I have to do WHAT to get that ticket reversed

There’s construction going on in my neighborhood. They are replacing curbs and gutters, and soon a water main and then the streets.  Chaos reins.

The city in its wisdom has told us in writing that there would be no tickets issued for minor parking infractions (wrong side of the street on street cleaning day, etc).  They would still ticket for parking in red zones, blocking fire hydrants, etc. Fair enough.  This was to continue until October.

We came home the other day to find all the cars on one side of the streets issued tickets for blocking the street sweeper. My neighbor accosted the enforcement officer and she told him she had a list of streets where restrictions were lifted and we weren’t on it. She showed him the list, and gave him the ticket.  She was right.

However, the city bureaucrat who  made the list was wrong.

After a bevy of emails to local authorities, an apology came down from the city, and also a recommendation that each of us so ticketed ‘fight’ it and show the judge the letter from the city.

Huh?  I have to pay the ticket, then go to a hearing and spend half a day to get my day in court, then show the judge the letter, get the ticket waved, and then wait for my money to be refunded. And think about the folks who just automatically paid the ticket. We all get caught sometime.

And you wonder why parking enforcement is hated.

Why the hell can’t the city just find the tickets that were written on my street improperly and void them. Probably take a clerk somewhere an hour to do so. Might even drop a note apologizing for the error, and make some good PR.

Never would have thought of that.

Isn’t there a movie title that fits here, oh yeah — Dirty Rotten Bas…..


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12 Ways to….5 ways to…101 ways to…

Everywhere you turn these days there is a list of things to make you life, business, health, or even parking better. On twitter today I got the following:

  • 9 ways to keep prospects interested
  • 5 important metrics every blogger should…
  • 5 strategies for staying relevant
  • 16 best new tools
  • 7 steps to get your…
  • 14 amazing blogs

And of course at the bottom of every web page:

  • 15 most beautiful women
  • 5 exercises you should avoid
  • 10 ways to lose those wrinkles
  • 15 stars you didn’t know were gay (number 5 will shock you)

I have looked at a lot of these and have never been shocked by number 5. I really think that there are not 9 ways but really 10, and those 16 new tools, well some are not relevant.

You know what would really catch my eye?

  • One way to lose weight
  • One exercise that will make you happy
  • One way to keep prospects interested
  • The one most beautiful woman
  • One way to lose.

I think that we can get overwhelmed by lists and numbers. If I could get just one good idea a day, or one bit of information that really helped, or one way to keep a prospect that worked, then I would be happy.  Lists are for making, not for doing. They are for shopping, for cooking, not for changing.

At the top of my twitter feed right now is “30 great Marketing ideas for small business owners to increase sales.”  The chances of more than one of them being put into effect are, I think, nil.  Would Larry Kim have done better to have selected the 1 best idea, and expanded on it.  And maybe the next best tomorrow. I know I would have more interest.

I just retweeted Larry’s tweet.  Go to@jvhpt and scroll down a bit. I think you will see what I mean.


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Alma Mater — Not enough Parking Spaces

I graduated from UCLA, its also home to parking guru Don Shoup. However according to a story snagged by Astrid at parknews.biz, over 1000 students have been placed on a waiting list, some of them seniors. Seems that there are so many staff and faculty (priority) and so many events, and other activities on campus, that there isn’t enough room for the students.

There are over 45,000 students at UCLA — a tad over 30,000 staff and faculty. That’s a staff member for every 1.5 students.  Wow!  Just what has happened at my school. Are there so many staff that there isn’t room for the students?  It would seem to be true.

Students are put at the end of the list for parking, with janitors, cooks, and gardeners higher on the list. Naturally faculty are higher, too. And administrators.

Has the home of the UCLA Bruins considered a parking system that charges based on usage, and not simply awarding a space and giving the owner a license to hunt?

A university in Australia has set up a system whereby students pay (by cell) only when they are on campus. This motivates them to drive only when necessary and to move their vehicles as soon as practical. The end result was finding that there were plenty of spaces, and every student, teacher, and staff member had a place to park, when they needed it.

Oh, and the income actually went up.

The UCLA parking department told one of the students on the waiting list that a computer ‘algorithm’ was in error, and a number of lower division students (first and second year) were given spaces ahead of Seniors. I thought UCLA was one of the places that invented the internet, and they can’t figure out how to pass out parking passes.

I hope that someone is embarrassed. I wonder if someone at one of the world’s great universities is rethinking the staff/student ratio. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but what do I know, I’m just a lowly graduate.


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Further to Duncan and CivicSmart

News Release from Duncan/CivicSmart

Duncan Solutions, Inc. today announced the divestiture of its US-based equipment business, Duncan Parking Technologies, Inc., which provides parking meter and handheld enforcement equipment, to CivicSmart, Inc. Under the terms of the sale agreement, which was finalized on July 30, 2015, Duncan Solutions’ US and Australia-based business operations will continue to work closely with CivicSmart in the delivery and support of existing client equipment installations.

The sale to CivicSmart includes all US-based handheld enforcement hardware and applications, single-space and multi-space parking meter equipment and software, vehicle sensors, and related management systems.
“This transaction is a ‘win-win-win’ for Duncan, for CivicSmart, and for our clients,” stated Duncan Solutions President and CEO Michael Flaherty. “Our focus will remain on providing our clients with the quality services they have come to expect from Duncan, and I have confidence CivicSmart has the vision and capabilities to move the industry to the next generation of parking solutions.”
The sale will allow Duncan Solutions to concentrate on its core violation processing and collections solutions for both the parking and transportation industries in the United States and its parking services in Australia.

“CivicSmart is grateful for the opportunity to continue the nearly 80-year Duncan tradition of delivering innovative, reliable equipment and systems to the parking industry,” stated CivicSmart Founder Balu Subramanya. “We are excited to share our next-generation technology and vision with our clients.”
With the acquisition, CivicSmart becomes a leading provider of parking meter technologies in the US and globally, extending its existing vehicle sensing and systems integration capabilities.

About Duncan Solutions
Duncan Solutions, Inc. is a parking management company and a leading provider of parking and transportation management products and services to municipal and commercial clients worldwide, including citation processing, customer service, debt collections, and integrated on-street parking management services. More information about Duncan Solutions is available at DuncanSolutions.com.

About CivicSmart
CivicSmart, Inc., is a technology services and engineering company specializing in developing and delivering innovative parking and transportation offerings. CivicSmart solutions have been deployed globally and, with the acquisition of Duncan Parking Technologies, CivicSmart serves nearly 2,000 clients. More information about CivicSmart is available at CivicSmart.com

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Old Fashioned Parking

One day I’m sure I’ll tell my grandchildren about this old fashioned thing called paper money and coins. I won’t mention the typewriter, because they won’t be able to conceptualize anything so clunky and slow. Whatever they carry, it will be smarter than a smart phone. It will do everything for them except blow their noses and it won’t ever run low on battery power.

Sooner or later, coin meters and even credit card meters will be outdated technology. In El Paso, Texas, pay by phone is an option now in place for parkers, and I think it’s a great move. According to kfoxtv.com, all of the city’s nearly 2,000 meters will be connected with an app that lets users pay with their phones – from any location.

Park El Paso lets motorists feed parking meters by typing in a unique zone and space number and the amount of time for which they wish to pay. Users will receive notifications when their sessions are about to expire.

Even pay by phone will eventually be an outdated technology, and I can’t imagine what will take its place, but for now, it’s advanced. Kudos to El Paso for embracing the future.

There’s a whole generation of people, most of them about 2 years old  right now, that won’t know any other way. They will carry a phone – or some electronic device – like an extra limb. Tap, tap, tap will make their world go round. They might not be able to communicate with actual humans, but they will do wonders with their phones.

Read the article here.

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And Duncan Goes To…

My industry sources tell me that Duncan Solutions (the US Portion) has been sold to Spectrovation. Spectrovation is the company that owns CivicSmart parking solutions, which according to its web site, has a full line of onstreet sensor and enforcement solutions.

Duncan was owned by Australian based Tenex and has been on the block for a number of months. I will post more information as it becomes available.


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How Old Are You Anyway?

Dinner last night with Andreas Jansson from Cale America was enjoyable. He is a  bright young man whose heart and head seem to be in the right place. He was sent to the US for seven months two years ago to fight fires, and stayed on to pour water on the glowing embers. He mentioned that his wife was uncertain about coming here, but as the seven months neared an end, she said that it was snowing in Sweden, and not snowing in Tampa and couldn’t think of a reason to return home.

He said that his parents actually see more of their grandchildren now than they did when they lived 40 minutes apart. They look for any excuse to come to visit, particularly in the winter.

Andreas tells met that last year, ending in June 2015, was the best they have had in the US and he expects big things to come. Cities are looking closely at how they collect parking fees and multispace and pay by license plate meters are on everyone’s list. He must be doing something right.

He told me about moving to America and having no credit, only an AMEX card from Sweden. He called American Express and asked if they would issue him a US based card. Due to his excellent credit, this was no problem. He noted that there is a place on the card that says “member since” and then a date. He was very proud of his card, which reflected his membership since 2001, when he turned 21.

I smiled and pulled out my card, which dated from 1970. I then realized that my AMEX card was 10 years older than Andreas. I told him I received the original card when I left the army. Seems AMEX made it a policy to provide a Green card to all officers who had completed their commitment. Andreas did the numbers and asked my about my service in Vietnam. I confessed that I spent all the time in the Army not ‘in country’ but in Okinawa, then an “American Rock” but now a Japanese prefecture.

Andreas is an interesting and intelligent representative of his company. I expect big things out of Cale America in the coming years.



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Old Tickets Never Die

You think you’ve seen it all and then Chicago starts collecting 20-year-old tickets. I started to read the article, published on chicago.cbslocal.com, and I thought, well, that makes complete sense. The city needs the money, why not go after old tickets? After all, those people broke the law and didn’t pay their fines – there’s no expiration date on responsibility.

But then I read “those people’s” arguments. One said she, in fact, did pay the tickets, but didn’t keep her receipts because that was 20 years ago. The city says she contested the tickets, but her contest was not valid and she did not pay the fines.

“It’s not fair to grab something from 21 years ago, and say you owe this,” Parson says. (or whines, rather)

Who’s right? I’d like to take the city’s side, but I’m not so sure. A government office that can’t enforce its own policies doesn’t inspire absolute confidence. It’s entirely possible that the mistake lies in the city’s records. So maybe there should be a deadline – for both parties.

An interesting note buried at the bottom of the article is that part of Chicago’s plan to collect old ticket revenue is to collect it from current lawbreakers. It’s going after the old tickets that belong to people receiving new tickets.

The city confirmed this is a new attempt to collect revenue through people who receive new speed camera tickets or request new city stickers with updated address information.

They’ve now collected $800,000 since implementing the program in May.

I don’t feel so sorry for Ms. Parsons when I consider she’s still out there breaking traffic laws. I’m going to side with Chicago on this one.

One moral of the story is “don’t get any new tickets or you’ll have to pay for the old ones.” Another: “pay your tickets in the first place.” And last but not least: “old tickets never die.”

Read the article here.

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What Really ‘Matters”

We had our company picnic last weekend and virtually all of our staff showed up with their families. It was a super afternoon. The kids were aged from 7 to 15 and played together wonderfully. So did the adults. As I watched them all of them I realized how much each of them mean to our company. Each one has something to give, each one brings a bit of themselves to what we do, each one “matters”.

The term “matters” as a verb is being bandied about ruthlessly by the politically correct. “Black Lives Matter”,  “All Lives Matter”, “Media Matters”, “Learning Matters”, and even “Cooking Matters” – after a while you get rather tired of being beat over the head with it. However, at the risk of certain criticism I would like to add another to the list, “People Matter”.

The dictionary says “matters” has synonyms that include ” importance, consequence, significance, note, import, weight.

I guess I get a little frosted when the ‘matter’ term gets hijacked by this movement or that, and it begins to infer that we didn’t think that ‘learning’ ‘matters’ until someone pointed it out. And if we dare to say “of course we know that” we may be accused of being self serving and minimizing the topic.

The racially infused “Black Lives Matter” is taken by some to mean that other lives don’t. And if someone says, “of course, black lives matter, but then all lives matter” they are accused of hatred. Huh? What it in the world is that all about?

Whether its Lives, Media, Learning, Cooking, or even Parking, when ‘matters’ is attached it seems to become exclusionary. If “learning” matters, then does that mean that if one elects to not take a certain course of study, that they matter “less”.  If “parking” matters, does driving matter less.

The term “people matter” seems so all inclusive I fail to see how it could antagonize, but then I’m sure someone will take offense.

In our high tech age, we forget that people do matter. The technology exists to serve people. People created it, gave it meaning, and made it work for us. I only fear that we forget that people, individuals, do matter in that machines don’t understand the nuances of a certain word, nod, or handshake. A person could be troubled, sad, happy, or simply overworked and tired and what machine is going to pick up on that and react positively to it.

I have said may times that we take all the people out of our garages and off our streets at our peril. We may not need as many, and we may need to retrain them to provide service rather than simply do tasks better and more efficiently done by a machine but if parking is to ‘matter’ then we as an industry must understand that in the end, its people that matter. The rest is clever PR.



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Why is there so much Tech News?

I was discussing Parknews.biz with editor Astrid the other day and was wondering why there was so much news about the new Tech companies in the parking business. She laughed and said “that’s where all the news is happening. There simply is very little about the legacy companies.” I wonder?

The tech companies, the app companies, the pay by cell companies, they all seem to have news releases almost daily. They send us information, they have stories about themselves in local papers (we find that), they are everywhere. They seem to know how to create buzz about themselves.  What happened to the legacy majors — the mainline revenue control companies, the gate companies, even many meter companies, I know they are still out there.

They have marketing departments. They have people who are assigned the task of promoting the companies. But the amount of information that comes from them is about a 10th of that from the new startups, the tech guys, the pay by cell folks.

The tech companies thrive on media. They grew up with it. They know that when something happens in their company, a new hire, a new installation, a bit of news about a new product, an injection of cash it is a vehicle to get their name in front of their potential customers. They know about impressions. They know that even in our rather niche market, impressions make a difference. I know that if I see Charlie and Bobby’s mugs or the name of their company (Passport) one more time I may scream, but I also know that they are working hard to keep their name out there.

Charlie and Khristian blog almost every day – the topics aren’t necessarily about their company but about things that might interest their customers. They are active on Twitter and Facebook. And so are Cherie, Wen, Mike, and Mark at Park Mobile, Smarking, SMC and Spot Hero just to name a few. They send out news releases when anything happens, of interest or not. They are on a first name basis with the editors of outlets like Parknews, ParkingNetwork, and the like.

It is not possible that legacy companies with 350 employees, major manufacturing operations, dozens of outlets across the country, and hundreds of installations, don’t have enough information to spread around the parking media. But getting it is like pulling teeth.

We are there, its free. So why not take a few minutes and tell us what’s going on in your organization. You don’t even have to be a manufacturer. You could be a city, a university, a hospital, a shopping center, a business complex. Tell the world what you are all about. If you need help we can help you.

By neglecting the media you are neglecting yourself. 20 years ago someone told me that there simply wasn’t enough parking news to fill a magazine every month. We are finding that there is enough to fill Parknews daily. More than a dozen stories every day. We have a lot of bandwidth. Help us fill it. You neglect self promotion at your peril.


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