I had a most interesting discussion with Mike Harley, COO of SMC Software. Amongst other things, we discussed parking reservations and I gave my usual response that the whole concept was a solution in search of a problem.
Mike gave me some food for thought. He said that we live in an increasingly complex world. He asked me if I had all the information about my trip this week to Tampa, Atlanta, Austin, and Cincinnati. I said yes and he asked if it was all securely entered in my smart phone. I said of course. He asked why, because after all, I could go to each airport and car rental place and hotel and get all the information I needed on terminals there. I noted that having all the information at my fingertips ensured I wouldn’t make a mistake and also that I didn’t have to think about it until the next step of my trip was about to occur.
He got an “ah ha” look on his face and said, well, when you go to a hockey game, you have your tickets, your dinner reservations, so you won’t have to think about them, why not a parking reservation so you won’t have to think about that either.
Our lives our complex enough, he went on, without having to think about where we were going to park, particularly in an area with which we are unfamiliar. One less issue we can deal with before the fact. We can sit at our desk when we purchase the tickets and make the dinner reservation and can make the parking decisions then too. Often we can also pay for them in advance. One little thing less we have to add to the hassles in our lives.
I had to admit that I hadn’t considered this but of course he’s right.
When I got my plane reservations and checked I noticed that I was TSA Pre Approved. Those little letters meant that the security nightmare at the airport was gone. It even meant I could wear some shoes that were more difficult to take on and off than the loafers I usually wear, but were much more comfortable. Hassle reduced.
The GPS in the cars I rented took tremendous pressure off. I didn’t have to scan a map or worry about whether or not I could find my appointment locations. Key it in and forget about it. With Garmin on my smart phone, I can key in all the addresses from home before I leave. Less hassle.
So why not parking, says Mike. Frankly I had to agree. He has other ideas about this concept and will be discussing it with you folks that attend PIE in March. Its a presentation I don’t want to miss.
Cruise ship passengers in Miami disembarked from their dream vacation to a valet parking nightmare: their cars keys were lost.
Read the article here.
Vehicle owners have had to get new keys made and drive rental cars in the meantime. The company that runs the lot, Tampa-based Premier Parking Ventures, says it will reimburse them for their costs.
According to the article:
It’s unclear exactly who is to blame for the disappearance of the keys at Parking Lot 58, located at NW 8th Street and 1st Court. However, the manager of the company that runs the lot, Tampa-based Premier Parking Ventures, told CBS4’s Natalia Zea Tuesday morning that he thinks it was sabotage and believes either a disgruntled employee or someone from a competitor’s lot stole the keys.
Maybe they’ll get to the bottom of who took the keys, but as for the responsible party, I think it’s the parking lot’s management. Keys handled properly and stored safely are not stolen – especially not in such large numbers.
The article says there are nearly 20 more car-owners still cruising whose keys went missing – Premier Parking will have new keys made before they return.
In his testimony before the Washington DC Zoning board, Matt Malinowski ended with the following:
Rather than perpetuating the current set of arbitrary requirements based on unknowable ratios of drivers to occupants, please focus on what we do know: land in DC is expensive and driving is unsustainable and causes congestion. Eliminating or minimizing parking requirements allows for the market to provide parking to those who truly need it, while making it clear that free parking is not a right, and that DC values its residents and natural environment over its cars.
He had just finished discussing how a local business could reduce its parking facilities and replace them with bike racks to wit:
Staff are expected to ride bikes, so there are 20 bike parking spots instead, and the Metro is a 10-minute walk away.
I guess I’m just grumpy. Sure parking minimums are absurd and without them many abandoned buildings could be opened for other uses but maybe I don’t want to ride a bike or the metro. Maybe I’m willing to pay for parking. Shouldn’t that be a decision left up to the landowner, the developer, and dare I say it, the customer.
I guess that consultants and planners have a right to their opinions, just as do I, however it seems to me that the market would solve all these problems if it was just allowed to work. Its also important to remember that if you take away a person’s ability to drive, then there needs to be an alternative — like say transit, or maybe planners want to have us living like Europeans, in 500 square foot apartments stacked a quarter of a million to the square mile, living, eating, working, loving — all within walking distance.
Elections have consequences.
Seems the city of Cincinnati,OH, had cut a deal with its port authority, Xerox, and others to privatize the parking in the city. The 50 year deal would garner the city $85 million up front plus $3 million a year. So far so good.
However in a recent election, the plan became a political football and the new mayor has said that he would unwind the deal. The problem is that the deal is signed, bonds are being sold, and stopping it now may have a considerable cost to the city. The Port Authority has agreed to hold up on the bond sales, hoping to “educate” the incoming Mayor and three new council members.
According to the local media, the Mayor elect has said that he wants to proceed with many of the projects funded by the deal, but has no real plan to do so.
I know nothing about this deal and have no dog in the fight. However it is a great example of how elections have consequences.
When major projects are planned, its good to get bipartisan support so when the political winds change direction, the project can proceed. I will track the progress of the PPP in Cincinnati and keep you posted.
A manufacturing plant was having trouble with a new machine. The huge mechanical monster simply wouldn’t run. They had tried everything. Nothing worked. It hiccuped, it moaned, it struggled. But it didn’t run. It was costing a fortune each day it was down.
Finally the CEO called in a consultant. The man arrived at 10 AM. He had a briefcase. He opened the briefcase and took out a pair of overalls and put them on. He then took out a ball peen hammer.
The consultant climbed into the barely running machine, stared at it for a moment, then took the hammer and hit the machine. It immediately settled down and ran perfectly. He took off his overalls, and put them and the hammer in his briefcase.
He then left at 10:15, telling the CEO he would submit his invoice.
A week later the CEO received an invoice for $100,000. Incensed, he called the consultant and demanded an itemized statement. He received the following:
Wear and tear on Ball Peen Hammer……….$1.50
Dry cleaning of Overalls ………………………..$8.50
Knowing where to hit…………………….$99,990.00
The invoice was paid the next day.
City of Salem Vows to Strictly Enforce Downtown Parking Rules
Read the article here.
This headline is pretty much the stamp of failure. If you create rules, enforcement should be a no-brainer. If you have to make a vow to enforce your own laws, you’re telling people there’s a possibility you might not.
It’s an empty threat anyway, because every driver out there knows there are areas where parking regulations are not enforced, either at all, or consistently. City leaders say they will enforce laws, hoping that by saying so, citizens will be just nervous enough about being cited that they won’t try to push the limits.
I think a better approach would be to stop warning people and bump up enforcement 50 percent on random days during the month. If you can’t really send out staff to write tickets every hour of the day, create a sort of parking roulette feeling for violators. They won’t like the odds.
That’s the way it works with speed traps. Once a month there’s a police officer hiding at the corner of a street I drive down frequently. I know he’s going to be there, but I never know when. I slow down every time I come to that intersection just in case he’s waiting.
It’s not an ideal plan, but it’s better than idle threats.
A high school in East Bridgewater, Mass. is offering 20 reserved parking spaces for teachers who drive fuel-efficient cars. The plan is to inspire more teachers to drive “green” cars so that the school can earn a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification through the U.S. Green Building Council.
I don’t think people who drive fuel-efficient cars need any other perks but the right to feel smug driving next to me in my SUV. The reward for being environmentally conscious ought to be the comfortable feeling that comes with knowing you’ve done right by the world. It’s like kids’ sports these days – you get a trophy just for playing whether you won, lost or spent your time on the field picking your nose and watching birds fly overhead – when, in truth, playing the game the trophy. Being part of the team is the trophy.
“We know we can get silver, but we’re going for gold,” said Simon Tempest, project director for the new school, referring to the certification level. “That just means that we have more green features in the building.”
Other green features at the new school include energy-efficient boilers, a water recycling system, and a trash recycling program, Tempest said.
What I think would be a healthy exercise for this school and a whole lot of people out there is to put environmentally-friendly practices in perspective. In general, the best plan is to consume less and pat yourself on the back when you do.
Read the article here.
This is the first of a series of articles, to be expanded in Parking Today, from The Temecula Group, a parking think tank that meets annually and discusses issues pertinent to the industry. The Temecula Group met the last weekend in October, 2013.
When manufacturers, installers, consultants, and end users get together to talk about the RFP process, all hell seems to break lose. The discussions rages from blame to anecdotal stories each has blaming the others for failed projects, uncompleted jobs, impossible specifications and unpaid bills. Lawsuits abound, job requirements are copies of other ones, and in the end, no one is happy with the result.
If this sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. Far too often organizations will simply take a bid spec used by another and change the names and send it out. If it worked for ABC why won’t it work for us. Even one of our parking organizations is asking for bids to be sent to them so then can distribute them to other like organizations. Its a cheap way to get a bid spec moving, and a quick way to disaster.
When the group at Temecula calmed down, they found that all those involved had similar issues, and they all seemed to go back to the initial job requirements. Does the organization purchasing the system really understand its operation and know what it needs.
Far too often an organization will assume purchasing technology will solve their operational problems without first understanding what those problems are and how the equipment will fit into their needs. They walk a trade show floor and see fantastic new ideas from a dozen manufacturers and then write a spec containing a bit from each, perhaps not realizing that none of the manufacturers can do all the things demonstrated across a room full of booths at a trade show.
They then proceed to cause a specification to be written that none can meet, but strangely enough, some will ignore the few items that don’t fall in their spec, assuming that they can get change orders in later in the process to remove these items. Or they simply blunder their way to the end and hope they can successfully negotiate them out of the final check list.
Too often consultants are a part of this process and sign on to hammering suppliers to get what they want. They also provide specifications that require that certain tasks be done a certain way, while many manufacturers perform the same tasks with different techniques.
In addition, there is often much confusion between the customer, his IT department, the construction staff, installers, engineers at the factory and the consultants. Far too often the information needed for a successful installation is not communicated properly, and disaster strikes.
Even when the installation goes well, the end results may not seem right because the users aren’t fully on board with the technology. Statistics have shown that less than 10% of the capability of most systems are actually used by those running the facility. Expectations by the owner that problems will be solved by the technology are smashed. In the end, no one is happy with the result.
The group felt that more time and money needed to be spent in the planning stages, in determining just how the facility is supposed to work, what problems exist, and how the technology would help fix those problems. Often the problems needed to be fixed first, and then the technology applied to automate the solutions. This requires a strong consulting effort in the beginning to bring an understanding of the individual garage or system and how it will be affected by the technology.
Bidders felt that when specs were impossible to meet, that perhaps they should actually give two bids, a ‘low’ bid with a caveat that certain parts of specification would not be met with this bid, and then a different bid that included the work needed to meet all parts of the spec.
Also, it was felt that the specification be a ‘performance’ specification. That is a description of what the operation needed, and let the individual bidders explain how they were going to meet those requirements. The goal is not to have a Ford body, and Chevy Engine, Chrysler wheels, and Toyota electronics.
Consultants need to be upfront with the organizations for which they work and understand the operations of a parking facility, not just the specifications of a dozen manufacturers. They need to be able to make operational change suggestions, as well as technical ones. But the users need to understand that this costs money, and budget for it.
Coordination is a major issue and most of the participants in the discussion recommended that a coordinator be hired to ensure all parts of the system were going in properly and communicate issues between the different stake holders when problems arise. Coordination needs to be budgeted in, but not part of the bid price, but a separate costs born by the organization receiving the system.
The vendors stressed that when ‘cutting edge’ technology is purchased, that expectations need to be lowered, particularly in the time required to make them happen. They may be technically possible, but not readily available. The end users present stressed that seeing the technology working in the field was important and what they see is probably what they will initially receive.
Picking the consultant to help you is as important as picking the supplier of technology. Review their successes, failures, and make the decision based on how they fit into your needs. One size does not fit all.
In sum, the overriding issue here, aside from the confusion created aspect described above, really has to do with education, time and desire on the part of those tempted to shortcut the procurement process. Managers seeking carbon-copy RFPs need to be EDUCATED about the pitfalls of doing so before going down that trail. Which may help them bite the bullet and see that they’ll need to invest the TIME of staff members and themselves in generating an RFP that’s absolutely right for their organization’s needs. But in the last analysis, it boils down to a DESIRE to do things the right way: to not take the easy way out and look for shortcuts on the front end that can too easily arrive at failures down the road.
From Don Shoup at UCLA:
The unintended irony in the last sentence of this invitation suggests how far UCLA has to change to become sustainable.
UCLA Grand Challenges is a campuswide commitment to address the most significant problems confronting society. To achieve these ambitious and inspiring goals, UCLA will work with government, industry, university and philanthropic partners to redefine what is possible.
On Friday, November 15, 2013, UCLA will reveal the first Grand Challenge Project: a transformative effort to solve one of the greatest challenges within the area of environment and sustainability.
UCLA Grand Challenge Project Reveal
Friday, November 15, 2013 10:30 a.m. Royce Hall, UCLA
Please respond by Friday, November 8, 2013 RSVP online or call (310) 794-6241 Seating is limited. Complimentary parking will be available in Parking Structure 5
If it seems like a lot of these posts are about San Francisco, that’s because it has just about the worst parking problems in the country, besides New York City. The high population and topography are challenging enough, but strong and varied opinions about parking complicate matters further.
In fact, an SF.streetsblog.org blogger recently penned the following headline “Parking-Obsessed Extremists Threaten Plan for Safer Walking on Potrero.” How’s that for a loaded statement? It seems a planned sidewalk expansion in the Potrero neighborhood would eliminate 100 parking spaces. The walkers love this and the parkers hate it, naturally. The parkers sent around a petition that might have an affect on the plan, but the walkers say the parkers have lied to to public about how pedestrian-friendly changes will affect the neighborhood.
“In their attempts to appease the parking-obsessed opponents, city planners already reduced that number to 79 spaces a few months ago. … While the pedestrian improvements in the plan would help reduce injuries and tame motor traffic, some petition signers seem to believe the claims that the “local street” will be turned into a “high-speed transit” corridor. Others simply insist that car parking is paramount.”
Bloggers aren’t subject to the rules of ethical journalism, which emphasize truth, impartiality, and the dissemination of information without bias, so this blogger is well within his rights to label people who choose parking spots over wider sidewalks as as “obsessed extremists.” His use of hyperbole endears him to his supporters and gives his detractors ample ammunition to discredit him – and that makes everybody happy.
The blogger, a Mr. Aaron Bialick could easily be called a “sidewalk-obsessed extremist,” or my favorite, a “bleeding-heart liberal, kale-smoothie-drinking hipster.” But name calling doesn’t get anybody anywhere, it’s another nice big word that smooths some of the bumps in the earth’s rotation: “compromise.”
Read the article here.