I fought the law, and the law won

An Australian man recently got a $110 ticket for stopping at a yellow curb for 3 seconds. He was letting some family members out of the car outside of a local shopping mall. Now he’s shocked and appalled. According to the article:

Greg Bahr said he didn’t see a council officer, but received a $110 fine in the mail.

“There’s two lanes there and an island,” Mr Bahr said.

“Where I stopped there’s no way you’re creating a hazard and everybody was doing it.

“I was there for three seconds, put my blinkers on, and they hopped out – a $110 fine for stopping for three seconds.

People are always shocked when enforcement officials don’t agree with their idea of “not hurting anyone.” But breaking the law is breaking the law.

I’m not saying I agree with the policy of ticketing people who need a place to unload passengers and can’t find one – the mall should consider that accommodating these shoppers instead of punishing them will bring in a lot more money. But I also don’t agree with people who break the law and act like a victim when the fine rolls in.

In this case, the law won and the shopper lost. The mall might lose, too, if it’s patrons decide it’s too much trouble to get inside. The win-win is a legal loading zone.

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

A New Approach to Campus Parking Congestion

At California State University, Northridge, parking officials are hoping to reduce traffic congestion with the Zipcar program. The program offers rental cars to be used from the campus for about $8 per hour. According to the article:

“The program is meant to benefit CSUN students as well as faculty and staff in lowering gas emissions, parking congestion and [it] encourage[s] students that do drive to take public transit,” said Natalie Torlano, vice chair of environmental affairs for Associated Students.

The plan is that students who need to use a car during their school day will take public transit to campus and rent a car from there instead of driving their own car. The rental fees include gas, insurance and a mileage deal of 180 miles a day.

The university is trying several tactics to address parking problems. It offers shuttle service, and students are offered a significant parking permit discount for the shuttle lot. And engineering students at CSUN are working on a smartphone app that directs students to available parking.

“All of these programs are supported by the university in order to prevent building new structures that would in turn increase parking fees. State law prohibits educational funds from being used for anything but student tuition, parking has to support itself.”

I think this is a great idea. I know I could have used a rental car a hundred times when i was an underclassman living on my university’s campus. It’s great to see an organization get creative when it comes to solving its budget and parking issues.

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

No overnight parking violators will be prosecuted

The headline above is the exact wording on a sign in a parking lot for Stewarts in Frankfort, NY.

At the convenience store in Frankfort, the sign doesn’t seem to be causing any trouble, officials said. Stewarts spokeswoman Maria D’Amelia said the way the sign is designed is an attempt to keep things simple. “It’s pretty standard phrasing for this type of sign,” she said. “We would expect that it’s understood what it means.”

The way its written it can only mean one thing. If you park overnight, you won’t be prosecuted.  Period.  How can it mean anything else.

Although, assuming the last sentence in the quote above is accurate, maybe it can.

JVH

Social Share Toolbar
1 Comment

Off on a Trek

The next two weeks will be full of airports and hotels for me. I am joining Marilyn Etheridge at our upcoming “meet and greet” cocktail parties to introduce the Parking Industry Exhibition to folks in Atlanta, Washington DC, Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles. Unfortunately I have a commitment I couldn’t break during the Houston event so I won’t be at that one. The dates are:

Jan 21 — Atlanta

Jan 22 – Houston

Jan 28 – Washington DC

Jan 30 – Chicago

Feb 5 – Los Angeles

We will have cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and lots of good talk.  The events are being held in the early evening, usually 6-8 pm. Marilyn and I will be full of information about PIE 2014, the networking, the seminars, the exhibits and yes even the St. Patrick’s Day party. We already have over 200 attendees signed up for the five meet and greets but room for some more. If you want to join us, you need to contact Marilyn (metheridge1@verizon.net) and she will be sure you get an invite.

See you and Delta Air Lines around the next couple of weeks.

JVH

 

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

Jan 24 Last Date to be Listed in PIE 2014 directory!!!

Carol tells me that there are only a few booths left for PIE 2014.  If you are planning to exhibit, you should contact her now.  There are two reasons for that.

1. Be included in the show issue of Parking Today. Not only is it the formal show program, but it will be sent to 20,000 parking pros nationwide.  Don’t be left out.  Deadlines for the show issue is next week. You must sign up by Jan 24 to be included in the program.

2 Get the best possible location on the show floor.  There are only a few good ones left.

Contact Carol today carol@parkingtoday.com

JVH

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

Are parking apps dangerous?

If you’re looking for parking, you’re probably driving. So, unless there is another person in the car who can use the app for you, how do you you use a parking app safely?

Cleveland area residents are asking the same question after the city launched a pilot program to make its downtown area more friendly to its ever increasing population. The program includes Parker by Streetline to guide users to open parking spots.

Those who speak for the interests of bicyclists and pedestrians voiced their concerns at a recent meeting.

“By no means do we encourage interacting with the app while driving,” said Britanny  Blasing with Streetline in an email.  “To navigate to the closest available parking, a motorist would enter the desired destination before driving and then follow the voice guidance prompts.”

But is that realistic? The city wants more traffic in its downtown area – and not just those who come by car. An increase in traffic that includes cars, bicycles and walkers, and an app that leads drivers to look at their phone for parking is a recipe for disaster.

Councilman Joe Cimperman vowed to take the concerns raised at the meeting to his colleagues and the city administration.

“How do we do it so we’re not encouraging people to break the law?” Cimperman asked.

Texting and driving is banned not only in Cleveland and the entire state of Ohio. I’m sure there’s a solution out there and I’ll be glad to hear about it when it’s discovered.

 

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

Auditors — Your Business is Changing

I had dinner last night with a parking auditor. His company finds money in parking operations that should be in the bank, and tells owners and operators how to be sure that it gets there. I noted that my experience has been that theft isn’t the main problem.

He concurred, saying that with the advent of alternate payment methods (credit and debit cards, bank transfers, electronic purses, bitcoin?) losses by theft have greatly reduced.

However, he noted that even in the post credit card days theft wasn’t the main area of loss he and his auditors found. The losses came from the inability of personnel all up and down the line, from cashier to garage manager, from asset manager to garage owner to properly track the many different products that are sold in garages and ensure that the money is actually sold.

He told me that garages are moving from a ‘service’ business, that is a business of parking cars, to a ‘revenue transaction’ business, that is the business of conducting a monetary transaction. He noted that really parking had been that since horses were being parked, but that often garage staff stress the ‘service industry’ portion of the business  and neglect the ‘financial transaction portion.”

I concurred. As garages have become more automated, the interface of garage personnel and the parking public has become less and less. I pointed out that I couldn’t remember when I actually saw a live person in a garage helping me to park.

He stressed certain areas where parking operations could review their procedures to be sure that the ‘financial transaction’ was being properly tended to.

1. Monthly parkers — are there 1000 cards active in the system but only 800 active accounts paying. Are the other 200 legitimate ‘freebies’ or are they simply parking for free.

2. Neighborhood valet operations – Does the restaurant across the street that uses your garage for valet operations pay you for all the cars that are parked?

3. Validations – Are validations properly charged and tracked.

4. Monthly contracts – Are ‘time limited’ deals cut by real estate brokers to offer reduced rate parking for a period of time to sweeten a lease agreement raised when that deal is up.

5. Monthly contracts — Likewise, are escalation (cost of living) clauses in monthly contracts properly executed.

6. Daily rates — Are daily parking rates adjusted to meet market demands.

7. Freebies – Are parkers who actually owe for the parking let out for free when then ‘complain?” Plus how many contract cards are given out by owners to be accommodating?

My friend noted that these are only a few of the myriad of issues that auditors need to review when they visit parking operations. He said that he and his staff were also looking closely at the reports and programs that are produced by technology. Just because a report or printout says so much should have been collected, is the report right? A periodic transaction by transaction audit is a good idea to confirm that the machines are not making mistakes or dropping transactions here and there. It happens you know.

Technology, it seems, makes lives more complicated, not less.

JVH

 

 

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

People parking badly

Last fall, a Des Moines man and his wife both lost their jobs at a local hospital for parking in the Emergency Room lot. One of the pair had a permit for a paid lot nearby. The firing came under the category of “misconduct,” and though Mr. Hodges did the parking, Mrs. Hodges was in the car with him at the time.

Mrs. Hodges’ claim for unemployment benefits were recently denied because the judge says the lot was clearly marked, and Mrs. Hodges knowingly broke the rules.

According to the article:

“…Hodges said the car was not hers and she did not have control over where her husband parked it. Hodges, who had worked at UIHC since 2009 and had a permit for a paid lot elsewhere, admitted there were two occasions in which she was a passenger in her husband’s vehicle when he parked in the emergency lot.”

I think Mr. Hodges has been duly punished for his crime: unemployed for now and sleeping in the dog house for 5 to 10 years. It’s a harsh penalty for a minor crime – rapists, robbers and drunk drivers get off easier, sometimes. But the Hodges will be more aware of parking signs in the future.

 

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

Don’t let it snow anymore

Winter weather is the theme of many a news article lately. In New York City, residents are up in arms about parking tickets issued for cars actually stuck in place by ice. A water leak created a 3 to 4 inch thick sheet of ice in one neighborhood that’s trapped a city block’s worth of parked cars.

Some drivers were handed $65 tickets — which neighbors called just plain cold-hearted.

“I couldn’t get my car out right away and when I told them that they were like, ‘I already started writing the ticket,” said David Griffith, a 29-year-old, who works in the nightlife biz.

Residents who wanted to avoid the fine spent hours chipping their cars out of the ice and still several more hours griping about the effort and the cruelty of local police.

Beverly Lefhowitz, a psychotherapist who was forced  to wait in her Honda Civic, called it a major inconvenience.

“It’s a hassle. I had appointments today I had to cancel because someone told me they were giving tickets,”  Lefhowitz said.

Whining about the weather never gets anybody anywhere – but neither does a car frozen fast to the ground. Those officers needed to chill out.

 

Social Share Toolbar
Leave a comment

Winter Wonderland a Parking Nightmare

“Dibs” is something my brothers and I used to yell if we wanted our chair back when we returned from the bathroom. “Dibs” was what we said when there was one cookie left in the jar. “Dibs” was for the Star Wars sleeping bag on camping trips. “Shotgun” is for the front seat of the car, but “dibs” goes for nearly everything else. You want it, you gotta say “dibs.”

When winter weather gets rough, Chicago locals take “dibs” to the next level setting out patio furniture and other items to save their parking spaces. They shovel the snow away from public parking spots and then mark their territory with lawn ornaments and garbage cans. This tradition goes back a long way despite the reality that “dibs” is not legally binding, and a local politician has asked residents to try other tactics during this recent cold spell. Read more here.

In an emailed newsletter to constituents Monday, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) asked residents to resist the urge to lay claim to their shoveled-out spaces.

“The extreme temperatures today are causing difficulties for everyone. Please be patient. … I’d also like to remind you that ‘dibs’ are not allowed for shoveled parking spaces,” he wrote.

Waguespack also reminded that as Streets and Sanitation worked to clear the roads they’d be throwing away any random items left in the streets.

The alderman’s office is getting a steady stream of calls from residents complaining about parking issues, including “dibs,” blocked driveways and trapped cars. Leaders promise the roads will be cleared as soon as possible. I’m not sure patience is going to work as well as “dibs” for meeting anybody’s parking needs, but it’s worth a try.

Social Share Toolbar
3 Comments