The People Want What They Want

I know that within the parking industry, paid parking is not seen as a factor that inhibits growth or business in retail areas, but the average parker strongly disagrees. In Dearborn, Michigan, city leaders are creating a parking plan that respects both perspectives. According to pressandguide.com, Dearborn is removing most of its meters and making public parking free.

“This is a very positive step that will help us achieve our goal of promoting more investment and activity in the west downtown. To get the best results for our local economy, we need to be realistic and remove anything that is perceived as an impediment to re-creating a robust and vibrant business district,” Mayor Jack O’Reilly said.

However, some of the meters will remain in place:

About 40 meters along Mason, Howard, and West Village Drive will remain after March 24 to encourage customer turnover. City officials said that is because these spots are among the most convenient parking spaces to nearby businesses.

So, even though the city has caved to the demands of the free-parking obsessed population, it’s giving a nod to all the experts and their research that say paid parking is best because it encourages turnover and provides brings in revenue.

I call that the best of both worlds.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Meter thief caught – $1 million later

A security guard in Sweden has been arrested and ordered to return more than $1 million (U.S.) he stole from parking meters in Malmo. The employee of a company hired to empty the meters, the man spent the last 10 years helping himself to meter money. As reported by thelocal.se, the thief knew how to work the system and kept his stash in the trunk of his car.

It’s a little bit of a relief to read these things happen in countries that are not the United States, and shocking to consider the amount of time he spent stealing before he got caught.

“He had very good knowledge about how the system worked,” Thomas Strandberg, CEO of municipal parking company Parkering Malmö, told The Local.

“We did things in the same way as other parking companies.”

He was eventually caught after a routine check and was sentenced to three years’ jail in 2013.

If only that “routine check” had been conducted more routinely – the city might have saved itself a big chunk of change. As it stands, I have real doubts that the former security guard  still has the hundreds of thousands he stole.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Parking drama makes the world go round

Parking can be so dramatic. Take Hayward, Calif., for instance. According to mercurynews.com, the city recently implemented parking limits for its free garages and lots so that BART commuters would stop parking there all day. The parking limits affected municipal employees who regularly park in the free garages and lots, so they were given permits to show they are exempt. Now local merchants want the same privilege. They park in the free lots to leave street spots open for their customers.

Hayward has issued more than 270 parking citations downtown since January after handing out warnings in December, said city spokesman Frank Holland.

True Value Hardware owner Jacob Shatara was ticketed for parking on A Street near his store at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and A about a half mile from the BART station.

“I’ve been parking there for 17 years, in the same spot, with no problems until now,” he said.

The noise around town is that city officials are going to propose a study of the situation. However, Mayor Barbara Halliday, perhaps motivated by the journalists ringing her phone off the hook, has other plans.

“I’m going to suggest that we offer businesses permits so their employees can park and not be ticketed. We should be looking at this now, not later,” said Halliday. She plans to bring up the subject at the next council meeting to see if other council members agree.

It makes sense to address the issue quickly and it would make more sense to address the issue before it became an issue. But it would be a problem for local news outlets if their city leaders never made a misstep. All’s well that ends well.

Read the article here.

 

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No Parking Like Snow Parking

I’ve already devoted plenty of blog space to the “space-saving” efforts of the parking public in snowbound areas like Chicago and Boston, but I’m so fascinated by this phenomenon, I can’t help myself. The idea that people choose to live in a place where they are so antagonized by the weather is only part of my fixation, but it’s mostly the whole “Lord of Flies,” survival of the fittest, “anarchy lives” approach to parking that I find interesting. We’re talking about parking, first of all, and a whole list of unwritten rules that give people the idea that they can save a public parking space for their own use just because the snow is piled up to their eyeballs. It’s study on human nature being played out on city streets.

It’s not going to be happy ending for those who have tricked themselves into thinking they really can save their parking spaces with lawn chairs and stolen pylons. City workers are already moving more than 900 truckloads of snow of the streets every day. And now, as a new storm is on its way and Boston approaches its all-time snow record, wstv.com reports that city garbage collectors will be picking up space saving items with the trash.

“It’s going to continue to be difficult probably for the next month. It doesn’t seem like there’s going to be a thaw anytime soon,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said. “We’re going to be living with these snow piles for a while.” Massachusetts has already spent $100 million on snow removal this winter and that number may grow, especially with another round of snow on the forecast for Tuesday.

I think that in moments of extreme, it’s smart for somebody to keep the shenanigans down to a minimum. Mayor Walsh has to keep a city in duress from falling apart and fighting over parking spots won’t help anybody. It’s time for Bostonians to practice the “we’re all in this together” approach” until the worst is over.

Read the rest of the article here.

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PIE Surpasses Last Year in Exhibition Size – Its Hall is Almost Full

Marcy tells me that the Parking Industry Exhibition is virtually sold out.  There are only a few spaces and a couple of table tops left. And with only 27 days left until the show begins, they will be sold shortly. If you want to exhibit at the first parking exhibition of the year, contact her NOW — marcy@parkingtoday.com.

PIE 2015 is not only the first event of the year, but it is also a place where you can get your questions answered, your knowledge increased, and your contact list filled. We have focused on the issues that our industry faces and the information is fresh, topically, and timely.

  • 3M’s closing has left many customers with questions. The first seminar on Monday is a place where these former 3M customers can meet, discuss alternatives, commiserate, and get ideas.
  • October will bring the EMV changes. If you take credit cards, what does this mean to you.
  • New to Parking –– or not so new—Sunday’s Boot camp is filling up
  • Technology Camp will prepare you to visit the exhibit floor and sort out the wheat from the chaff
  • Looking for a revenue control system – three seminars will headline twelve manufacturers. They will tell you all their secrets.
  • On street questions — Our experts will have the answers
  • Plus 25 other seminars — see them all at pieshow.parkingtoday.com

PIE 2015 offers an easy to follow program, clear concise descriptions of seminars, and the ability to quickly choose and attend the presentations you want.

As in the past, PIE 2015 leads the pack with networking, exhibits, and knowledge.

Plus, we have it on good authority that the weather in Chicago for PIE will be in the 60s.

JVH

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Is JVH Prescient? Sadly No – Leonard Nimoy and Spock

A few days ago I published a blog quoting Star Trek’s Spock and relating it to Anagog’s app enabling drivers to find on street spaces. I’m speaking to the founder of Anagog early next week and will have my comeuppance.

Sadly news broke on Friday of the death of the man who gave life to Spock, Leonard Nimoy. I understand he had been ill for some time. Nevertheless it was a shock to all who grew up on Star Trek and the Enterprise’s enigmatic science officer.

I remember seeing the first couple of episodes when I was in college (We all stopped studying and went to the rec hall for an hour to watch this strange new program.) Nemoy portrayed Spock as a brittle, almost strident persona. However after a few weeks, it began to change.

Spock became more, dare it say it, human, or maybe, Vulcan. Most of the Vulcans we saw on Star Trek through the years were almost gentle. They were quiet, introspective, and perhaps a bit aloof, but certainly not rough and strident. I’m thinking that perhaps the adjustments made by Leonard Nimoy in his approach to his alter ego could have set a tone for an entire race to come.  Or maybe Gene Roddenberry threw a bucket of cold water on him. I prefer to believe the former.

Nimoy said that people throughout the years often treated him as if he were Spock. They would give him the “Live Long and Prosper”  “V” like hand salute and refer to him as Mr. Spock, not Mr. Nimoy.

He tells of a time he went of a tour of Cal Tech and PhD Physics students would ask his opinion of extremely complicated theories.  Wisely, he slowly nodded his head and said “You are on the right track.” He had no clue what they were talking about.

Few actors have so completely embodied a role. Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes) and Boris Karloff (Frankenstein’s Monster) come to mind but in their case, the character was well documented in literature. Spock became a cult figure all on it own.

Even more than his fellow cast members, Nimoy’s Spock embodied a uniqueness. He was very strong, could read minds, sort of, had an extremely fast memory, and that infuriating logic. What made him so unique, I think, was his human side. He fought it, hid it, and resented it. But it was there and pushed out when needed.

Leonard Nimoy’s portrayal of Spock held firm through three seasons on TV in the late 1960s, through the movies (odd numbers bad, even numbers good), and on into the new generation of Star Trek, with Zachery Quinto playing his role as a young man.

Quinto and Nimoy became fast friends.  They did an Audi Commercial in which they raced to meet up at a country club to play golf.  Quinto in an Audi, Nimoy in a Mercedes. Of course Quinto won and made some off hand comment about “beat your again, old man.” At which point Nimoy caught Quinto’s shoulder in a Vulcan nerve pinch and the young man fell to the ground.  Spock will out.

We know more about the role he played than we do about the private man who played it. He was a very busy actor on TV, a photographer, a poet, played on the stage, and was a musician. But it was with Spock that the world identified him. His biracial character came through in his two autobiographies the first entitled “I Am Not Spock”  the second, published 20 years later, “I Am Spock.”

The character will live on. Unfortunately the man that played him cannot.

Leonard Nimoy, dead at 83. Rest in Peace

LLAP

JVH

 

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Pricey Parking

In Charleston, South Carolina, 50 parking spaces have been put up for sale for $98,000 apiece, reports wistv.com. According to the article, parking in the area is very tight, and 43 of the spots are already sold.

“You can’t get a loan on a parking space, so you have to come up with the cash,” Jennifer Davis of Domicile Real Estate Brokerage, says. “There’s so little parking in Charleston and to have your own spot is terrific.”

I’m curious as to how ownership of a parking spot is enforced. The article reports that the owner’s name will be painted on the space, but for the sake of privacy, I’m not sure that’s a good idea. I wouldn’t want to be identified as the guy who paid $98,000 for parking.

I know I’d buy a boat or a vacation home before I ever paid nearly $100k for a parking space, but it’s all hypothetical because I don’t have a extra $100k for any of those things at the moment. Still, I can be happy for the folks in a position to secure their parking comfort for themselves and their posterity.

Read the article here.

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Do we REALLY need on street parking?

OK, OK, I know — of course we need on street parking, particularly in place where there is no alternative. However, there are many places where parking is readily available, so…

Take my neighborhood. Every house has a driveway and a garage. 90% of the garages don’t hold cars, they hold virtually everything else. So the cars that would have been in those garages are on the street.  If, however, there was a limit on for on street parking, 3 or 4 hours for visitors, people would be forced to find alternatives, like cleaning out their garages or using their driveways.  A lot of the vehicular clutter in the neighborhood would go away.

What about neighborhoods had have on street permits?   I have a friend that lives in such an area. If you don’t have a permit you can’t park. Fair enough. But how many permits are issued? My friend lives in a building where her apartment has two spaces allocated in the garage for her car. She also has a permit on her car. So if she likes, she can park on street.

There are I think some apartments in the area with limited parking. I can see issuing folks in those buildings permits. Visitors are required to get a hangtag from their hosts and put it up on their car. (The host must apply for it in advance.  No drop ins in that neighborhood).

The reason for the on street permits is the huge shopping center nearby which charges its employees to park. Naturally they spill over into the neighborhoods and the on street permit program ensures that residents have a place to park. But what if they didn’t?

Houses in the neighborhood all have driveways and garages. Most of the apartments have off street parking. A  limit plus limited permits would handle the problem.

I know I know — shopping center employees would come over every three hours and move their cars…   There is always some fatal flaw.

This blog may seem silly, but there are cities that don’t allow overnight parking on street. If you are staying overnight, you have to make other arrangements. Once people get used to making arrangements in lieu of long term on street parking, apparently they do.

And the streets become broad avenues with plenty of room for traffic, much less blockage with people attempting to park, and the streetscape becomes eye candy.

My plan would require strict enforcement of on street parking. Citation revenue would skyrocket   – well maybe not but there would be revenue. And a lot of the clutter would be gone.

Go ahead, punch it full of holes, make my day!

JVH

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The Dog Ate My Homework, and 100 Other Excuses

The city of Harrisburg has a problem, people don’t like the parking program there.  Now there’s a unique statement. I’m sure this is the only spot where people don’t like parking programs. But reading the article Astrid picked up on Parknews.biz you would think the parking folks in Harrisburg were in grammar school and dealing with stern teachers. Read the article here.

As I understand it, the fact that there are improperly written parking tickets relate to modems not working, parking folks not setting their equipment properly, poor communications between enforcement officers and staff, plus a general breakdown of good PR between the parking operation and the citizens.

I note that on street parking in Harrisburg has been ‘purchased’ by an outside entity and is being run by a major parking operator. Fair enough.

If I discuss parking rules and regs and enforcement with some of the most successful municipal parking operations on the planet, they tell me that they focus first on customer service, then on the rest. Customer service is job one.

They feel that they are in a particularly difficult situation since the normal capitalistic self cleansing affect doesn’t work. There is no company standing in the wings to take over if a municipality does a poor job. They just keep doing a poor job.

So they must focus on keeping their customers happy. And the successful ones do.

This makes it even more difficult when a company takes over on a long term lease. Just where do the priorities lie? Normally a company tries to do a good job because if they don’t, they will lose something, business, a contract, employees, whatever.

Harrisburg is attempting to fix their PR problem by lowering prices. Hmmmmm. Who are the most respected companies you can think of   — Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Nordstroms…not really knows for low prices. But they are known for quality, service, and excellence.

When people in Harrisburg or anywhere else complain about parking, they complain about tickets, about lack of convenient parking, about surly enforcement staff and bureaucrats (see article). They seldom complain about the price of the parking.

They complain about the regulations being inflexible, about “parking Nazis”, about senior citizens being targeted, about tickets being written for the most minor infraction. One improperly written ticket does more harm than doubling the cost of parking downtown.

Municipal Parking Operations that focus on eliminating those problems have few complaints and fewer problems with citizens. They work with the citizens to ensure the rules are fair and fairly enforced. Maybe Harrisburg and municipalities like it need to take heed.

Oh yes, my dog didn’t eat my homework, but she did eat a $20 bill that slipped off my desk onto the floor. The cur left just enough so I couldn’t paste it back together and throw myself on the mercy of a bank teller. Sigh

JVH

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Star Trek and Anagog — I twist myself into a Pretzel with this one

In Star Trek IV, the Voyage Home, the Enterprise crew goes back in time to save the earth (and a pair of whales). Upon attempting to return to their proper century, Spoke is required to guess at the data needed. The dialogue reads like this:

Kirk: Mr. Spock, have you accounted for the variable mass of  whales and water in your time re-entry program?

Spock: Mr. Scott cannot give me exact figures, Admiral, so… I will make a guess.

Kirk: A guess? You, Spock? That’s extraordinary.

Spock: [to Dr. McCoy] I don’t think he understands.

McCoy: No, Spock. He means that he feels safer about your guesses than most other people’s facts.

Spock: Then you’re saying…

[pause]

Spock: It is a compliment?

McCoy: It is.

Spock: Ah. Then, I will try to make the best guess I can.

McCoy: Please do.

McCoy knows that Spoke will take a lifetime of knowledge, data, and skill and most likely come up with the right answer. Fair enough, but what the hell does this have to do with parking.

Anagog, and Israeli company, has developed a software program that uses a “best guess” to determine where parking spaces are open and where they will soon be open. They do this by using terabytes of data they have collected about parking habits across the globe. They combine that with other data that can affect parking (weather, time of day, day of week, holidays, local customs and events, etc) and can come up with a pretty close “best guess” to tell parkers where there are open spaces near their destination. They then give the parker ‘last mile’ turn by turn directions to get to the parking space. You can visit their web site here.

Anagog also supplies this service to other parking apps to enhance their capabilities. I know it all sounds a bit “Star Trekkie” but why not?  We are creatures of habit. We tend to do things the same way, time after time.  The more data you collect, the more accurate your predictions as to how someone, or group of people, will react or in this case, park. This manner of collecting information is called ‘crowd sourcing’ and seems to be gaining favor in the high tech community.

No in street sensors, no wifi data collection, no interfacing with city computers, but you still get good, reliable parking data. And the more its used, the more information collected, the better the end result.

I invite the folks at Anagog to drop me a line and clear up some of the ‘facts’ I made up above about their company. Sometimes I just get carried away.

JVH

PS — Another reference to our industry in Star Trek IV. Kirk and Crew landed their highjacked Klingon Bird of Prey in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and as they left to find whales, transparent aluminum, and some radioactivity for fuel, his last words to the three groups  was “Don’t forget where we parked.”

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