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Santa Fe, Scottsdale, the UK and Electric Cars

John Van Horn

Iím in Santa Fe, NM. The Southwest Parking Association (SWPA) was nice enough to invite me to speak before their group in Albuquerque. I decided that since I had never seen Santa Fe, I should stay up here (itís about 45 minutes north of Albuquerque).
I walked to the famous downtown Plaza and noted that the on-street parking was filled and the parking structure was empty. Here are the rates Ė on-street, $1 an hour, two hour max; off-street, $1.80 an hour. Off-street is 80% more than on-street Ė a classic Shoupista problem.
Just think, changing a few signs could fix the parking issues in Santa Fe.
Of course, my foot-in-mouth problem was emphasized when I told this story at lunch at the SWPA and Bill Hon, Santa Feís Parking Director, was sitting right across from me. It did help that he agreed.
***
I need a little help here: Scottsdale, AZ Ė and, I assume, other cities Ė regulates its temporary on-street valet operations. If a business or an individual holds a party, an opening or whatever, it has to get approval from the local board or whatever before the valet operation is allowed. My question is ďwhy?Ē
Gotrocks Gallery has a function to hawk the opening of its new display of Antarctic Penguin Art and feels that since there will be a lot of people coming and there isnít a lot of space to park in the area, it should help by laying on a valet operation to handle the cars. Very Fine Valet shows up in dinner jackets and takes cars from the attendees, parks them away from the area either on-street, where it has to follow all the rules, or cuts a deal with a nearby bank to park the cars in its lot after-hours. Everyone profits.
The gallery gets a better function, the city gets any revenue generated from on- or off-street parking by the valets in their lots. Plus, the city gets reduced traffic from cruising, and the bank makes a few bucks by letting the valets park in its unused lot.
Ahhh, but if you read about this in the local press, you discover the real issue. The city wants more money. It now charges $60 for a one-time-use license to valet park and wants to raise it to $275. Not bad Ė a 450% hike.
Mike Pendergraft, local valet operator and President of the National Valet Parking Association, notes that he does 100 such events a month. Thatís an additional $22,400 in revenue a month from Mike alone, and there are, of course, other valet companies in Scottsdale.
The city says it wants to prevent congestion and keep it orderly. The city neglected to mention that it also wants the money. Iím sure the extra quarter of a mil in the city coffers each year would help out a lot in balancing that budget in a smaller city such as Scottsdale.
In the end, Mike has to do a lot more paperwork, and either the businesses or the parkers will pay. Letís see, if Iím a business and I have to cough up an extra $200 to have a valet, maybe Iíll pass on the valet and let my attendees fend for themselves. If the city thinks thereís a congestion problem now, think what will happen when a couple hundred cars are cruising around looking for a parking space.
Or is that the real issue? Does the city have a few lots around but the valets are parking the cars elsewhere? I donít know about that, and frankly Iím making that up. Someone drop me a note and let me know if Iím right. Follow the money.
***
I guess we get stories like this here in the US; there have to be boneheaded cops everywhere. But this is rather ďover the top.Ē
In Gosport, Hampshire, UK, someone has been going around putting parking tickets on cars and telling people to send the money to a PO Box in another city. When the BBC checked, sure enough, the company on the ticket was listed in that other city.
So what are the local bobbies going to do? Of course, put on extra patrols to catch the rotters in the act.
No one thought about strolling down to the company named on the ticket and having a ďquiet wordĒ about bogus tickets, rather than promote the fact that they were laying on extra patrols.
By now, the offices of Responsive Solutions LTD, in Essex, are empty, the PO Box is closed and there will be no forwarding address.
The Brits do a great job catching terrorists, but they seem to lose it when it comes to parking issues.
***
Havenít the city fathers in Philadelphia got the idea? Electric cars became obsolete in 1910. GM and Honda tried to sell them in the 1990s and failed completely. Folks simply donít want these boat anchors. Period. For Greenies, hybrids are the way to go, and getting 45 or 50 mpg from your Prius is great, thank you very much.
In Philadelphia, a city councilman wanted to give people with electric cars a reserved spot in front of their houses. To get it, the car owner would have to install an electric plug so they could charge the critter between uses.
Sorry, does not compute. If a person buys an electric car, one would have thought that they had considered where they were going to plug it in Ė or the cost of the very long extension cord.

Article Abstract from November, 2007




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