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Recent Posts

Are We Doing Ourselves a Disservice?

Astrid reports over at Parknews.biz that she is getting news every day that crime in parking, read that in garages and with PEOs in on the rise, up in some areas as much as 95%. What are we, as an industry, doing about it?

It is almost like we are ignoring the problem. I don’t see activity on a national level attacking crime in our facilities. We have always had a bad reputation in this area, mayhaps its time to attack it head on.

We here at PT have a New Year’s resolution, to have articles in every issue about crime reduction and safety in garages. Starting in January, we have an excellent article about a former law enforcement professional who is using techniques he learned on “the job” to not only lower crime, but raise revenues and overall customer satisfaction. From the article:

One day, when I was reviewing data analytics for this parking lot, I noticed that the revenue numbers were up, car counts were up, citation collection rate was higher, but citation issuing was down. In addition, the appeals rate was lower, and there were a lot fewer complaints about safety concerns like lighting conditions, cleanliness, and even harassment from the homeless population. So, what had changed? This parking lot was doing well before he stepped in, but now it was outperforming every other parking lot in the region.

The solution was “saturation patrols.” The idea being that at non peak times, employees were in their uniforms, out in the garage, engaging customers, picking up trash, fixing lighting, dealing with homeless, and making the place more welcoming. Read the entire story in January PT.

But, and it’s a big BUT…to do this we have to have boots on the ground. That means we have to have employees in the garage. Rather than investing in ways to lower the number of staff, we have to keep our customers engaged with those who work in the garages. Sure, maybe we can ‘get rid’ of a staff member by applying this technology or that, but what if we can increase our revenues by double or triple the cost of that staff member by keeping him or her in place? Which is the better decision?

I think I know the answer to that, and so do you.

JVH

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Now its Lack of Security, What Next?

Astrid has a lead article in today’s Parknews Newsletter that expresses concern that EV charging stations can be hacked and through that hack, can collect user data, and even bring down the grid.  Read all about it at Parknews.biz

This is not some JVH look out the window piece but is written by Sandia Labs after a four year study. That means that most likely its real. So where does that leave us. The study simply says that we are moving too fast, that EV charging companies are being incentivized to be first to market and get those chargers online. Adding high security takes time and costs money so it is being left by the wayside.

I know, I know – this is self serving for JVH since I have been saying for months, even years, that we are not letting the free market work, but are pushing much too fast on this EV program. We are leading technology by simply believing what ‘futurists’ are telling us and moving forward pall mall in spite of reality staring us in the face.

Parking Managers are telling me that not only are chargers becoming more expensive, but the cost of installation can and often is more than the cost of the charger. I was told just the other day that one manager simply would like to hire an electrical consulting engineer to give her a valid installation number before she started down this EV path. She then told me that those folks, ones who will actually commit to a number, are few and far between. She likened it to getting a price for home improvements, only to find when the walls are opened there is mold or rot that was unknown when the price was given.

Would it not make more sense to move slowly down this path. Allow technology, both in the EVs themselves and in chargers, to move up to the expectations of the garage operators and the driving public? I’m sure that the manufacturers will get there, I’m just not sure how long it will take.

I wonder if we aren’t in a VHS/Beta conundrum now. Will we make the right choice?

JVH

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Why not Drive?

Upwards of a quarter of a million people will fly out of LAX today and most will get to the airport by private vehicle. They will either be dropped off, or they will park their car at one of the many thousands of spots both on and off airport. Some will wring their hands at the stupidity of these drivers, but I wonder.

What was their alternative?

I guess they could take a fly away bus, Uber or Lyft, or a taxi, but then what. For the bus, they have to get to the terminus either be dropped off or park. They then must schlep their bags to the bus, and get them loaded on the bus. They leave on the buses’ schedule.

As for Uber/Lyft or taxi, the cost can be more than parking at the airport, depending on their length of stay. Plus at LAX and many other airports, they are dropped off outside the airport and must take a shuttle to their terminal, thus loading and unloading bags a second time.

When I take a parking shuttle, the driver helps me with my bags at both ends and then drops me off a few feet from the skycap. I then take a short walk to my plane. I do it on my schedule, not one created for me by a bureaucrat at a bus or Uber/Lyft or taxi company.

More important, when I return, I want to go home, not wait for a shuttle, Lyft, or a bus, and then sort out my transportation at the other end.

I want convenience. I know the back streets to take to miss most of the traffic to the airport. I make a reservation to park so I get the cheapest cost and am ensured of a spot. I know how long its going to take me, and when I have to leave to catch my flight.

It would seem the airport agrees with me. LAX just built a 4000 car parking garage adjacent to the airport with fast shuttles to each terminal. Why would an airport build parking, if, we assume, they are really wanting you not to drive. I can think of one reason, they listen to their customers. And they customers tell them they want to drive.

I wish those who are in the traffic and the hustle and bustle of the airport all the best. This year we are staying at home. But those holidays when we had to be at two celebrations on the same day are still in my memory.

A happy and grateful Thanksgiving to you and yours

JVH

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Thanksgiving 2022

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” ― Meister Eckhart

When we think about Thanksgiving, we most often think about sitting around a feast with family and friends and giving thanks for all the abundance we have. Fair enough.

However, how often do we express gratitude for all the things, big and small, that we experience every day. Do we simply wait until the last Thursday in November, and offer a blanket thanks for all the good we experienced during the past year.

It’s easy to remember the big things, the surviving a serious operation, the birth of a baby, the closing of a particularly difficult deal, a marriage, the meeting of a new friend. But what about the little things that make each day worth living, the warmth of the sun on your face on a spring day, the way a dog kisses you for no reason, how about the extra three seconds the light stayed green so you could get through.

We, if we are well bred and polite, thank people who hold the door, or who offered a hand when we needed it. The word thank you just rolls off the tongue like it was programmed. It’s expected. If we don’t, folks get the idea that we don’t ‘care.’ We say it so easily, so conveniently, I wonder if we really are thankful or simply make it an automatic part of our lives. It’s like the sign on the construction site apologizing for any inconvenience their activity and noise is bringing you. The sign went up before the construction started and will be the last one removed. Do they think that by simply putting up the sign that I will feel better at 3 am when the construction sounds fill my bedroom.

When we pray at the beginning of the Thanksgiving feast and offer than blanket thanks for all the good that has beset us, has it become just another sign along the way.

The question I will ask you, fair reader, is just how do you SHOW gratitude through your actions every day of your life. Do you compliment a person on the look of their dog, or the new jacket or hat. Do you surprise a friend with an extra donut or cup of coffee at work. Do you offer a smile or hug when its least expected.

When you say your daily prayers, do you thank the good Lord for all the little things, do you even remember what they were. A Harvard University study found that people who expressed gratitude for little things as well as big ones were happier. It suggested one make daily lists of things that they were grateful for from that day. At least then you would have to fumble with the preprogrammed prayer when you speak to your maker.

Maybe this Thanksgiving can be a time not only of thanks and gratitude, but a time of change. A time to begin to show that gratitude daily for all the things we are thankful for every day.

Have you thought about starting each day with a thank you and making it a habit?  If you do it, does your blood pressure go down?  Are you more creative?  And thus, attract people like a magnet with your energy of gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving 2022

Parking Today

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Elections a couple of generations ago

Here we are, almost two weeks after the election, and we still don’t have the final counts in some races. I guess its just modern technology. When I will a kid living in a small country town in the orange country of California, it worked like this.

Each precinct had about 800 to 1000 voters. There was an election board in each precinct made up of half Democrats and Half Republicans. You went into a little booth (cloth covered) and voted with a pen on printed ballots. When you came out, you handed the ballot to an inspector who placed it in a locked box with a slit on top.

Every so often someone (one of the board) came out and mark off on a list hanging outside the polling place those who had voted so far. (So poll watchers could know who voted and start working on those who hadn’t.)

When the polls closed, the board opened the locked box and counted the ballots. The Democrats kept an eye on the Republicans and vice versa. There was virtually no cheating going on. When the results were tallied, they were called in to the county, and then from there to the state.

Usually this was completed by 2AM, 4AM at the latest. Polls usually closed at 7 PM.

That was it. The ballots were placed back in the locked box and the next morning picked up and taken to headquarters where they were held if a recount was needed.

The only “Mail in ballots” were those for folks who where sick or out of town. You had to apply for those (Called absentee ballots) in advance. When they arrived at election headquarters those voters were marked off on the individual precinct’s voter list and those ballots were placed in the locked box taken out to the individual precincts and then counted with the other ballots. (I’m not sure about this, maybe they were counted at election headquarters and added on the totals as they came in.)

The precincts were in schools, libraries, fire stations and dare I say it private homes. In fact, our precinct was in the home next door and the homeowner served breakfast, lunch and a light dinner to those who came to vote. She was a great cook.

I know folks want to make it easy to vote, opening polls a month before election day and accepting mail in ballots. That is of some concern to me. What if we find that one candidate or another is an ax murderer a week before the election, but half the people have already voted. An ax murderer could easily have been elected. I guess that’s a shrug of the shoulders and a resounding “Oh Well.”

Usually the only places that election fraud occurred were places that had only one party or another on the election boards. Happened.  I’m a tad concerned about computerized voting. The guy who writes the program controls the election. If you don’t believe me, ask a person who writes code.

Just sayin

JVH

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Sometimes I wish I was wrong about this

As you frequent readers know, my favorite law is the law of unintended consequences. Virtually anything our politicians put their minds to have consequences they didn’t plan on. They seem to have a religious fervor about a topic, and don’t consider just what might happen if they plowed ahead.

The headlines today, after you get past the winners and losers in the election, and the bombing in Poland, seem to be surrounding the ‘green’ movement and what is happening world wide.

Germany: The Germans have discovered that closing their nuclear power plants and shuttering their coal powered electric generators was not a good move. They are now scrambling to reopen these vilified power sources to keep their citizens warm this winter.

Africa: The head of the African union is telling the COP conference in Egypt that they want to use their extremely abundant natural resources (read that natural gas) to power their emerging economies. For them, renewable energy is simply not reliable enough and too expensive.

Worldwide:  Automakers are deciding to use a different kind of battery on their electric vehicles to lower the cost – the kind of battery used on most cars in China. However, the new battery will lower the range of the EV. Not a good selling point.

Finance: Since it has been determined that wind farms are not truly financially viable, (expensive to build, expensive to maintain) and not really profitable, the private funding that was flowing into the wind side of the ‘green economy’ is drying up. I think this is the most telling. Let’s face it. Wall Street doesn’t put money where it won’t grow.

Government support: The green economy has grown based on government largess plus laws, like California, soon to require only EV sales in the state. If it was truly popular with the marketplace, none of this should be necessary.

The latest survey shows that about a third of the population in the US are likely to install a solar panel, buy and EV, install an EV charger at home, or even work in a ‘green’ industry. The rest are either negative or ambivalent. The market is not jumping on board.

So, in spite of trillions in government money invested, laws requiring green activity everywhere, entire countries moving their power sources to renewable energy, the law of unintended consequences is proving itself valid.

So, we are becoming mired in a so called ‘green economy’ the consequence of which is seemingly endless funding and legal requirements by all levels of government, and after decades of trying, only about a third of the populace is falling in line. AND we are finding that much of the renewable power supply and the like simply isn’t up to the requirements of modern power needs either in developed countries, or in developing countries.

We just can’t seem to get around my favorite law, whether we want to or not.

JVH

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The Parking Industry Expo and the Big Ten Parking and Transportation Conference Announce Joint Event for 2023

The Parking Industry Expo and the Big Ten and Friends Parking and Transportation Conference are excited to announce that their joint 2023 conference events will be held on March 28-30, 2023 at the Schaumberg Convention Center, PIE Director Marcy Sparrow announced today.

The Big Ten and Friends will host 80 plus university parking, transit, and fleet leaders, who will be participating in the PIE seminars and exhibit hall along with university-specific programming.  A highlight will be a panel session featuring university transportation experts on Thursday, March 30. During this interactive session, the experts will share their stories and answer questions from attendees.

Big Ten and Friends Parking and Transportation Conference representative Ross Allanson, CAPP, CPP, Director of Parking & Transportation Services at the University of Minnesota, said that he was pleased that the two organizations could come together after they paused their Big Ten conference while the country responded to COVID-19.  Centrally located, Schaumburg, Illinois is an ideal location for a conference that brings together universities and colleges from across the nation.

The Parking Industry Expo is sponsored annually by Parking Today Magazine. In 2023, it will be held at the Schaumburg Convention Center adjacent to the Schaumburg Renaissance Hotel, a short 20-minute ride north of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The dates are March 28-30. For full information, log on to  https://pieshow.parkingtoday.com/

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Veteran’s Day, 2022

When one writes about a recurring topic, we try to make the approach different from last time. It’s difficult when honoring veterans as the themes are usually similar – honor, commitment, sacrifice, love of country – and rightly so.

Veterans and those currently serving in the armed forces, today differ from those that served in conflicts prior to Vietnam. Many, in fact most of those who served in the world wars, in Korea, and in Vietnam were drafted. Like it or not, they were going. Today we take pride in an all-volunteer force. That is not in any way to disparage those who were drafted into service. Times are different.

Although technology has moved on, and the battlefields of today may look different than those of a generation ago, nothing ever replaces the soldier on the ground. To take a hill, cross a river, or overcome an enemy, it still must be done face to face. And whether we like it or not, some will make the ultimate sacrifice.

If serving in the military was ‘just another job’, then we would not observe days like Veteran’s Day. It’s the fact that members of the armed forces willingly risk their lives to protect our freedoms that makes a difference.

It is easy to sit at home and wave a flag on certain days. But some actually face the hell of battle, and some do not return. They are bound by honor, commitment, sacrifice and love of country. To them we owe more than our thanks, we owe our very lives.

JVH

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CMPA Meets in Los Angeles

The California Mobility and Parking Association met this week in LA and held a boffo event. Nearly 400 parking pros attended the two day event.I was most impressed with the professionalism shown by CMPA president John Hamblen and his board as they led the group through its first major event after Covid. In the picture above President Hamblen is presenting awards to CMPA members.

There were seminars, discussion, and a very respectable trade show. Vendors should have been very happy.  Kudus to the CMPA

JVH

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Maslow and the Election

As I write this at one in the afternoon on election day, I have no clue as to the potential outcomes. However, if one is to believe the media (and I don’t) the political pendulum will swing and a different looking government will be the result. I believe that will happen, but for a different reason.

If one ascribes to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you find that folks focus on food, shelter, water, and the like, and then on safety. More esoteric things like education, love, and social belonging come later. So, when we look out the window and see the sign at the filling station reminding us that gasoline has doubled in price, and that increase is reflected in the cost of food and shelter, we tend to vote for self preservation. We can sort out philosophical differences later.

When I look out the window and see homeless everywhere, when I actually know people who have been robbed and mugged, yes, I’m concerned about my safety and the safety of my family.  I then make the connection, maybe unfounded, but make the connection between those high prices, the homelessness, and the crime rate and the folks who are running the government and right or wrong, I vote for someone else.

I think that’s what is happening before our eyes. The pendulum may not swing as far as some think, or it might overwhelm the opposition, but mark my words, it is moving.

A colleague tells me that life is too binary. Things are either right or wrong, black or white, up or down. She says that’s not the way it should be. And she may be right. However, when my very ability to keep food on the table, heat during a snowstorm, or feel safe walking down the street, that comes first.

Don’t worry, after we experience a sea change and pricing is under control, cities are safe, and food is plentiful and affordable again, be it good or bad, we will start to rethink all the binary laws that were put into place, and that pendulum will start to swing back.

JVH

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