People Don’t Agree to Pay for Parking

When I read news articles about parking I’m always shocked by the concern parking industry policy makers show when the public voices its displeasure about paid parking. It’s a nice gesture, but is technically not necessary. Parking leaders might be sincere and they might be faking it, but I’m always surprised, because it’s not exactly the public’s decision whether their parking is free or costs $10, is it?

Palm Springs officials are dealing with a bad reaction to a recent decision to charge for parking at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. People are mad for a variety of reasons, including their claim that the city has not appropriately studied how charging for parking will increase operation costs at the tourist attraction. But it all comes down to them wanting free parking. Read the article here.

Nobody WANTS to pay for parking. Nobody likes paying for parking, and if given the choice, they’ll choose free parking 99.9 percent of the time – and I’m quoting my own poorly-conducted, but reliable research here. But plenty of people want to charge for parking and make a profit in their cities and parking operations. And because people have cars and like to go places where they need parking for those cars, it’s a symbiotic relationship, of sorts.

It’s a free market, so it makes sense to me that parking industry policies would reflect the actual supply and demand economics that run much of our country’s industries. If you operate a popular attraction and are the only parking operator at that attraction, you can charge for parking and parkers will just have to pay. Make the price fair so you don’t give people the feeling they are being exploited and people will get used to it pretty fast. They won’t be happy about it, but they’ll do it because they really want to get in that tiny box suspended by cable and go up 8,500 feet into the San Jacinto Mountains. Not my idea of fun, but who’s asking?

Sometimes you just have to make an executive decision and stop waiting for everyone to approve.


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An App to get your Parking Ticket “Fixed”

Of course this started in San Francisco, where else. The epicenter of high tech has come up with an app that will help you out of a parking ticket. Read all about it here.

It works like this — you snap a picture of your citation and send it to “Fixed” — yes that’s the name of the app.  Currently a real live person checks out the citation and offers advice on how to beat it.  These are legal reasons like the officer was mistaken, the information on the ticket was incorrect, etc.  “Fixed” then provides recommendation and actually writes a letter you can send to the local parking office. If the citation is revoked, “Fixed” gets 25% of the fine. If it isn’t, they get nothing.

The legal beagles checking the citations (law students) have found the following:

Already, the app flags contested tickets into four categories of protest. There are factual errors – maybe the officer misinterpreted the day on the sign. There are legal errors, perhaps when a car is parked more than 100 feet from an applicable sign. There are procedural errors (maybe the officer wrote you a ticket before the street cleaner came through instead of afterward). And then there are what Hegarty calls “appeals to fairness.” He got a ticket once for having no residential parking permit, despite the fact that he had demonstrably applied for one two months earlier.

The firm’s founder says that they are aiming to automate the process as they get more information about citations and common errors.

So, what do you think?  Is this a good thing or a bad thing? After all,  if this catches on, it will cut into the revenue generated by parking citations. That seems like a bad thing.

Well, perhaps not. Anything that holds our activities up to scrutiny would seem to be a good thing. If it makes parking officers more accurate, brings inconsistent laws to light, and ensures that the data collected is correct isn’t that be a good thing.

I realize that supervisors might feel that this is a direct assault on the quality of their administration, but why not? If, as in San Francisco, 26,000 citations are thrown out each year, for various a reasons maybe an outside view might be in order.

And my guess is that if there are 26,000 now, just how many improperly written citations are paid because folks don’t want to go to the trouble of fighting city hall.  The App makes this easier, and right now, they say 25,000 are on the waiting list to receive the app after the beta tests are over.  If the word gets out, perhaps a larger number of citations will be reviewed by “Fixed” and who knows…

Sunlight is the best antiseptic.


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Less parking, more parks

I’m an American, and one thing that says about me is that I like my parking plentiful and I like it free. I also talk loud, wear clunky white sneakers and eat junk food like a seagull – at least, according to some stereotypes.

But if you’re going to take away my parking, please use it for something I like better than parking – a park. Wide open spaces are another typically American affinity, and one that’s not embarrassing.

In the French Quarter of Vancouver, British Columbia, local businesses are putting up the funds to turn two parking spots into a parklet. The parklet will become an open space for residents and visitors to eat or rest or read and will feature a “bicycle bar” that riders can pull up to without getting off their bikes. The parklet’s supporters hope it will create a sense of community and encourage people to socialize, relax, and spend a little money in the neighborhood.

“Everyone in the buildings and homes around signed onto the project. We got an enormous amount of support. In terms of opposition, I met only a single person who said they weren’t interested in losing the parking,” said Anne-Geneviève Poitras, the sponsor of the parklet, which will measure about about 27 square metres.

In Vancouver, three parklets have already been put in place and six more are planned for 2014. I like it and I hope it’s a trend that other Americans can embrace, too.

Read the article here.


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An Airline that has done one thing right

If you travel a lot by air you know that the most boring part of the flight is the safety demonstration. They say the same things over and over and most just tune it out.

Delta, however, has taken a different approach. Their video presentations are smart, witty, and hold your interest right up til the end.

When they talk about whether or not you want to sit in an exit row and help with an exit during an emergency, there are three men in the row, twins and a third person. When the third person says “no” he is replaced by a third “twin.” Or in a subsequent video, a weightlifter says ‘no’ and is replaced by a pretty tough grandma.

When you are asked to put your smaller items under the seat in front of you, one person stores a Bonzai tree. When you are told to put away computers, naturally its an original Underwood.  Then when you are asked to turn off electronic items, a robot turns itself ‘off’ and a woman clicks off her full size ‘boom box.”  Of course at Christmas time, Santa and his elves are everywhere.

One of the most famous people in the older Delta videos has been the flight attendant who warns about smoking, particularly in the rest rooms. She moved into the new one, and waves her accusing finger at a pipe smoker in the next row. When they tell you that the nearest exit might be behind you, the entire plane turns and looks back, just as a poor man comes out of the restroom.

In one series, the people on the video are dressed as if they were in the 1950s, still following all the proper instructions. And of course the flight attendant warning about smoking is still there, but only eight years old.

But the biggest laugh came at the end of one video when the pilot, who had just thanked us for flying Delta, turned around and discovers a parking ticket on the plane’s windshield.

Obviously the folks at Delta are thinking outside the box. Flying is painful enough without having to sit through the FAA required demonstration for the 100th time. Way to go, Delta. Now if you could just get Atlanta to be weather free 365 days a year you would really have something.


Robert sent in this link:

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Parking to Affect Social Change

Every so often this topic raises its head and I feel a need to slap it down. The concept is that if we limit the number of parking spaces, either on street or off street, in the central city or in apartment/condo projects, we will by definition limit the number of cars and entice (read that force) people on to public transportation or sidewalks. This will increase the density in the central cities and meet the goals of environmentalists and urban planners.

My position is that these are choices that should be left to individuals and those who are building the projects where the parking spaces would be located. If as we heard at the last NPA show young office workers want to live where they work and be able to walk to entertainment, shopping, and employment from their homes, so be it. It doesn’t sound like we need to legislate this phenomena.  We can simply let it happen.

Employers will move their offices to central cities, away from suburban office parks, and meet the needs of their employees. Developers will either build high rises to accommodate these businesses, or develop office parks with housing, shopping, entertainment and office space co-located so they can attract employees who want that type of environment.

Limiting the number of parking spaces by fiat is, it seems to me, overreaching the planner’s mandate. Its a similar issue to requiring a certain number of spaces for a particular type of business. Shouldn’t the business owner be making that decision, not a faceless bureaucracy?

Parking is a resource, but its also a business. And businesses owners, including cities, universities, and airports, need to be able to make their own decisions.

An apartment owner can break out the cost of parking spaces and then charge for parking and reduce the rent for people who elect not to own cars. After all, parking is another expense to car ownership, like gas, oil, and insurance.

Perhaps charging for parking where it is now ‘free’ would have a greater affect on car ownership than mandating that if you own a car you will have no place to park it. Then the individual can make the decision, not have it thrust upon them.


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Parking Plans and Schemes

In Uttlesford, near Saffron Walden, Essex, England, the latest parking headline reads “Cashless Parking Scheme Launched Across Uttlesford.” The area’s district council has taken on the latest in technology at the urging of residents and business owners.

It interests me how the English use the word “scheme” to mean “plan,” while in the United States, a “scheme” is most decidedly a venture of some crookedness, but that’s neither here nor there. This scheme is an honest one with honest intentions toward easing parking for locals.

Cllr Robert Mitchell, NEPP Joint Committee Chairman, said: “We are pleased to make hassle free cashless car parking payment available to Uttlesford’s residents and visitors. Online transactions for a host of daily essentials are the norm for many, so adding parking to the list is good news.”

The plan is comprehensive too, with payment options including a smartphone app, online portal, text or phone call. Users can manage their account online and add time to their meter from anywhere they get cell or internet service.

It’s hard to imagine parking with such ease, but if it works in Uttlesford, it can work anywhere.

Read the article here.

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Last Call for PIE Exhibitors!!!

We are going to press with the program for PIE 2014.  It will be distributed at the trade event plus sent to 18,000 parking professionals.  If you want to be included in the program, you must that’s MUST secure your booth NLT Monday Morning.

Call Carol at 310 390 5244 ext 8


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Permit Parking Restricts Residents, Too

People will do a lot to protect their parking – they’ll even shoot themselves in the foot. Residents in a Portland neighborhood are considering permit-only parking regulations for their streets to fend off parkers from a nearby rail line. For now it’s just the TriMet employees working on the line who are parking in the residential area, but the competition for space will only get tougher when the rail line is finished, and locals don’t want to be pushed off their own roads.

I don’t think they’ve ever experienced resident-only parking restrictions or they wouldn’t be looking at this as a solution. ‘Resident only’ means you, your friends and your family are going to meet with considerable inconvenience when they want to stop by for dinner or spend the night. And it’s only a matter of time before someone you care about gets a ticket on your street, not to mention the 4 times a year you will forget to hang your permit in your window.

Brookly neighbors are considering enrolling in a neighborhood permit system. They would tax themselves $60 per year for a permit to park near their own houses. Anyone else parking in the area without a permit would get tickets.

What makes more sense to me is a 2, 3, or even 4-hour limit on weekdays during normal business hours. Commuters will be limited by the rule and will use the lot provided them instead of parking in the residential area.

It’s always a muddle to my why people want their privileges to be diminished so those same privileges can be withheld from someone else.

Read the article here.


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Validate On Street Parking –

Brandy Stanley in Las Vegas has always been cutting edge and her on street parking program is no different. Not only has she installed pay by space in Sin City, but also a program for locating Lunch Trucks (a phone app) and other sundry features.

One of the larger law firms in the city came to her and said that wanted to pay for their clients on street parking. The word ‘no’ not being in her vocabulary – unless she doesn’t want to do it  — she sat out to ‘make it so.’

In the area around the firm’s offices, the Pay by Space machines have a little sign that tells parkers if they are going to a certain law firm, to simply remember their space number and give it to the receptionist in the lobby.  She then goes on line and pays the parking fee for the client. Neat, huh?

It won’t work unless you are pay by space, but there you go.

Brandy tells me they are busy in Las Vegas. Her staff is not only running parking in the public lots, but in some private ones, too.  She says that she doesn’t solicit this business and explains that her charges are higher than the private sector, but a number of off street owners seem to trust her operating expertise.  She is also in negotiations to take over enforcement in the city of North Las Vegas.

In her spare time, she is fighting a class action law suit that concerns the turning off of parking meters when there is no parking fee required. She tells me that the streets are well signed, and people who have driving licenses are required to be able to read. Plus, she points out, when she shuts the meters down, she gets innumerable calls complaining that the meters are broken. Go Brandy.



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Super Bowl Parking Always Makes the News

The big game is just days away, and already, stories about parking on Super Bowl Sunday are filling the news. It’s not just the congestion around the area that will make it hard for everyone to park – residents and football fans alike; it’s not just the happy limo drivers who say they expect a lot of business and tell the public the best way to avoid the pre-game parking quagmire is to give them a call; and it’s not just team sustainable encouraging everyone to use public transit to get to the stadium. There’s also the crazy crew selling fake tickets to the game and fake passes for the parking lot.

Two Philadelphia men were just charged with selling fake Super Bowl tickets and parking passes. According to the article:

Police recovered 59 counterfeit tickets at Daniels’ Queens apartment Monday, including 36 Super Bowl tickets, eight stadium parking passes, 12 tickets to the NFL Honors Party at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan and three tickets to the NFL Commissioner’s Party at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, said NYPD Lt. Chris Fasano, who headed the investigation following a tip from NFL’s security division last month.

Every year Super Bowl-goers break records for the price paid to park near the stadium. Every year the people who live near the game site get creative and sell parking privileges on their lawns and in their garages for a premium. Every year somebody does something illegal to make a buck off Super Bowl Parking.

It’s the biggest game of the year and parking mania is the second act. Go team.

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