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A Super Super Bowl 50 (Not L but 50)

I am not a sports buff.  I watch one game a year and you know which one that is.  I love the opening ceremonies, the half time show (hoping for a wardrobe malfunction) and the commercials.  Oh the game is OK, too.

I was pleasant surprised  with Lady Gaga and her rendition of the national anthem. It was clean, expressive, and respectful. It certainly got the bad taste of Rosanne Barr out of my mouth. The national anthem is a battle song. It was written to be played by a brass with drums and cymbals. It is to be stirring, to bring visions of rockets and the fight for freedom. But I guess if you can’t have LA Philharmonic and 15,000 people singing along, Lady Gaga will do nicely.

Then there are the commercials.  I don’t think many stood out.  They were ok, but I’m not sure hit the peaks many have in the past, except one. And strangely enough, it was for the NFL.  It’s called Super Bowl Babies. Seems like the New York Blackout, the Superbowl spawns (to coin a phrase) a lot of snuggling afterwards. And nine months later, a plethora of babies.

These were the cutest kids, ages from three to their teens, and then adults whose parents watched the game in the sixties and seventies and then did what came natural. It was heartwarming to see them, staged on a mountaintop, in small groups, singing a song written just for them. Loved it.

I missed the Clydesdales, you just can’t beat a good horse commercial. Oh we got a glimpse, but Budweiser seems to have spent all its money on Helen Mirren who came as close to cursing as you can on public TV while impressing on us not to drink and drive.

The Halftime show. I really liked it. Beyonce didn’t overwhelm me, but then I wasn’t really listening too closely. Just watching her is enough. Coldplay…who is Coldplay?  But they sing and move well.  What I liked most was it seemed to harbor back to those half time shows we put on at UCLA when I was in the band.  We took up the entire field. Lots of music and moving. Smoke effects. Lights. and Beyonce got right down on the grass and did her thing where minutes before huge men tore into each other. Good job everyone.

Oh, I guess there was a football game. Broadcasters supported the wrong side. Nothing out of the ordinary there. I’m glad Peyton Manning’s group won. It was his 200th win and perhaps his last game. Sniff.

So will they return to Roman Numerals next year. Superbowl LI.  I doubt it.


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Parking Bill of Rights, Part Deux

A few years ago the City of Atlanta began a program to ‘fix’ its broken parking system. As part of this, they had a citizens commission work with parking managers in the city to go over every rule, regulation, and law to see what could be changed, fixed, or made more clear.

After month of discussions, the primary ‘fix’ was that the signage that provided instructions to parkers needed to be more clear.

It seems that when the rules are explained, and the reasoning behind them, the good citizens of Atlanta felt that the rules were fine. They just needed to be told about them.

Poor communication, you are a heartless beast.


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A Parking Bill of Rights

A California Assemblyman Gatto has proposed a “Parking Bill of Rights.” A news release from his office listed these “rights”:

  • Maintaining the law that tickets cannot be issued at broken meters. This law will expire at the end of 2016, and Gatto is looking to extend it.
  • Once street cleaning is finished, parking spots would immediately become available to drivers.
  • Valet attendants would not be able to tell drivers they couldn’t use metered spots or loading zones.
  • The implementation of demand-based pricing at meters, where meters would be cheaper at times when demand is low. This is already in effect in some areas of L.A., including downtown L.A. and Westwood Village.
  • If a car was illegally parked because of a crime and it wasn’t the car owner’s fault, tow companies would have a harder time fining the owner. For example, if someone steals your car, takes it for a ride and then ditches it somewhere where it’s illegal to park, tow companies wouldn’t be able to slap you with a huge bill.
  • Cities would not be allowed to hire private companies to work as “parking bounty hunters.”

We issue tickets at broken meters because we can’t collect fees with a broken meter. I rather like this “Right”. Let people park at broken meters and motivate the city to fix the meters. I realize that some feel that the wiley motorist will simply jam the meter and then claim its broken. That could be handled with ‘warnings’ given to such parkers. And after so many warnings, they get a ticket anyway.

I love the idea that once the street sweeper goes by, the populace can park on the street . But just how do you adjudicate this. If I see the sweeper go by, I will park. But if I didn’t see it go by, how will I know? I can see numerous arguments with the enforcement staff being generated over this one.

Valet attendants can’t use spaces in front of businesses. Huh…just how are they supposed to provide the valet service.  This one is a non starter.

Demand based Pricing?  Sure bring it on. I’m not sure how this benefits the parker, except to raise the fee he pays during high traffic times, but at least it will keep Don Shoup happy.

Of course a car owner shouldn’t have to pay parking fines when a car is stolen. Duh

But I love the last one — What, exactly, are “Parking Bounty Hunters.”  Are these enforcement staff, or are they collection agencies used to collect overdue citations. In either case, this, too, is a non starter.

I think our assemblyman needs to get some parking folk involved in his “bill of rights.” Many ideas are nice on paper but crumble when put in practice.


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No ‘savesies’ in Bethlehem, PA

As the snow piles up in the East, those of us who live in the West try to figure out how anyone could possibly survive in such an extreme climate. We also wonder about references to regional practices like “savesies.” It’s hard enough to imagine how people get through the day in negative temperatures, but they have to dig out their parking spaces, too? It sounds like torture.

In Bethlehem, PA, city leaders are opposed to the tradition of savesies and have promised to throw out any items left on the street to save parking spaces, reports lehighvalleylive.com.

Anything residents have been using to save their parking space — a chair, a saw horse, buckets — must be out of the street, too.

I’m not sure the city shouldn’t be thanking these determined individuals for creating their own parking. Five feet of snow fall; one guy risks certain death, or just frostbite, to dig out his car; he wants the space he has created for his own use exclusively. It makes a little sense. I can relate because I hate it when people park in front of my house. I haven’t shoveled snow for hours to clear the space, but I think of that area as belonging to me and I don’t want other people using it. But public property doesn’t work that way.

It seems there should be a plan for parking in harsh climates. Cities could offer the use of a downtown garage and extended bus service; or let residents park in school parking lots between 5 pm and 7 am; or offer a short-term permit for the parking spot in front of your house. It sounds like things are hard enough without making parking difficult, too.

Read the entire article by clicking here.

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Sacramento to Test ‘Parking Ticket Insurance’

Sacramento is planning to test a new feature on downtown parking meters: parking ticket insurance, reports the Sacramento Bee. When I saw the headline I imagined a $1 a month premium that would insure the buyer and cover any ticket fines, but it’s a different concept. Instead of paying ticket fines for you, the program, called SpotZone, is a smartphone application that lets users buy additional time if they go over their two-hour maximum at the meter. So, it’s insurance, but not the traditional kind. Those who opt in can buy more time at the meter for a price that rises, but isn’t punitive.

The first two hours at the meter cost $1.75 each. That’s the regular price. Hour three costs $3. Every hour after that costs $3.75. You don’t have to walk back to the meter to pay for the extra hours; you pay remotely from your iPhone.

I like the idea of actual parking ticket insurance much better than this app. In a place like New York or San Francisco, where you are sure to get a ticket at least once a year, a little insurance could come in handy. I’m not sure it would be legal, but it seems practical. It could be administered by the city and cover one ticket per quarter, but after that you’re cut off. Any extra funds could go toward parking improvements. Getting a ticket is a crummy experience and plenty of people would be relieved to know their fines were covered. I’m not talking about regular offenders here – just people who occasionally screw up and find a white envelope on their windshield.

This is a brainstorm of a blog, but new concepts don’t show up every day, so they should be explored when they do.

Read the article here.

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Heavy Snowfall Creates Financial Windfall for DC

Last week’s blizzard earned Washington, D.C. $1,369,750 in parking ticket fines, reports nbcwashington.com. Residents who parked in emergency snow routes were ticketed, towed and/or impounded. Tickets handed out on Friday, January 22 were later rescinded because city leaders were concerned some people might not have understood the rules or were too occupied in preparations for the storm to move their cars. That move brought the total down to around $600,000.

“Don’t park your car illegally, and that includes parking it kind of in the middle of the street next to the snow bank,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Tuesday. Cars should be parked no more than 12 inches from a curb, not a snow bank, or drivers risk a ticket, she said.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and it seems to me that Washington, D.C. is justified in enforcing strict parking requirements during one of its worst storms ever. That doesn’t change the fact that residents experiencing severe weather are going to expect leniency – not tickets. It’s an interesting conundrum.

Having seen what delayed snow removal does to the roads, I say hand out those tickets to anyone and everyone. They won’t like the fines, but they won’t like impassable roads either.

Read the article here.

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PIE Registration Ahead of Last Year’s Record

The Registrations for PIE 2016 in Las Vegas is running ahead of the record 1086 attendees for four weeks ahead of opening day. Eric tells me its time to cut down on my consumption of adult beverages and relax, that attendees are signing up in droves.

People in the trade show business know its a fact. Attendees make up their minds to come early, but actually sign up at the last minute. This causes huge problems for the organizers as they don’t know how to prepare, how much food to order, how many chairs to put in the seminar rooms. But it is a fact of life in the expo biz.

We are extremely happy with the current results. It shows that PIE 2016 will be, as advertised, the largest and best attended PIE in history. Sign up now and get your room.– the room block with the guaranteed low rate of $114 ends next Wednesday. Go to pieshow.parkingtoday.com to register.



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Dallas Needs More/Less Parking

Dallas has the same problems as many other big cities: too much parking and too little parking. According to D Magazine, there are 69,000 parking spots in Dallas, and some people think there should be more. But research from the State Smart Transportation Initiative in Madison, Wisconsin, and the University of Connecticut, suggests that it is limited parking, not plentiful parking, that makes a city successful.

D Magazine’s opinion writer, Peter Simek, says the city’s parking and driving culture don’t currently support that research.

Dallas begins with the assumption that everyone has to drive everywhere because this is Dallas, and as a result we cater to a market that will always be hungry for more available parking.

Every city has its reality, regardless of the true need for more parking or less parking. New York City has a comprehensive public transit system, so it’s easy to emphasize that convenience over creating parking spaces. Washington D.C., while completely landlocked, is also working on the “less is more” approach. Dallas is neither landlocked nor in possession of adequate public transportation, so the argument is more complicated. There is room for more parking and there are cars to put in those spaces whose owners don’t have other options for transportation. Simek suggests it’s a matter of attitude.

We have to accept that limiting park is a good thing, that it can increase economic viability, and that it is the only way to break the cycle of cause and effect that drives Dallas’ persistently car-centric approach to urban revitalization.

Asking Texans to give up their “car-centric” approach is a brave and interesting tactic. What seems more concrete to me would be addressing the convenience and location of current parking resources. Maybe there is some rearranging that would solve the problem. Maybe they have exactly what they need already

Read the article here.





Read the article here.

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Tradition vs. Good Business Sense

Its official. The are beginning to charge for parking at the hotels in Las Vegas. Another tradition bites the dust.

It was so great — you drove up in front of the hotel, tossed your keys to the valet, and they parked your car. You were treated like Royalty.  It was a little thing, but a good one. Las Vegas always led the pack with service. There was free drinks at the tables, buffets that stopped traffic, and free self and valet parking.

I always went to Sin City with the idea that gambling was rather like going to a show. You invested a certain amount of money, had a good time, and probably lost the money, like the price of the ticket to see an Elvis impersonator. That way, you never felt bad when you lost. And just maybe, you would win. (yeah right).

But when you left, a tad poorer than when you arrive, you handed your ticket to the valet and there it came, your car was delivered, free,  right to where you were standing. That felt good, and took out some of the sting when you split 10s.

But no more.  Good business sense has taken over. The MGM hotel chain which owns a dozen of the casinos dotting the Vegas Strip, including the Bellagio, MGM Grand, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay has decided that it will charge $10 a day for self parking, more for valet. So who gets hit the most. Yes, those of us from LA who drive across the beautiful desert to visit.

Why? Money, that’s why. Seems the days when all the profits in the hotel trade in Las Vegas came from the gaming tables is gone. In fact, less than half now comes from craps, slots, and blackjack. The rest is from food, hotel rooms, and entertainment…. and soon parking.

Do the numbers.  MGM Resorts alone has over 37,000 spaces on the strip and assuming only half of them are full each night, that would generate $67.5 million a year. That not chump change, even in Vegas. How long will it take the others to jump on board.

So the decision was made. some lucky PARCS company will get a dozen large systems on this go alone. Will MGM be a little sneaky and divide up the systems into two or three parts. Thus motivating the companies to do their best to keep the deal? It worked at Schipol airport in Amsterdam, why not here.

But I digress. Its been tradition that some of the amenities were ‘free’ in Las Vegas. You might not be able to be ‘comped’ for your room, but your car got a place to park. Not any more. Its sad, but then, that’s how business is done.


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Missoula’s, MT new parking meters pose difficulties for handicapped patrons…NOT!!!

When I read the headline that we picked up from the local paper on parknews.biz, I scratched my head. I didn’t think that new meters would cause problems. I was right.

Its almost like the people that write the headlines don’t read the article. The headline above, which refer’s to the new T2 Luke machines installed in the Montana city, is extremely misleading. (I added the “NOT!!!”)

The article points out that handicapped parkers were surprised when they found they had to pay for parking, certainly not something having to do with the Pay by License plate equipment.  It also seems that there was some confusion as how to add time, once again not a problem with the equipment but with the city and its communications.

It also seems that the problems the handicapped were having was no different than the problems with existing meters (difficulty holding on to coin and placing it in the meter).

There is one area that needs to be explored, that is the use of pay by cell in Missoula, and I think that’s underway. The pay by cell would enable the disabled to use their phone to pay and that will alleviate any issues, but once again this is not a problem with the ‘new parking meters’.

I do wish editors would read their headlines as well as their articles before OKing the piece for print. The headlines can give a very different meaning to the article and so often readers stop reading when the type goes to 9 point from 24 point.



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