Time seems to have caught up with me and I didn’t get around to blogging about this greatest of holidays until today. So there.
We hear so much about the ‘commercialization of Christmas” and the evils of ‘gift giving’ these days. To all that I say Bah Humbug.
The process of giving gifts is as important as the gifts themselves. In the few minutes it takes us to select a gift on line or the hours slogging through stores are moments we are thinking about the people who will be the recipients of our largesse.
Yes, we could open a college fund for the kids and put a few bucks in their names into it, but what will the kids think? Gee that’s great that Grampa send me a letter with a receipt in it for $100 rather than a train set… Right.
LA radio commentator and philosopher, Dennis Prager, was holding forth on this topic on Christmas Eve. He thought that the tradition of gift giving was right on and if it was the heart of the celebration, so be it. When we give we also receive something in return, even if we never see or talk to the person who got the gift.
A women called in to the program and noted that as she walked through the stores, she heard many conversations that went like: “This is the perfect thing for Max, he will love it.” or “This color will look just right on Mary.” In these little conversations the gift giver was thinking about the person involved. What are their preferences, what do they like, what colors or shapes would look good on them.
Wise person, that woman.
Yes, Christmastime is magic, its mysteries and traditions have survived two millennia. When things last that long, why buck the tide? Not only is Christmas filled with tradition, it is filled with wisdom. And part of that is the tradition of gift giving.
We had a wonderful family Christmas celebration. And I wish all the best to you and yours…
HO HO HO
This is really strange — I don’t know if they are just trying to be PC or really don’t understand the problem but in this article they talk at length about how they are going to begin charging folks who park in disabled spaces. Fair Enough.
But not once in the article or seemingly in the discussions, is the problem of placard abuse mentioned. If you have a ‘wheel chair’ disabled placard, it will still be free, but all the rest will have to pay. The article did acknowledge that on a given day, over 1000 spaces in downtown Portland were occupied with disabled permits, but only 21 were wheel chair permits.
The article goes on and on about the amount of revenue that will be raised. but says nothing about giving disabled access that is denied due to placard abuse. There are over 90,000 handicapped placards issued in the Portland area, 2000 of which are for those requiring wheel chairs. I wonder how that number will change when the new law goes into affect.
The only reasonable way to stop placard abuse is to charge for parking. Disabled people tell me they don’t want free parking, they want and need access. Seems reasonable to me.
Let’s remember to follow up in Portland in a year or so and find out how many disabled placards are on file.
Its Christmas time in the city and time to see movies. I have seen two in the past week, one at my behest and one kicking and screaming all the way. Here’s my take.
The Hobbit is a must see if you liked the Lord of the Rings series. Peter Jackson does it again with his trip to middle earth and the “Desolation of Smaug.” As in the past movies, this is a long quest with an indeterminate end.
Set in the beauty of New Zealand, the visuals are simply wonderful. I could list the players but you would recognize some of the names however with their heavy makeup and differing statures, you wouldn’t connect the actors to the names anyway.
I will say that Ian McKellen reprises his role and the wizard Gandolf and if you liked the dwarfs in the previous movies, they are back, in all their campy glory. Stephen Fry overplays his role as mayor of a community threatened by the dragon Smaug just enough to be memorable
There is one irony in the casting. Martin Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins and Benedict Cumberbatch is the voice of Smaug, the dragon. It seems they also play opposite each other in the modern UK version of Sherlock, with Cumberbatch in the title role and Freeman holding forth as Watson. Neat, huh.
Peter Jackson keeps it dark, and of course sets up the next edition of the series, with Bilbo’s final words as Smaug flies off to destroy destroy destroy… “What have we done.”
My Granddaughter picked the Hunger Games, Catching Fire. I had no desire to see this movie, second in the series, because, after all, its really for teenage girls. Well not so much. For those of you living, like me, under a rock for the past five years, the story goes like this:
The government is totalitarian. Its headed by President Snow, played at his creepy best by Donald Sutherland. In order to distract the populace from their dire plight, the regime puts on the “Hunger Games.” In these, really beautiful young men and women fight each other to the death in a “game” that is controlled by the government, rather like the games held by the Romans. The winners are lauded, the losers, well buried.
The populace isn’t happy about all this, but are held in check by a ruthless military police. Now arrives the most recent game winner, one Katniss Everdeen played by Jennifer Lawrence, who is sympathetic to the rebellion. The President and his henchmen know she is a problem but it is decided that they can’t simply eliminate her. So they stage a sort of Game of Games where winners from all the districts are pit against one another, the goal being Katness’ demise. (Ashley, granddaughter, just read this and thinks I’m lame, but there you go.)
I’m told I need to see the first one which sort of sets all this one up, but I found it good fun as long as I had a guide sitting next to me.
This is a great movie for young people. No sex, what little cursing there is is ‘bleeped out’, and there is a lot of blood, fighting, heroes and villains. There is a bit of blurring of the lines as to the good guys and the bad guys but they sort themselves out in the end.
Katniss is a tad schizo in her selection of life partners. Moving from one to another and back again. When I commented on it both Robyn and Ashley told me that after all, when you are in the heat of battle things just happen. I think there may be a double standard here, but I don’t have the nerve to test it.
The story is much more complex than I have depicted and I’m sure HG aficionados are as into the nuances as die hard Trekkies. I had a good time and look forward to the two planned sequels as Katniss, who is now the “mockingjay,” and her crew take on the evil President Snow in the showdown coming soon to a theater near you. I have no clue why she is called a mockingjay, and am told by those how know that it is to complex to explain. So there.
This is a guest blog post by Ryan Neu, Co-founder of TicketZen (www.ticketzen.com), the company that has unified and optimized the way we pay parking tickets. City Officials interested in implementing mobile parking ticket collections in their city can reach Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parking in major metropolitan cities is no walk in the park. U.S. cities generate billions of dollars in parking-related fines–every year. While all cities have different policies and vendors to handle parking ticket issuance and collections, we set out to understand how some of our country’s biggest cities stack up in terms of parking ticket revenue generation. In this post, we will review the parking ticket revenue and population of the following cities: New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington D.C.
The following is the population of the six cities:
New York – 8,210,000
Los Angeles – 3,850,000
San Francisco – 812,000
Boston – 625,000
Washington D.C. – 580,000
Parking Ticket Revenue Generation
Next, we looked up the actual parking ticket revenue from the most recently available Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports.
In 2011, New York City was the clear front-runner with almost $600 million in collected parking fine revenue. Boston collected the lowest amount of parking fine revenue at $62.5 million.
Approximate Parking Ticket Revenue
New York City – $591,000,000
Chicago – $263,228,000
Los Angeles – $158,417,000
Washington D.C. – $92,600,000
San Francisco – $88,000,000
Boston – $62,500,000
New York City is 14x bigger than Washington D.C., so it is no surprise that New York generates more parking ticket revenue than Washington. However, if you look at the amount of parking ticket revenue collected by New York City and break it down to a parking-fine-to-citizen level, a different story emerges.
Parking Ticket Fines per Citizen
Out of these 6 cities, we know that New York City issues the most amount of parking tickets, but who generates the most amount of parking ticket revenue per citizen?
By dividing the actual parking ticket revenue, by the city’s population, Washington D.C. tops the chart.
Annual Parking Ticket Fine Amount per Citizen
Washington – $159 per citizen
San Francisco – $108 per citizen
Boston – $99 per citizen
Chicago – $97 per citizen
New York City – $71 per citizen
Los Angeles – $41 per citizen
Out of the sampled cities, Washington D.C. is the most aggressive in terms of ticket revenue generated per citizen. Washington D.C. collects roughly $159 of parking fine revenue per citizen, which is over 2x the amount generated by NYC per citizen. Next on the list is San Francisco ($108), Boston ($99), Chicago ($97), New York City ($71), and Los Angeles ($41).
Washington D.C.’s parking office has received a lot of attention recently. In 2011, D.C. generated the same amount of parking ticket revenue as Los Angeles, with only 17,000 parking meters (as compared to 40,000 in Los Angeles). (LINK http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/03/05/d-c-issues-record-number-of-parking-tickets-in-2011/). If you plan on parking in D.C., fill the meter diligently, or expect to get slapped with a parking ticket. Our nation’s capital relies on parking ticket revenue and is quite prolific with parking ticket issuance and compliance.
I have known Chuck for longer than either of us wants to acknowledge. He has been a tireless supporter and a good friend. Here is his retirement message:
After 42+ years of being part of the parking industry, I have decided to retire (I prefer the term planned unemployment) at the end of the year. I will, of course, fulfill any obligations for projects currently underway.
I entered the parking business as a cashier hoping to earn enough money so I could continue my education. Since that first night in the booth, I have never stopped learning. I learned that a revenue control system is not a substitute for management. I learned that customers are not always right but they must leave the facility thinking they are. I learned that for every parking action, there is an equal and opposite parking reaction.
I will miss seeing a precast double tee being positioned onto a new garage. I will miss the smell of fresh asphalt being laid onto a new lot. I will miss the sound of a coin dropping into a meter’s coin canister. I will miss the glare of the overhead lights as it reflects off the roof of vehicles parked beneath. I will miss the silence as I explain to a supervisor how the cashiers are able to steal money regularly from their facility. Yes, I will miss a lot of those things but, most of all, I will miss the many friends that I have made during the years.
I will maintain an association with The Integrity Group so my e-mail address will remain active. If you have need for parking consulting services, I trust you will consider them for the assignment.
I close with the words of J. Alfred Prufrock:
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous –
Almost, at times, the Fool.
Chuck Cullen Senior Associate – Parking Advisory Services
All the best, Chuck
The following letter is circulating from the SFMTA, the Parent of SF Park. I post it in its entirety.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), the agency that manages transportation in the city, established the SFpark pilot, using new technology and policies to improve parking in San Francisco. The pilot aims to reduce traffic by helping drivers find parking spaces more quickly. More parking availability makes streets less congested and safer. Improved parking meters that accept credit and debit cards and phone payment reduce frustration and parking citations.
The SFMTA and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both now preparing to evaluate the pilot using data collected during the pilot project. As the pilot phase comes to a close in 2014, the project will continue to operate and any major changes will be considered after evaluation is completed in Spring 2014. In the meantime, there will be some changes to the SFpark mobile app and the data feed that some other private parking mobile apps also use.
As of January 1st, 2014, the parking sensors in the street will be turned off and their data feed will no longer be available as parking sensor batteries have reached the end of their useful lives. This means that the real-time information on parking space occupancy will not be available for mobile apps and similar uses. The SFpark data feed and app will continue to show meter parking rates, as well as real-time space availability and rates at parking garages. The SFMTA will continue to conduct demand-responsive rate changes to find the lowest rates possible to help ensure there is a minimum number of open parking spaces on each block to reduce circling and double-parking.
It was my understanding that the sensors were an integral part of the entire system. That is, the goal of showing drivers, through their smart phones, where available on street parking is located, was important, and the data that the sensors collected was an integral part of the ability of the city to adjust parking rates based on the Shoup model.
All of this was so reduce the number of vehicles cruising for spaces thus saving the planet from CO, and as a adjunct at least pay for itself.
We have known for some months that the agreement with the vendor that supplied the sensors was coming to an end. That has now come true.
One industry wag observed:
The very issue I labor ( when VDT raised )is the absence if a commercial rationale to support what is a considerable investment (somewhere north of $25 million). If the investment isn’t saving time, saaving money or making money, it’s not an investment. This “boloney” around saving commuting time and CO2 is nebulous at best.
My guess is that after the beginning of the new year, we will never see a report on the viability of the system and that SFPark will go silently into that dark night.
After all, who wants to be the one to sign a report that a system was installed for a huge amount of money, and then the major part of the system, parking guidance and the ability to adjust rates using technology, was simply turned off because it was what? Too Expensive? Didn’t really work? The data was unavailable? The batteries were dead? Or as the head of SFPark once said, that “the technology was challenging.”
Is it really. Many cities around the country and around the world use the technology in various forms to good success. Why not San Francisco?
Parking lots and crime often go hand in hand. Something about a closed off parking garage or the wide open spaces of a parking lot give criminals the idea that they are going to be protected in their evil doing.
After a shopper was killed in a carjacking attempt at a New Jersey mall, management there are adding security to their garage.
“The safety and security of our shoppers, retail tenants and employees is our top priority,” Newport Centre Mall management said in a statement. “We take ongoing and special precautions during this busy time of year to protect everyone in the mall community.
“Those efforts include working closely with federal, state and local authorities to take appropriate security measures that provide a safe environment at our mall.”
I think criminals need to know they are being watched. Many parking areas are monitored by camera, and those that are not can easily be outfitted with some cheap, fake cameras installed next to a big sign that says “Your activities are being recorded.”
Take the anonymity out of parking lot crime, and I bet the rates go down swiftly.
Read the article here.
It’s safe to say I have no idea where Utrecht is, but I like what I’ve read about a parking garage recently completed for the University of Utrecht. It has 2,000 parking spots, and a bike shelter, and a public transit connection, and a climbing wall.
It’s true, a climbing wall. Parkers can scale the man-made cliff to the top floor and pick up their car when it’s time to go home at night. Read the article and see the photos here.
What a terrific way to make a parking garage multi-faceted. An amenity like a climbing wall will draw customers who might not have come otherwise. And it gives a potentially ugly building some architectural interest.
Life’s too short to be one dimensional, even in parking.
I love to see somebody putting their money where their mouth is. Sometimes it seems like there’s just so much talking and so little doing. I keep reading about the “new generation” that doesn’t want to live in the suburbs and commute to work, but instead, wants to live in the city and walk or take public transit to jobs, retail and restaurants.
Boston leaders have recently given the OK for a condominium to be built with no parking – that’s right, no parking.
The Boston Redevelopment Authority on Thursday approved the 15-story, 175-unit building at Lovejoy Wharf in the West End, where a new headquarters for athletic shoe company Converse Inc. is under construction. The authority voted to change previously approved plans, eliminating a 315-space parking garage.
This isn’t a threat to parking as an industry, and could be a boon for parking operators in the area. Neighbors aren’t so sure the plan is a good one, but it will remain to be seen how this gamble pays off.
Read the article here.
A Washington Post blogger points out the sad truth that hospitals around the country can tell you what their parking rates are, but not the charges for a test, scan, or operation.
Researchers Jillian Bernstein and Joseph Bernstein called 20 hospitals asking for the price of am electrocardiogram.
In the phone calls, the researchers would say they were uninsured and planning to pay for the test themselves, asking how much that would cost. Three hospitals were able to provide that information. By way of contrast, 19 hospitals were able to respond to a query about how much it would cost to park at the hospital, even when some of those parking prices had a few variables.
It’s true, hospital care and costs have many variables, but providers could at least offer a range or the cost of the procedure with no complications, giving patients an idea what the charges will be.
Parking is an easier service to price. I hope it stays that way – the last thing I need is for it to be added to my insurance premiums.
Read the blog here.