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Good Will to All

The biggest news in parking today is how bad it is right now. Between the crowds and the weather, I don’t envy anybody who has to be out and about during the next two days. Still, stress is just another name for holiday cheer, and parking is a huge part of both. This is the time of year when I notice how bad the parking is at the mall nearest me – it is, while plentiful, convoluted, hard to access and a lot like a maze with plenty of dead ends. And I notice how easy the parking at a mall in a neighboring town is – linear, well planned, not as plentiful, but so much easier to navigate that that doesn’t seem to matter. It’s only when these shopping areas are filled to capacity that I really examine how they work.

I’ve read the headlines to prepare for this blog, and I’m going to float an idea for the owners of parking lots and garages. Whether the headlines about shootings are just getting more attention or the shootings themselves are increasing at an alarming rate, parking industry operators need a plan for gun violence. Training in conflict resolution, suggestions for the immediate summoning of authorities if a gun shows its face, and instructions to just generally get out of the way when danger becomes apparent are all suggestions for employee orientation. A little signage, here and there, that reminds drivers that no parking spot is worth death, injury or jail time, might be helpful. Or if you want to take the positive approach, let your signs say “Good Will to All” or something equally inspiring. But put them low where they’re going to be more visible. The holidays are steeped in tradition and anxiety, so hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

It’s not all bad, though. My favorite thing about parking this time of year, and probably any time of year, is free metered parking in downtown areas. Those red bags on the meters are a cheerful sight during a hectic season. It does have and impact on availability, but it’s worth it. Municipalities are in charge of so many things that affect residents, but don’t often have a chance to offer something that feels so personal. I appreciate it every year.

Merry Christmas to all!

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That All the World should be taxed…

According to St. Luke

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Depending on your beliefs, this is fact, legend, or just a great story. However it has survived over 2000 years and has had an affect on many millions of people.

Wags like me might take a more jaundiced view, and that is that even then taxes affected lives. It appears that Joseph and Co. ended up in Bethlehem because some government a thousand miles away wanted their share.

However the power of this story, a baby, a manger, angels and shepherds, a young mother and father, it cannot help but bring some peace, joy, and goodwill.

All of us here at Parking Today wish all of you, Christian and Jew, Muslim or Buddhist, agnostic or atheist, the very best of this holiday season and hope and pray you find the love and peace mentioned by Luke, oh those thousands of years ago.

JVH, Eric, Marcy, Joyce, Kelley, Astrid, Sue, Romina, Robyn, Shelly, Francine



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Vegas Residents Getting Vocal about Paid Parking on the Strip

As more Vegas hotels implement a charge for parking, the discussion about why they would or if they should widens. A reviewjournal.com columnist named Wayne Allyn Root is suggesting that hotel and casino patrons share their opinion of paid parking on the strip by taking their business to the places that still offer it for free.

I think Las Vegas is a parking setting unlike any other. The regular rules don’t exactly apply because these are highly profitable businesses with heavy use and a unique product. For decades, visitors to Vegas enjoyed free parking, and casinos enjoyed giving it to them for free knowing they’d drop more than enough into the slot machines to cover costs. Asking people to pay now just seems greedy – a greedy casino, who knew? But the perks made gamblers feel like they were welcome, important, and not complete idiots. If you’re going to the strip to lose money for fun, it hurts less if you didn’t pay for parking.

Las Vegas residents have different reasons for resenting paid parking on the strip. They visit casinos like locals, regularly, casually, with guests and for special occasions. If you’ve been to Vegas, you know it’s a neon carnival in the middle of a thousand-mile desert. There’s not much else to do. Root writes:

Most of us visit the Strip every time a family member, friend or business associate visits. In my case that’s often 10 to 20 times per month. When you live in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago, different friends and relatives don’t visit 100 times per year. They do in Vegas.

Root writes further, that Vegas casino parking structures are massive and tough to navigate and these new policies are making harder for tourists, the disabled and the elderly to get around the strip. He offers a list of hotels and casinos where parking is still free and recommends locals and visitors alike take their extra cash to Venetian, Palazzo, Treasure Island, Trump Hotel, SLS Las Vegas, the Palms, the Stratosphere, Golden Nugget, Station Casinos (including Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch), Boyd properties (including the Orleans and Gold Coast), Arizona Charlie’s, the Cannery and the Rio.

Read the article here.

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PIE 2017 Nearly Sold Out

Marcy reports that our Parking Industry Exhibition to be held next March in Chicago has its exhibition floor all but sold out.  Only 9 booths are left and are going fast. She says she will be sold out by Christmas.

Eric reports that attendee registrations are running well ahead of last year and expects a record breaking attendance for the March 5-8 event.

This promises to be the most exciting PIE yet with two amazing Keynote Speakers, a special workshop for vendors, networking events, and plenty of time to see the exhibition over the three days.

Look for Wednesday to be a special time for attendees, as more than a dozen seminars, focusing on Technology, will be held, as well as a third Keynote Speaker, first thing in the morning.

PIE 2017 will be the best ever. See you there


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Elon Twigs to Charging Valet

I wondered why I got off on the screed above and then realized it was because I read this article on Parknews.biz.

PN Editor Astrid lead the charge a couple of years ago concerning Range Anxiety. Of course the goal was to have a charging station in every garage so EV owners could ‘top up’ when they were at work, shopping, or clubbing. It didn’t take long for a major problem to appear — how do you deal with the person who plugs in their car and then leaves for the day?

According to engaget Tesla’s Elon Musk is reacting to “jerks” who do this at the company’s Supercharging stations. He hasn’t come up with a solution yet, but look out, if he can go to the moon, he can solve this little issue.

If you read my piece above you see the problem. You are in Barstow — its going to take an hour to charge your car.  So you go to the local eatery to relax. Its down the block.  Your car “tops up” and you don’t know it. You finish your lunch and return to find other Tesla owners waiting in line. What’s the new rule?  You cannot leave for the time you are charging? Wow.

I have a couple of ideas — 10 minutes before the charging is complete, the Tesla could call you and tell you to hot foot it over to the charging station and move your car. An elegant and high tech solution. Not good if the restaurant just delivered your Filet Mignon.

I proposed a couple of years ago a “Charging Valet.”  A person at the site who jockeys cars around when they are charged. My friend Dennis Cunning says that it would cost upwards of $200,000 a year to cover two shifts, seven days a week.  I see no problem. If a person can afford a $100K Tesla, they can afford to pay to get their car charged. But wait, Tesla provides electricity free at its Supercharging station. But wait, that little benefit is going away January 1, so adding personnel to each site would be a no brainer.

Of course, high tech Elon may go for door number one and the phone call rather than the expense of door number two.   It would probably solve the problem since most people wouldn’t want to face electron deprived drivers in the desert wastes of Barstow.





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Range Anxiety Just don’t talk to a Tesla Owner

He gave the example of friends who live in Gilroy (near silicon valley, the ground zero of Tesla owners). Its about 80 miles south of San Francisco. My friend lives in Torrance, about 300 miles south. The Tesla owner drove to Torrance, stopping once on the way to recharge.  He then confessed he forgot his “trickle Charger” and would have to go to charging stations to ‘top up.”

After arriving in Torrance, my friend followed him to a charging station and they dropped off the car.  In a few hours they went back and picked it up. Tesla then headed out to San Diego. He stopped once on the way down to charge, charged in SD, and stopped on the way back to charge. Once again he dropped of the car to charge and my friend picked him up. Later they returned to pick up the Tesla. It is not known how many stops he made on the way back to Gilroy.

My “car guy’s” comment.  “Great toy for city driving. Fun second car. Will I buy one? Not until they fix the battery problem — not enough range.”  He also commented on the time it takes to charge.  I didn’t believe him, so I looked it up —

Tesla says the 60-kwh battery provides a range of up to 232 miles (the EPA pegs it at 208 miles), and the 85-kwh battery (a $10,000 option) provides up to 300 miles (the EPA puts it at 265 miles). Here are some examples for recharging times: With a single onboard charger plugged into a standard 110-volt outlet, Tesla says you will get 5 miles of range for every hour of charging. From zero to 300 miles would take about 52 hours at that rate. With a single charger connected to a 240-volt outlet, which Tesla recommends, the pace speeds up to 31 miles of range for each hour of charging, and a full 300-mile charge takes less than 9.5 hours.

Step up to twin chargers on the car and connect to a 240-volt, high-power wall charger (an extra-cost charging unit, not just a 240-volt line) and the charging speed zooms to 62 miles of range per hour, and the total charging time drops to under 4 hours, 45 minutes.

Really in a hurry? Stop at a Tesla Supercharger station and you can top off the tank with 300 miles of range in just an hour, as long as your Model S is configured with Supercharger capability If a Supercharger station is out of reach, most public charging stations can recharge the Model S at the rate of 22 miles of range per hour of charging.

I then stumbled on a chain of comments on Driving from LA to Las Vegas, 280 miles.



If the 90% charge doesn’t cost you any time (because it’s at home while you sleep, for example) by all means, do that. To optimize charging time, you want to arrive at the supercharger with as little charge left as you are comfortable with. There’s really nothing to gain, time-wise, by adding an extra supercharger stop to the first leg of your trip.

Once you get to Barstow, though, the most time-efficient thing to do is charge just enough to make it to Primm, so you’ll be at a minimum state of charge in Primm, and thus charge faster. If you’ve got something else to do in Barstow, like eat a meal, that might change the equation.

Even though arriving with as little charge as possible is theoretically best, please leave a buffer, so you are sure to get to the next supercharger!

Let’s see — I get in my car, fill up at the local station, and drive nonstop to Las Vegas. I never for a second consider all the issues above. When I stop, its because nature calls, not the battery.


PS — I asked a Tesla owner about this and was told that there is no problem and these folks just don’t plan sufficiently.  Oh, did you know that if you buy the BMW electric car and then want to go to Vegas, you take it to the dealer and they give you a full size gas powered critter to make the trip?  What a clever solution.

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ParqEx: Airbnb for Parking

In Chicago, reports chicagobusiness.com, an app called ParqEx is helping people rent out their under-used parking spaces. Participants register their parking spot, pay a 20 percent service charge for the app to administer the transaction, and make hundreds of dollars a month. The peer-to-peer marketplace requires approval and cooperation from condo associations and hasn’t meant with any real resistance so far. One ParqEx user, Brandon Arnold, rents out his two spots because he doesn’t even own a car.

Using an app developed in Chicago, Arnold rents one of his spaces to a woman who keeps a car downtown for weekend use, and the other to a man who parks during working hours Monday to Friday. On weeknights and weekends, when that latter space is empty, Arnold occasionally rents it to people coming to the neighborhood to shop or eat.

Another user says he tried renting out his parking space through craigslist.com, but felt more secure having payment handled by an outside source.

Airbnb has been taking heat lately as state and city governments demand the application of taxes, apply limits the amount of time property owners’ can rent out their dwellings, and even outlaw vacation rentals in residential areas altogether. Complaints from neighbors have put pressure on Airbnb participants, and opposition from the hospitality industry is affecting the way the business is carried out.

Maybe ParqEx will get by without similar challenges, but I recommend a high degree of discretion. Part of Airbnb’s difficulties have arisen from its widening base. As the business grew it went from a kind of underground vacation rental network to a worldwide trend. That popularity is what has made it so threatening to outsiders.

Read the article here.

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In Four Short Years — From PIE to Success – ParkX Purchased by Passport

We won’t take any credit for the success of Thomas Maguire, Ross Shanken and Austin Weiss, the founders of Park Genius later renamed ParkX. But we were around at the beginning.

It was announced today that their company had been purchased by Passport. What more could you want, to have your hard work honored by a larger competitor. Passport tells me that they are a great crew and wonderful to work with.  Here’s what they wrote for Parking Today in 2012.

Grad Students Launch ‘Park Genius’

A Week at 2012 PIE, and a New Company Is Born

Three students in the University of Arizona (UA) McGuire Entrepreneurship Scholars Program used the 2012 Parking Industry Exhibition as a research laboratory and came away with an idea for their school project. Editor

We have seen the future of the parking industry, and it is “Park Genius.”

We are three determined students from three different backgrounds, growing up on opposite ends of the country: San Francisco, Chicago and Miami, respectively. Despite the distance in both miles and backgrounds, we shared one thing in common: students at the University of Arizona with a love for entrepreneurship. It was on this common ground that we met in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Scholars Program at the UA in Tucson. This is where our journey into the world of parking began.

In conjunction with the dry desert heat, parking continues to be a nuisance both on campus and throughout the city of Tucson. Our professors in the McGuire program, being experienced entrepreneurs, saw a problem and assigned us to research the parking industry. Specifically, our goal was to find an innovative and sustainable business concept that would be applicable both now and well into the future.

Amid our investigation into the parking industry, we stumbled upon the Parking Industry Exhibition (PIE) website promoting a conference and expo where the top minds in the parking industry would be convening to share ideas and experiences. So, we thought, what a great opportunity this would be for us to learn from the experts!

A combination of a UA grant and the generosity of Parking Today magazine allowed us to attend the 2012 PIE March 18-21.

After the excitement of being in Chicago wore off, we got down to business, planning out the days to come: which seminars to attend, what booths to visit, and where to find the extra drink tickets for the evening mixers!

We have to admit, coming from a college atmosphere, we thought PIE might be a bit boring, but that notion could not have been further from the truth! From the inaugural “opening of the gates” to the end-of-the-week re-cap, we were thoroughly impressed and entertained each and every day, and honestly couldn’t wait for the day’s activities to start.

Though we were probably the youngest people at the expo, that didn’t stop anyone from being overly nice or helpful to us throughout the entire conference. All the attendees were excited to see some fresh faces interested in the parking industry, and we were equally excited to listen and learn all we could from them.

It was probably easy to see our “deer in the headlights” reactions when we first showed up at 2012 PIE, but after the week was over and many friendships were made, it was clear that we shared the swagger of parking veterans. We left with our heads held high and suitcases full of business cards, fliers and pamphlets from every registered attendee at the event, and even some who weren’t.

We arrived back in Tucson with a wealth of information that needed to be refined into an idea that would be our end-of-the-year project, ultimately determining whether or not we graduated from the McGuire program. Clearly we took this process seriously.

After combing through all the material and sending several follow-up emails, we believed we had found a true problem, or “customer pain,” as our professors would say. The problem: paying for parking meters and spaces using a credit card or mobile device without having to upgrade to any new hardware.

What we came up with was Park Genius, a unique identification system that could be implemented to allow for mobile methods of payments for both coin-only parking meters and parking lots. Our cost-effective solution is designed to be quick and easy to implement, and simple and convenient to use.

After visualizing our web application concept, we spent the rest of the year consulting with parking providers in the Tucson area, creating prototypes and finalizing our project presentation.

With plenty of hard work and a plethora of support from our friends at PIE, not only we were able to graduate on time, but we also secured a first place finish in our program of 22 different teams!

We knew what we wanted to do after graduation, so we decided to launch Park Genius. With the app, the future looks bright for us, and the parking industry!

Pretty bright, all right. Congrats to the three founders of Parking Genius, now ParkX, now Passport.  We at PIE and Parking Today salute you.


PS — Here’s what they sent to us this morning:

We are very excited about the merger!

You have been a key piece to our success, we can’t thank you enough for all the love and support you have given us!! Thank you thank you thank you!!



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Economics, Mr. Trump, Carrier, and a Parking Garage

I love it when those not schooled in parking try to use our business as an analogy to some other business.  Justin Wolfers, a professor at the University of Michigan and writing in the New York Times gives it his best shot, but I think misses the target.

Basically his column says that President elect Trump’s actions with Carrier is useless in the intergalactic scheme of things.  It will make no difference. Here is how he compares it to a parking garage:

Think of the American economy as a 10-level parking structure or garage, where each car represents an active firm, and the seats in the car are the jobs available. A well-managed business like this is usually pretty full. But it’s also in a state of constant flux, with new cars entering as some people arrive, and previously parked cars leaving as others head home. Every hour, around a tenth of the cars leave the lot, just as a tenth of existing business establishments close each year and leave the labor market.

The deal at Carrier is akin to Mr. Trump’s intercepting a driver on his way to his car, and trying to persuade him to stay parked a little longer — perhaps by pointing to the enticing Christmas specials at the nearby stores.

It’s an approach that no parking business bothers trying.

But you might look at it another way.

Prices in parking garages are set based on how long a parker stays, and often on when they entered or left. They purpose is to attract parkers to stay based on their self interest. If someone knows they are going to stay all day, they park in a garage that has a lower all day rate (perhaps an early bird.)  The garage owner may want cars that are long stay, to keep his facility full.

In another garage, the charges may be based on the availability of space at a certain time. If the garage is empty, the price goes down, if it is full, supply and demand pushed the cost up and perhaps parkers go there because there is no alternative.

These pricing techniques are like labor costs, taxes, energy costs incentives, labor availability, unions, and regulatory policy.

The deal at Carrier is like Mr. Trump adjusting the pricing to entice more parkers into the garage when there is space available (perhaps a space being a worker). If we were at full employment, there would be no need to cajole companies to keep their factories where they are.  However we used incentives (different types of pricing) to get customers into our garages. Sure in the global scheme of things, its a drop in the bucket, but perhaps its representative on a tiny scale of what can be done. The goal must be to provide an environment where companies WANT to stay.

It seems to me is that the government has many tools at its disposal to jump start the economy and keep jobs parked in the USA.  A bully pulpit is only one. Its useful, political, and important, but there are others needed too.  A less onerous tax code, favorable regulations, and an educated and engaged work force can help too.

But what do I know – I don’t teach at a major university.


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Parking Strategies a Good Model for Government Policy

You have to be careful talking about politics these days. Unless you’re sure the person sitting across from you shares all your views and opinions, you could be preaching to the choir or throwing water on the Gremlins. Nobody can deny that the political climate in our country right now is charged, heated, overexcited and occasionally rabid, but a recent article on nytimes.com has appealed to the intelligence, instead of the emotions, of its readers. And it just so happened to make an interesting analogy about the job market and parking industry practices.

The article compares a modern economy to a parking garage. In terms of the job market, fluctuation is inevitable and acceptable as long as overall numbers are consistent or growing. The author explains that trying to keep cars in the garage is known to be a waste of time – turnover is inevitable and desirable. Inspiring regular parkers to return and attracting new customers are the best way to ensure profitability. Making and keeping jobs in the United States is about making the country a productive and supportive place to do business – we’re talking perks and amenities that make the experience positive.

The economics of parking contain a big lesson for the Trump administration: A parking garage stays full, and an economy stays healthy, only if it’s constantly refreshed.

It will come as no surprise that the article is critical of the president elect, but it offers that criticism with sanity and uses a metaphor that many, in the industry and out, comprehend easily.

Our country is going to need all the help in can get in the year to come – there are no perfect people or perfect solutions to our challenges. It’s good to see a topic so familiar used to shed light on an important issue.

There’s also a very cool picture of a 1937 multi-level car storage tower in Chicago.

Read the article here.

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