400,000. This was front-page news in the L.A. Times and picked up intergalactically.
I guess the deal is that if you are a part of the "smart" set in Malibu or Beverly Hills, having a scantily clad babe park your car is a good thing. Unfortunately, I don't move in that crowd and have never, in all the years of rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, had my car parked in such a way.
My contacts in the valet industry tell me that these folks specialize in private parties. I guess the owners of Spago, Lowry's House of Prime Rib or the Peninsula Hotel would not want the head of production at Sony Pictures to give up her car to a 19-year-old in a negligee.
There's a lot going on with us here at Parking Today. This is our 10-year anniversary, and we will be beginning our yearlong celebration in April, so planning is in full tilt. Look for contests, cruises and a "really big" party at PIE in August in Chicago.
There are changes too. Suda has completed the upgrade to our Web site. It's even easier to navigate, and the cool colors don't blow you away. Let me know what you think. My approach to Web sites is that if you can't find what you want easily and quickly, and if you are bombarded with pop-ups and flashing things and the like, you just move on. We are in business, not visiting Disneyland (no offense, Mickey).
Another change is my picture, above. Son Andy snapped a few hundred, and this was voted the "least worse" of the group. The old one went back to a party we held at the IPI in New Orleans in 1998, I think. So in the interest of openness, and clarity, the new picture (probably for the next decade) is above.
The concept of our PIE II -- that is, having a second smaller event simultaneously with our main event -- is well in the planning stages. It looks as if we will be having it here in L.A. on the University of Southern California campus.
It goes a bit against my grain to hold it there, since I come from that "other school" across town. However, the acting parking guru at SC, Tom Kenna, was extremely helpful, and their facilities are without peer in the area.
The two cities (Chicago and Los Angeles) and the two events will be connected not only by the network of parking intellegencia, but also by electronic means, so a number of the seminars will be shared between the two groups.
2006 is the year of Parking Today. The Parking Industry Exhibition and Parking Conference. Join us for a lot of good networking, successful business and information sharing.
Article Abstract from February, 2006