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Boise Gives Up on Ticket Collection, Justice

In Boise, Idaho, a huge backlog of unpaid parking tickets has cost the city almost a million dollars. An article on americancityandcountry.com reports that Boise officials have just written off 47,000 tickets that haven’t been paid and can’t be enforced. According to the article, the city can tow and send collection notices for unpaid parking tickets, but it can’t take the issue any further. City leaders have an interesting way of making up for the loss of income: selling items seized by police that have not been picked up by their owners.

Many items that were auctioned were stolen items that the original owners never claimed, according to Boise Weekly. Local law enforcement requires that owners claim items of theirs that have gone missing within 90 days, until the objects are turned over to an Idaho auctioneer.

The auction, held in August, included tools, guns, jewelry, motorcycles, automobiles, electronics, recreational vehicles and bicycles. The profits go to the general funds of Boise and Ada County.

At the risk of sounding like a 5th grader, I say that’s not fair!

Don’t get me wrong, I know the city can’t store these items forever, and in many cases, the owners are definitely never coming back. But for quite a few people, it might be that they just don’t know their belongings have been recovered. Why do people who break the law by parking illegally find such easy forgiveness, but people whose cars and jewelry and firearms are stolen have no choice but to make those items a donation to the city’s budget?

Probably, the abandonment of efforts to collect parking tickets and the choice to sell unclaimed items were separate decisions, but when you consider them together, it looks bad. The punishment for being the victim of a crime appears to be worse than the punishment for commiting one.

Read the article here.

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NPA Conference and Expo off to Fast Start

The National Parking Association is holding its annual convention in Atlanta this week.  It started last night with a parking star studded event on the 70 plus story roof of the Downtown Westin.  I spent a few minutes there but my acrophobia kicked in and I huddled in a hallway and friends brought adult beverages.  They didn’t help but I was able to escape down an interior elevator.

My spies tell me that the event was first rate, with everyone who is anyone in the industry in attendance. Names like Lazowski, Skillette, Israel, Carter, Holleran,  Harwood, Pinyot, Beaman, Young, Manno, Walker, McLaurin, Pratt, Wolfe, Oglesvy, Jones, and of course Banning were seen among the 500 or so who attended the event.

Tuesday breakfast brought the keynote session with Bryan Mistele of INRIX providing food for thought on how connected and self driving vehicles may change the parking landscape. The rest of the day will bring breakout sessions, plus the opening of the trade show. The convention runs through Thursday.

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Parking Lot Prick Costs Target $4.6 Million

It’s not the kind of prick you are thinking – it’s the just-as-undesirable Sleeping Beauty kind of prick. A South Carolina woman was in a Target parking lot when her young daughter picked up a needle, reports al.com (Alabama). Horrified, the mother, Carla Denise Garrison, swatted the needle away and ended up getting stuck herself. She went into the store to seek treatment and later visited a doctor.

Garrison was tested for HIV and hepatitis after the needle stick. Results of both tests were negative but drugs prescribed to treat a possible HIV infection made her sick and bedridden.

The woman sued Target and offered to settle for $12,000, an amount that she said would cover her health costs and the loss of income while her husband missed work to care for her. Target offered her only $750 and the case went forward. Now the company has been ordered to pay Garrison $4.6 million.

I’m at a complete loss as to how Target is responsible for the injury in the first place, unless its parking lot is riddled with drugs and drug paraphernalia. And why smack a needle out of somebody’s grip when calm instructions to “hand it over” would be so much safer?

Target would have been better off to settle for $12,ooo, even though that money would have represented a desire to avoid further damages and not a statement of responsibility. It’s truly unfortunate that Garrison was harmed, but $4.6 million is ludicrous. Even if she contracted a disease, Target is still not responsible, in my opinion. If I trip in a parking lot, or step on gum, or back into someone’s car or have my door dinged by a shopping cart, these are all experiences I put in the “stuff happens” category.

Target plans to appeal.

Read the article here.

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City Lets Merchants Enforce Parking

There’s a new sheriff in town in Astoria, Oregon. City leaders have just agreed to let downtown merchants enforce parking regulations. According to dailyastorian.com, the city council has given authority to issue tickets to the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association. A member or representative of the association will be deputized as a “community outreach officer” and wear a uniform in his or her capacity as parking enforcement officer.

“There’s a mutual benefit for it. Nobody is more motivated to turn over parking downtown than the downtown association,” Astoria Police Chief Brad Johnston said. “They will always be more motivated to do that than the police department.”

The new parking enforcement officer will be paid through the city’s tourism fund, made up of money collected as hotel tax revenue. The outreach officer will also offer tourist information. The new approach to parking enforcement is part of a plan to increase tourism that will include efforts to clean up downtown areas.

I think this is a worthwhile experiment. One concern might be the public’s reaction to an enforcement officer that is not a police officer, but the city will take steps to inform citizens that the outreach officer is authorized in his or her work. Hopefully, the outreach officer is someone who can maintain an impartial approach to parking enforcement. Favoritism could derail the whole plan.

Ticket fees will still go to the city.

Read the article here.

 

 

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Mathematician ‘Solves’ Parking Lot Puzzle

I have been finding this article under my nose for the past few weeks. It has come in from correspondents like Brandy Stanley of Las Vegas and Consultant Mark Rimmer. When I saw it as a headline on Park News I realized it was time for a comment.

The article’s premise is that a British professor suddenly got the idea that if you angled parking in a garage or surface lot, it would be easier for parkers and garner a bit more space for parking since the aisles could be slightly narrower. This was seen as the greatest discovery since penicillin. My correspondents’ reaction was “OMG” as they slapped their respective foreheads. (NOT!)

It seems if you are in the parking industry, the knowledge of striping lots so cars park at an angle is pretty much taken for granted. Sure there are reasons not to use angle parking (turning radii at end of aisles being one, so you may have to reduce the number of spaces per lane, but that all depends on whether or not parking requirements have set the number of spaces you must squeeze into the lot.  Another reason to consider the parking requirement part of Shoup’s theories.

Gee, maybe our Limey professor could have made a quick phone call to the British Parking Association to see if they had discovered the mysterious solution to parking lot striping. Or maybe, just maybe, the reporter might have made that phone call or was this one of those stories “too good to check.”

Sheesh!

JVH

 

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People in Parking — A New Way of Finding Them

For years, Parking Today has produced an annual directly, People in Parking, or PIP.  This November we will be producing the directory but with a different focus. The directory you receive in the mail will feature hundreds of vendors who provide products you need to operate your parking facilities. Listed also will be nearly 2000 of their staff members so you can contact them as you need them.

The more than 12,000 listings you have been been receiving in the print edition will be available instantly on line at our web site.  Check it out.

You can enter a last name and get their full name, organization, and phone number. We have also added the ability to send them a private email. If they so wish, they can respond and you will be able to communicate directly. The page looks like this:

Pages from PT_August16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Its up and running now.  Enter your name and be sure we have your information correct. Unlike the print edition, we can correct the on line edition instantly.

Parking Today Media — Engaged, Dynamic, Innovative.

JVH

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Uber, Parking, Hotels, and Airports

Last year about this time, I had meetings in Chicago.  I drove to LAX, dropped my car at the Parking Spot, took the shuttle to the airport and flew to O’Hare where I rented a car.  I drove it 10 minutes to the Hyatt Regency O’Hare and parked in their giant structure. I crossed the bridge to the hotel, pulling my bag, entered the lobby and checked in. The process from plane to room, about 45 minutes.

The next morning I drove downtown – an hour and 15 minutes on the Kennedy “Expressway.”  I parked in one of the many SP Plus run garages in the loop and walked to my meetings. I then reversed the process and returned to my hotel. (I stay at the Hyatt O’Hare because it’s the location of PIE and I get a cheap upgrade.)

The following morning I checked out, drove to Budget, turned in my car, took the shuttle to the terminal. Transferring my bag four times (room to car, car to shuttle stop, stop to shuttle, shuttle to terminal.  Total time room to terminal: 40 minutes. At LAX I caught Parking Spot’s shuttle and picked up my car. Total cost, car rental plus parking, $325.

This week, I had meetings in Chicago. I decided to try something different. I took Uber to LAX and was dropped at my terminal.  I arrived at O’Hare and took the hotel shuttle to the Hyatt. Total time, plane to room, 30 minutes. Bag schlepping – twice – on and off shuttle.

The next morning, I took Uber from the hotel to my meetings downtown. A relaxing ride of about an hour and I had time to check email and return a few calls. I was dropped in front of my meeting. I walked a few blocks to the second meeting, then caught Uber back to the Hyatt.

The next morning I took the shuttle to the terminal – Total time room to terminal 20 minutes. Total cost for Uber $150 (OK I splurged on Uber X.)

A week ago I interviewed Jerry Skillett of Manhattan’s Icon Parking (and four other parking companies) and asked him about the affect he saw Uber had on his business. “Minimal,” he said. “Uber and Lyft only touch parking companies significantly in two places, hotels and airport parking.”

People are taking Uber to the airport, he told me and that’s causing problems for airport parking companies. Car Rental firms are taking a huge hit, too, but that’s another story.  Jerry went on to say that hotel valet and self park was in decline because those cars that weren’t rented weren’t parking at the hotels where business people stayed.

He noted that although I stayed by the airport and drove downtown to my meetings, most business travelers stay closer to their meetings and then after parking their car at the hotel walk or cab it to their business.  So the loss of local parking business due to Uber was minimal.

From my point of view, the ease and convenience of Uber like services far outweighed the fact that I was actually saving money. And according to Jerry, with the exception of hotels and airport parking, he is seeing virtually no reduction in his business.

I was in Chicago for a photo shoot for the cover of the next Parking Today, our Parking Technology Today issue. On the cover will be four “young guns” representing three new parking companies, Mark Lawrence of Spot Hero, Wen Sang and Diego Torres-Palma of Smarking and Harlan Karp of Parkonect. This discussion came up over a post shoot lunch. More on these four and our very spirited conversation later.

We could learn from the taxi industry and why they are failing. First Don’t Panic.  Second be nimble enough to change with the times. I use Uber because its easy, fast, and the cars are clean. The drivers are good too. I wonder why taxi companies can’t have an app, clean cars, and drivers that don’t snap at you when you want to go from LAX to the Marina.

If people use apps to take Uber, why not use apps to find parking. Spot Hero, Parking Panda, Park Whiz and the rest are there looking for garages to sign up. We need to rethink our business model. Do we want full garages, or do we want to increase the per space revenue?  Smarking might be able to help with that.

It was a great time in Chicago, even though it did rain on our outdoor shoot. These young men didn’t seem to care. My umbrella worked just fine.

JVH

 

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Park-and-Ride a Rising Market for Parking Industry

Every once in awhile I have a million-dollar idea that I wish I could make reality. The truth is, I’m a writer, not an entrepreneur. I can live with that. An article I just read on parknews.biz gave me my latest million-dollar idea and I’m sharing it with blog readers today. It’s parking for mass transit. According to greenbiz.com, park-and-ride is an up- and-coming parking arena with enormous potential.

Innovations in transit technology, business and policy are uncovering the real value of system components, and revealing that one of the most significant market opportunities is the park-and-ride (PnR).

Providing parking for public transportation users is a money maker that has a positive impact on the environment, communities and individuals. More available parking for mass transit users creates more mass transit users. That creates more mass transit. Parking is still part of the equation – a major part of the equation, because mass transit cannot be successful, in most areas, without it.

The article reports that while charging for parking can be a deterrent in other scenarios, charging for parking increases public transportation ridership. Despite that, most mass transit plans do not emphasize parking as part of construction, implementation or financial forecasts.

…most transit agencies don’t rank parking as a top strategy for attracting ridership, even though it is one of their highest expense categories. Given the imbalance in PnR management and use, it appears to be time for a new strategy.

It wouldn’t be too hard to adjust current parking technology and strategies to address the public transit setting. In my view, a new and untapped market is just ready and waiting for members of the parking industry.

Read the article here.

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Texas Judge Takes Parking Law Into His Own Hands

In Texas, you can make your own parking signs and share them with your neighbors and totally get away with it, at least that’s how it looks. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Larry Meyers tried it out and suffered no consequences besides a warning from enforcement officers and probable embarrassment at the hands of the media.

Installing a parking or traffic sign on a public street without permission is a violation of a city ordinance, City Attorney Sarah Fullenwider said Monday. City officers first warned Meyers and gave him until Thursday to take them down, Bennett said, but then went ahead and removed the signs.

So Meyers didn’t even have to take down the illegal signs himself – enforcement officers did it for him, reports star-telegram.com. Parking Code Compliance Director Brandon Bennett said Meyers will be cited if he repeats the offence.

Meyers has been a judge in Texas since 1992, so it’s hard to believe he doesn’t know anything about the legal preliminaries of the installation of street signs. He claims the signs were needed because Texas Christian University students are parking in his neighborhood.

The eight commercially made signs warned, “No parking anytime,” “Tow-away zone” and “Resident parking only,” but lacked identifying city tags on the back.

As far as politics go, this might not have been Meyers’ best idea. He’s the only statewide democrat in office in Texas and is running for reelection this year. His neighborhood homeowner’s association isn’t supporting his actions and his opponent is enthusiastically using the incident against him in her campaign.

Read the article here.

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One Billion YouTube Views

No, not my interview by Suzannah Rubinstein (you can view it Here)  but the Piano Guys.

We saw them this weekend at Los Angele’s Greek Theater. They are simply fantastic. Its a piano and a cello. That’s it. Most of the pieces they played were either written by them or adapted for this unique combination of instruments. About half way through the concert the Youtube folks came on stage and presented the guys with the one billion views award. Just over 100 artist channels, including some of the biggest names in music, have made this record.

If you listen to just one video, you will know why. Try this one.

All the best

JVH

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