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Parking Finds its Way into Art, Religion

I think it’s fascinating the way parking issues and experiences cross all kinds of political, cultural and social borders. On the same day I read about a reincarnated Druid king objecting to parking charges at Stonehenge, I also come across a description of an art display made up of paint scrapings left on parking structure walls by bad drivers.

In England, King Arthur Pendragon is taking English Heritage to court over parking charges applied to visitors of Stonehenge during the Summer Solstice, reports heatst.com.

Mr. Pendragon, whose real name is John Rothwell, appeared at Salisbury County Court this week to argue that parking should be free because people have a right to pray without hindrance.

Parking is free throughout the year, despite enormous increases in tourism at the site, except during the busy month of June. Mr. Pendragon will have an entire day in April to argue his case before the Salisbury Crown court. He’s taken his stand under the umbrella of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Read the article here.

The art exhibit, sponsored by Nissan, is called “Parking is Not an Art.” According to the article, published on mediapost.com, Nissan’s technology saves people the trouble of parking for themselves, but shouldn’t necessarily replace the skill of parking. Either way, the streaks of paint left all over parking garages, barriers and columns are somewhat beautiful, but totally avoidable.

With Nissan’s Around View Monitor technology, you might not have left your own Picasso at your local parking lot.

Read the article about the art exhibit here.

If there was ever any question about what a huge role parking plays in the lives of every day people, the way it transcends the every day and becomes art or a platform for human rights answers that question loud and clear.


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Parking – Such a Boring Topic — NOT!

Paul Barter is Keynoting at PIE — His ideas are so important he’s giving two talks. Here are his comments about his presentations:

If I had my way, on-street parking management would be boring. It would be one of those worthy but unsexy topics, like sewers, that we can take for granted so long as they are working. Boring on-street parking management means getting the job done, free of drama, devoid of conflict, quietly efficient. Give thanks if you already have boring on-street parking management!

We will also see how sadly non-boring on-street parking can be. Many cities around the world have epic on-street parking crises. In certain Indonesian cities, organized crime has fingers in the on-street parking, making parking reform an ‘interesting’ exercise. Cars parked all over the sidewalks are commonplace in urban China. Of course, even in the US, local elected officials see parking policy as a career-threatening ‘third rail’.

But, more importantly, weak parking management plays a leading role in a slow-motion but epic tragedy. For most of its eight or so decades in existence, on-street parking management has been limited, much hated by motorists, and deployed with great reluctance. To avoid the pain, most municipalities try instead to promote plentiful off-street parking, usually via on-site parking requirements with buildings.

It seemed like a good idea at the time but we now know this strategy has been causing a slow-motion tsunami of high cost, eroding tax bases, unaffordable housing, automobile dependence, and is just hugely wasteful.

But here’s the good news. Things don’t have to be like that anymore.

Today, there is no technical reason for any city not to have excellent parking management in any street that needs it. This is the fruit of hard-won experience and of the exploding technical possibilities we will take a look at, including on parking data, price setting, fee collection, enforcement and for keeping key stakeholders happy (or at least happier than they used to be).

One of these opportunities is to escape the parking excess tragedy I mentioned just now. We should take the chance for all the reasons mentioned above, not to mention because of how silly we will feel if certain scenarios for plummeting parking demand come true. And don’t forget that even today most cities are needlessly creating way more parking supply than is justified.

Do I hear you protest that there has to be more to avoiding parking excess than better on-street parking management? Yes indeed. A Mayor can’t just snap his or her fingers and make parking demand disappear.

It is easy say “let’s avoid parking excess” but how do we also get the “success” part?

I will share some answers to that question in my second session. One answer involves some parking policy mental jujitsu. Stop even trying to prevent spillover parking. Instead adopt a “Walkable Parking” mindset in which spillover is nothing to be scared of at all. In fact, it is meaningless in this mindset.

So come along to my sessions to learn how to make your on-street parking management as boring as possible. It is a key step towards a vision of wider parking success that will allow us to wean ourselves from our addiction to parking excess.


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More Sales — Learn from the Irish

Michael Houlihan is speaking at PIE in March. Whether you are selling equipment, services, a parking space, or your organization’s parking program, you will learn a lot from Michael. Here’s what he’s got to say about it:

Want to know the magic bullet that can double your sales in the new year? It’s so powerful, that if aimed right, your prospect will want your service or product even before they have justified the expense. In fact, they will be on your side, pulling for you to make the sale!

Imagine how effective your presentation will be when your prospect already likes you … and your company… and your product! How will it make you feel to know in advance that they want to buy?

How will it make you feel to be viewed as the “good” guy, the “fun” guy, and the “indispensable” guy or gal? I’m going to show you the world’s greatest sales pitch!

You will learn how to get your prospects’ attention with entertainment that makes you attractive, and more importantly, how to build the kind of relationships that turn your prospects in to loyal customers and enthusiastic advocates.

You will learn how people buy with their hearts and justify with their brains. Every product has features and benefits. But going beyond features and benefits is the real magic.

You will learn how convert your products or services into positive feelings. You will learn how to communicate those emotions, and blow up your sales by converting your customers into raving fans!

Hey, if we can do it, you can do it!

Michael Houlihan helps businesses improve their profitability. He is the founder of Barefoot Wines and the New York Times Bestselling Author of The Barefoot Spirit, How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand and The Entrepreneurial Culture – 23 Ways to Engage and Empower Your People. His Clients include Fortune 500’s and Inc 500’s. He is a sought-after speaker, trainer, and media guest. His articles and interviews appear in such business publications as Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, Parking Today  and the Huffington Post. www.thebarefootspirit.com

I can’t think of a better reason to attend PIE 2017 than Michael Houlihan. See you there

Click here to learn more.


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Car Lost in Parking Garage for Six Months

A Scotland man borrowed a friend’s car six months ago and lost it. According to autoblog.com, the individual, who sounds like the worst friend ever, used a pal’s BMW to drive to a concert in Manchester. He parked the car in a garage and went to the concert, but when he went back for the car, he realized he had no idea which garage he had parked in, let alone which level.

The man, who sounds like an absolute dunce, looked for the car, but gave up and confessed his mishap to his friend. The two searched for the car, but had no luck.

After five days of futile searching and countless calls and emails to the City Council and various parking and towing companies, the owner and his embarrassed friend called it quits and reported the vehicle as lost/stolen to police.

The owner of the car, who sounds like a fool, as well as a man who either gives up easily or has plenty of extra cars lying around, heard from police on December 30 that his car had been located in a downtown parking structure. There’s no word on whether these two men are still friends or how much the owner owes in fees for six months of parking. If I were either of them, I’d be really glad this article didn’t name any names.

Read the article here.

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Random Thoughts – Car Sales, Lost BMW, Uber, Christmas Travel, Volkswagen

Correspondent Mark reports in a message headed “Premature Speculation” that car sales in the US in 2016 are the highest ever and feels that the death of driving and the rise of the autonomous car is greatly overstated.  My contacts in the parking industry have been saying that for months. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it will be coming, but folks will still want their own car and refuse to give up complete control of their lives just yet. If you really want something to worry about, the same article said the average price of a car in 2016 was just north of $35,000. Yikes.

Astrid over at Parknews reports that someone in the UK ‘lost’ a friends BMW at a rock concert in Manchester, UK. Seems this chap borrowed the car, drove to the concert, parked, and then couldn’t find the car after the event. Knowing how these concerts go, I’m not surprised. However the deal was that the car was lost for six months. The article quotes the cop that found it that the parking fee will be around $7500.  My only thought was just how well was this lot managed that a car could sit there for six months and not be noticed. Sigh.

A ’study’ by Cornell University said that if New York City had 2000 Uber style vehicles running on “Uber pool” then 85% of the taxis could be removed from the streets of Manhattan. Of course the Uber Pool vehicles would have to be 10 passenger vans which means that people would have to hang out with strangers and visit all sorts of places before getting to their Tony restaurant or club. Give me a break. Not only would New Yorkers never stand for that, but no sentient being would. The reason Uber works is that it is cheap, and quick, and takes you where you want to go. Leave it to the pointy headed academics to try to ruin another great idea.

Speaking of Uber, a friend returned from a Christmas trip and flew into LAX.  After she got her bags she had to go outside, take the escalator to the upper deck to catch Uber. She told me that when she passed the taxi rank there was no one waiting for a taxi (9 PM on New Year’s Day). However, when she got to the Uber/Lyft Pick up spot, there were 200 people working their phones, trying to contact their ride. She said it took 25 minutes for the car to arrive. I asked why she didn’t take a taxi – the fare would have been about $15 more but she would have been home an hour sooner. Forehead slap time. She didn’t think of it. Uber is locked into our brains.

Volkswagen Financial has acquired Pay by Phone. That’s the arm of Volkswagen that handles leases and financial dealings when you buy the car. I’m not sure what this all means in the end, but I can’t help thinking that one could buy a Volkswagen Beetle and pay for it by your phone. Now that’s convenience.

Condo Owners in Chicago are renting out unused parking spaces that came with their condos Airbnb style. Seems like a reasonable idea to me. A company called ParqEx is connecting the space owners with drivers needing parking. A local wag noted that the City of Chicago would probably not be collecting tax on the spaces. I don’t think one should worry. The government seems to have an unerring ability to collect monies due. Even in Chicago.


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Barter, Goulston, Houlihan — When They Speak, People Listen

Barter, Goulston, Houlihan. What a terrific group of speakers we have lined up for PIE 2017. I’m going to tell you what makes them terrific, but you may not like it.

These three have attained the zenith in their respective fields. They know what they are talking about. They are going to tell you about parking, your employees, and your organization. And its very possible you will find what they say unnerving.  I have met all three and they take control of the room.

Paul Barter is a professor in transportation and parking policy in Singapore. He has a number of blogs he updates daily and its original material. Whereas I read something by Paul and then comment on it, he comes up with the real thing. When you hear his two talks at PIE, you will be hearing years of experience trekking through some of the largest and not so large cities on earth, looking at their parking operations, and determining what’s good and what isn’t. You might be surprised as how your parking issues in Mid America relate to those in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Oceania. Be prepared to think outside your parochial box and get great ideas on solving your parking issues.

Dr. Mark Goulston called us after he read the review that Astrid did of his book, “Just Listen.” He said he wanted to meet  “the gang” at Parking Today. We had lunch with him in our conference room. After an hour my head was spinning. When he walked in he looked like Steve Jobs, wire rimmed glasses and black turtleneck. He said he just came from a presentation when he channeled the famous entrepreneur giving his audience an overview of just how Jobs took Apple to its present level, and why it may not continue is meteoric rise. He taught us about Job’s  “Whoa, Wow, Hmmm, Yes”– and now I can’t get it out of my head. Mark is a ‘people hacker.’ In an hour he pretty much had the four of us present down pat. That hour is going to make a huge difference in Parking Today Media over the next year.

Michael Houlihan is the founder of Barefoot Winery. We had a skype chat with him and he immediately understood what we wanted and began to form a presentation for us. His experience comes from founding and growing one of the best know wine brands in the world and he now travels the globe sharing his success with anyone who will listen. He talked about marketing. Everything we do is marketing, he says. Whether you own a parking operation, are a city or university with parking, or manufacturer or supply parking equipment, you probably approach your market from a traditional direction. And that direction is most likely wrong. He said that he would like to title his presentation “You can sell more if you wear a funny hat.” It reminded me of a car dealership in LA, ‘Cal Worthington and his Dog Spot.’ Michael is funny, dynamic, and will give you advice that may just change how you look at your business.

I am so proud to have these three with us in March. Join us and find out why. www.pieshow.parkingtoday.com


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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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