Hoboken Contemplates New Parking Measures

Parking in Hoboken will soon be a whole new ball game, according to nj.com. The website reports this small, congested city has tight streets and limited parking options, but that’s going to change. City leaders are considering some measures to improve parking in Mile Square City.

Here are six changes on the table:

1. New parking meters
2. Higher penalties
3. Pay by phone option
4. Valet parking
5. Wayfinding system
6. New garages

I, too, live in a small town with tough parking, and I like all of these ideas, but I have my favorites. The latest increase in parking meter fees brought the cost up to $1.50 per hour. It’s not an extravagant amount by any means, and I’m not complaining about the total. It’s the number of quarters required to reach that amount that I object to. I think there should be a top limit to what you can charge without offering a credit card payment option. So, I think new meters are great, and I hope they are of the most intelligent kind.

Higher penalties is my other favorite. I don’t want to pay them, but I don’t want to pay any penalties, so I follow the rules. There are plenty of people who don’t, and I think it only fair that they pay a higher price for their behavior. Between the inconvenience they cause the rest of us and the price of enforcement, I say higher fees are completely reasonable.

I wish Hoboken all the best in its deliberations and eventual implementations.

Read the article here.

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Parking Program Helps Scofflaws Come Clean

During 2013, the University of Oregon parking enforcement team issued more than 15,000 tickets and received payment for all but 6,000, reports dailyemerald.com.

The fee for those unpaid tickets doubles after 30 days. Because of the high number of unpaid tickets and the high price multiple offenders face to clear their fees, the university has created an “amnesty” program for parking offenders. During February, anyone with an unpaid ticket can pay fines at the original rate.

To qualify for the amnesty program, the citation must have been issued before Jan. 1, 2014, and the vehicle cannot be registered in the university parking system.

Without this new program, the parking and transportation department could potentially receive an additional $300,000.

After applying this program, that amount could drop to $175,000 in total.

“We’d rather collect a small amount than not collect anything at all,” says Gwen Bolden, director of parking and transportation department..

I think this is an very generous offer from the university. Sure, they’ll be losing some money, but compare that to the cost of administrating the thousands of unpaid parking tickets still in circulation, and it might be a sensible exchange. Some people procrastinate paying fines – out of rebellion, poverty and a hundred other things – and that’s only exacerbated when the fine increases in a way that seems arbitrary to the offender. This program gives those people a chance to settle up.

Read the article here.

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Are Drones the New Parking Enforcers?

I find the possibility of drones enforcing parking regulations to be equally fascinating and frightening. According to gulftoday.ae, a Mr. Mohammed Darweesh has entered is parking enforcement drone prototype in the UAE Drones for Good Award event. Darweesh, an architect, designed the drone and says it will work with RIFD technology and will find its charging and grounding stations at the top of streetlight poles. The drone will take only seconds to to do the same work it takes a person to do in minutes.

“Dubai has a huge number of parking spaces and is being managed by over 900 inspectors, while drivers have to pay at the parking meters and put the parking receipt on prominent place like a dashboard to avoid fines. In the presence of this drone technology, there will be no need for drivers to find a parking meter and repeat the exercise. Just park the car and leave everything to the drone. The drone will come and read the Salik tag with the help of RIFD technology and charge the parking fee automatically,” Darweesh said.

It’s an amazing idea. I’m sure there are members of the parking industry more qualified to ask questions than I, but I have a few anyway:

1. What are the possible consequences of a malfunction?

2. How would individuals contest a ticket, if the drone made a mistake?

3. How will a hundred drones flying over a city checking meters improve ambiance?

4. What if the drones are hacked or shot down?

Now that I have shared my concerns, I’ll go back to thinking this is an amazing idea. I’d like to see it in action. Read the rest of the article here.

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Supply and Demand — the Rules Still Hold

We don’t often consider the ‘law’ of supply and demand when it comes to parking, but it fits in our business just as much as the selling of commodities, or widgets, or frankly anything else.

Consider: If the supply of parking spaces goes up,  and the demand remains steady, the price of a space tends to go down. On the other hand, if the demand for parking spaces increases, and the supply remains the same, the price tends to go up (Can you say Manhattan?)

I had a conversation the other day with a parking pro in Vancouver, BC. I had parked in a rather large structure near his office and noted that it was controlled by ‘pay by license plate’ equipment. I also noted that at noon on a business day, the garage was virtually empty.

“Yep” he said. “When the demand when south and the supply stayed the same, we had to do something. It meant reducing staff by automating and keeping our operational costs at a minimum.”

Seems that about four years ago the city opened a rapid transit system linking downtown to the Vancouver airport. In addition to helping travelers get from the airport to downtown more easily, it also reduced about 50,000 daily trips into the downtown area, and the resulting need for parking. Demand down, supply the same.

The parking industry in this city is flat, but not emotionally depressed. There are many office buildings under construction downtown and few if any have parking included in the design. In a few years, I’m told, as these new buildings fill, demand will rise, and with supply remaining the same, parking will be “back”in Hollywood North, as Vancouver, known in entertainment circles.

This cycle is being played out in other cities across North America as “progressive’ city councils look for ways to keep cars out of the central business districts and legislate autos and hence parking out of existence. More than three decades ago, Seattle approved Columbia Center, a 72 story skyscraper downtown. Virtually no parking was added to the facility. San Francisco completed Westfield Shopping Center in the trendy SOMA area  with no parking. Is the trend pervasive?  Yeah, kinda, sorta. Look around your city.

We are being told that the ‘young’ people today think less about cars than about their smart phones.  In ‘my day’ the first thing you did when you turned 16 was get a driver’s license. Now I try to bribe my granddaughter with a car, and she isn’t interested. Yikes.

Some tell us that the urbanization of youth is a passing trend and as soon as they marry and have families they will return to the ‘burbs’ and the lure of that quarter acre and white picket fence. I know that oldsters are moving downtown, living in lofts and walking to clubs, restaurants, shopping, and work. And apparently they love it.

Wanna go skiing, or a quick trip to Vegas, rent a car. Why have the expense of owning one and the hassle of PARKING?

What’s all this mean to our industry?  Operators I spoke to were cautiously optimistic. They felt that it meant that not just demand would affect bottom lines, but also the ‘way’ parking was run would be a major factor.

We have seen that automation and technology are making the way we park a different experience. Parking apps that connect what we are doing downtown with parking also are becoming more important as demand lessens.

My sources tell me that patience is needed. As central business districts become more crowded, as buildings are renovated, built, and filled with offices and living space, parking supply will remain the same and demand will increase.

If that occurs, smiles will again appear on operator’s faces. In the meantime, to survive, the will have to rethink their business model and affect how they handle and operate parking space supply.  They ignore change at their peril.

JVH

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City is Honest About Parking Meter Problems

Reporters in Huntington, West Virginia recently took it upon themselves to conduct an in-depth analysis of parking meter use in their town, and the results were surprisingly informative and impartial. Both disgruntled residents and hardworking city officials were represented, and the facts were laid out clearly. According to the crew at wowktv.com crew, people around town don’t like the old-fashioned meters that are always falling apart – victims of the weather and frequent vandalism.

Huntington Parking Board Director Mike Wilson says about half of the city’s 1350 meters are still mechanical rather than digital. Wilson compared the meters to older vending machines.  He said that the machines are subject to weather and other conditions that cause them to break. Wilson said he gets up to ten broken meter reports a day.

Huntington parkers prefer the digital meters that work reliably and keep time accurately. The older meters, according to the article, time out within 4o to 15 minutes before they should, resulting in invalid citations.

Wilson says those meters and parking tickets get fixed and dismissed after the customer files a broken meter report.

Wilson added, “We would hope you would call us if you feel you got a citation in error. I have a certified meter technician we can send out.”

It sounds like everybody in town is in agreement that the older meters are an issue, and the city tries its best to accommodate the problem. Besides a whole new installation of sparkling digital meters, that’s the best anybody can expect.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Baby, it’s still cold out there

With severe winter storms still rolling in and out of the Eastern states, weather continues to be a major item in parking news. In Providence, RI, and many other places, expected snowfall has created the need for school closures and parking bans, reports providencejournal.com. School children rejoice, but anybody over 20 and employed knows the inconvenience will be serious and expensive.

A citywide parking ban will go into effect at 2 a.m. on Monday, and remain in effect until further notice. Residents with overnight parking passes are advised that they cannot park on the street during the duration of the citywide parking ban. All vehicles parked on the street in violation of the citywide parking ban will be ticketed and towed to ensure that roadways can be plowed.

As someone who has lived most of his life in milder climates, it can be a stretch to understand how humans actually survive in places where it gets so cold. It’s not hard to say they are probably just stronger people than I am. Adversity is a part of life, but I’ll take mine in forms that don’t have to do with the weather.

“We expect heavy snowfall, high winds and other conditions that will significantly impact both the morning and evening commutes on Monday,” Mayor Jorge Elorza said. “I urge residents to comply with the citywide parking ban, exercise caution and prepare for rapidly changing travel conditions throughout the day. If you see a person or a family in need, please do what you can to either lend a helping hand or notify the City. When we all pull together, we are capable of overcoming any challenge.”

It’s a nice, positive spin Providence’s mayor provides. Residents might get through the storm more easily if they see themselves as a team united against the weather.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Ahhhh The Super Bowl

I now its heresy, but I”m not really enthralled with the Super Bowl, or frankly professional football.  I have no real skin in the game…I’m not in a pool, don’t have a favorite team, and find the entire concept distracting.

All that having been said, now that I know there is a Valet Parking Company owner playing for the Seattle Seahawks, maybe I should take a closer look. I understand that the Seahawks are playing the Boston Patriots and that the Patriots have survived “Deflategate”.  (As an aside, its seems that if you inflate a football in the locker room to 12.5PSI and then check its pressure halftime on the field where the temperature is say 40 degrees, the reading at that time will be 11.5PSI.  Physics you are a heartless bitch.)

It also seems the game will be played in Phoenix, just down the street from the home of our advertising director, Marcy Sparrow. I understand there is a big party at her house but you will have to contact her to get an invite.

AND Pete Carrol, coach of the Seahawks, is former coach at USC.  Although we UCLA types don’t really see that as an advantage. Oh and some guy named Tom Brady seems to be quarterback of the Patriots.

Now you have it, 100% of JVH’s knowledge about the Super Bowl. Well there is one more thing.

TV commercials for the broadcast are going for $4.5 million for 30 seconds. That’s up $500,000 from last year.  And they are sold out.

I have a friend who reads a book during the game, and only looks up when the commercials come on. Hmmmm  not such a bad idea.  I love Clydesdales as much as the next guy.

My prediction — the Seahawks by one touchdown.  Those valet guys are tough.

JVH

 

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Super Bowl — Super Valet

Parking seems to raise its head in every pop culture event know to man. This time is a player, Landon Cohen, was picked up by the Seahawks last week to play in the super bowl. He had to make a choice, play in the hottest football game of the year, or keep valeting cars in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  You can read his story here.

To give you a taste of this young man:

Cohen has learned to try to keep his emotions grounded. This is what happens when you get drafted out of Ohio (University, not State) in the seventh round by the Detroit Lions in 2008 and go through your rookie season on the first 0-16 team in NFL history. Or when you get signed and released by eight different teams in seven years – a career that has included stops with both the New England Patriots (2010 and 2011) and Seahawks (2011 and now). Or when you live your mornings in the YMCA, alternating between weight training and yoga and boxing.

And after all that? Then you spend the larger part of the past three years parking cars. That’s what makes Cohen a fun NFL story this week: His existence on a Super Bowl roster is more a matter of sheer determination rather than blessed talent. Ask any NFL player, and they will say this is the truly admirable grind – having the mental strength to see a roster need and fill it. Maybe only for a week, or a month … or, if fortune smiles on you, an entire season. And when it ends? You work a normal job, like running a valet service.

He seems well grounded, smart, and frankly he can park my car anytime.

JVH

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WOW!!! PIE 2015 Poised to Break all Attendance Records

With less than eight weeks to the opening day, the Parking Industry Exhibition 2015 is running well ahead of registration and booth sales compared with the same date last year. Registrations are up 10% and booth sales are 15% ahead of 2014.

I spoke with Eric yesterday and he told me that no only are registrations outstripping 2014 but they are full registrations, not simply ‘exhibits only.”  What this means is that the folks attending PIE 2015 are not only numerous, but also focused on parking technology, issues, and networking. They are looking to do business.

Marcy tells me that there is no question the exhibit floor will be sold out, ensuring that attendees will have a broad spectrum of suppliers to meet and explore.

Be sure to check out the Exhibition’s web site, review the seminars and networking activities, and sign up now.  You will be glad you did

JVH

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A Penny for Your Thoughts

Technology is a demanding entity. I have an iPhone G4 that works just fine, but is considered an actual relic in some circles. I went to MacMall to buy a new case for it, and the saleswoman scoffed, rolled her eyes and laughed hysterically until I walked out the door. (Just the first two things are true). They had absolutely nothing for a phone as old as mine – no chargers or accessories, just an attitude. My iPad is showing a similar lack of longevity. After only two years it inexplicably won’t connect to my Wi-fi and the battery is shot, so it needs a trip to the iPad service unit for some rewiring and a massage.

On the other end of the high-tech spectrum are the penny parking meters in Sycamore, Illinois. These meters are old in a way an iPhone can never be. The Daily-Chronicle.com reports that the meters are so out of date the city can’t find parts to repair them. Nobody makes penny meters anymore. That’s no surprise. The real question is why Sycamore is spending time and money keeping up meters that can’t possibly pay for themselves.

“No one has the timers that we need,” said Giovanni Serra, parking enforcement officer who also repairs the meters. “As far as screws and stuff go, we got all that. As far as timers go, we have a big problem.”

He said the city hasn’t had to replace a timer in at least eight years, when they were about $30. The city would even accept entire penny parking meters to harvest working timers, Serra said. During comprehensive planning last year, community members rallied behind keeping the old-school penny parking meters instead of modern digital parking meters – and the penny parking meters stayed.

“What we heard from the community is they appreciate that the penny parking meters add to the quaint, small downtown feel,” City Manager Brian Gregory said.

It’s pure sentimentality that’s keeping penny meters on the streets of Sycamore when half the people in our country think pennies should be eliminated from our list of coin and currency. I can respect that. I don’t know where the town is going to get the parts it needs, but I have a jar full of pennies on my desk that could pay for parking in Sycamore for about 100 years.

Read the rest of the article here.

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