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Philadelphia Parking Hog Making Neighbors Crazy

I knew “savesies” was a thing during winter months, but somebody in Philadelphia takes it pretty seriously year round, according to billypen.com. After 7 or 8 years of illegally saving his parking spot using chairs, trash cans and other items, the unnamed resident of the 2200-block of E. Susquehanna in Fishtown has enough tickets to require a lien on his house, say police.

As our tipster, who shall remain anonymous, explained, “Every single person within a couple blocks knows it. We all complain about it constantly.”

If people are resorting to extreme measures like these, it’s clear there is a parking problem in the neighborhood. It’s also clear Mr. Unnamed is a pretty large jerk. He’s gone so far that neighbors take down his “savesies” items just to be mean and others give away his saved spot to other people just for fun. There’s nothing clear in the article about whether Mr. Unnamed has a vicious or vengeful streak, so maybe no one has fears of repercussion for these acts. But it was stated that he has made comments about his ability to control the police and deal with neighbors who complain about his practices.

“A week or two later,” said our tipster, “and the guy that does this said, ‘So do you have a problem with my cones?’ He said, ‘Listen, I took care of the cops. I’ll take care of you, too.’”

I’m curious if the neighbors who complain constantly would rather spend their time applying for parking permits. Billypen.com isn’t a real news site, so it can quote anonymous sources and call them tipsters. It also quotes “the police’ without offering any names so as far as I can tell it’s an article about nobody instigated by nobody and conformed by nobody – though still interesting.

There are enough parking shenanigans going on in the area that the website has a page called The Week in Parking. Possibly a good read for anyone working in parking in that area because without the constraints of ethical journalism standards, Billypen is like the TMZ of parking in Philadelphia. That said, I only read the one article.

Visit billypen.com’s Week in Parking page here.  According to its website: “Billy Penn is a mobile-first platform designed to connect citizens to relevant news and information about Philadelphia, and to drive civic engagement via affinity groups and events.”

Read the article and see photos here.

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Hong Kong Resident Pays $664,000 for Parking Space

Extreme real estate conditions in Hong Kong have lead to the sale of a private parking spot for $664,000.  The parking spot, located in Upton, a residential high-rise, is 188 square feet, reports South China Morning Post, scmp.com. The buyer is a man named Kwan Wai-ming, who works as executive director of Huarong Investment stock Corp. This is Kan Wai-ming’s third parking spot in the building.

Lots of comparisons have been made as to what other kinds of property can be bought for that price: 1-bedroom apartments in New York; three-bedroom condos in Chicago, and so on. Other, more worthwhile, analysis examines how the buyer justifies this extravagance. Still other commentary addresses how real estate trends will affect people in the future. Prices for apartments in the building go for $40 to $70 million, reports architecturaldigest.com.

The soaring of property values has left many government officials concerned for the younger residents of Hong Kong, and if they will be able to afford living in their native land.

Those of us with regular amounts of money can’t imagine spending that amount on parking because 1. we don’t have the cash; and 2. not having cash makes that kind of expenditure seem outrageous, maybe even immoral, and wasteful. I can’t answer for anyone else, but I know that if I had billions to spend, $664,000 wouldn’t seem like a big deal. But I hope I’d still see it the way I do now: you can feed a lot of people with $664,000. I’m happy to be a guinea pig in research on the attitudes of the ultra-wealthy, however, if anybody feels like investing in a test of my self-righteousness.

Read the scmp.com article here.

Read the architecturaldigest.com article here.

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I Want to Drive my Own Car

John Van Horn’s got a lot to say about autonomous vehicles lately, and I’m going to take that as an invitation to explore the topic myself.

You never want to be an old fart when the subject of new technology comes up. We all know people who refuse to text, can’t work a smart phone and are afraid every key on their keyboard is a self-destruct button. I’m not an early adapter myself, but I try. When it comes to autonomous cars I’m still at the stage where I want nothing to do with them. I’d agree to be in the same room as one, but I don’t want to be on the road with any of them.

I’m not part of the parking industry as anything but a parker and a commentator, so I don’t have expert opinions on the progress of the autonomous vehicle or how it will change our world. I just have my own middle-aged views that cause me to mistrust machines.

Have you ever put the wrong kind of soap in your dishwasher? It’s a bubble festival. Have you ever loaded your washing machine wrong? Those things will take a trip across the room. Have you ever put hot liquids on a blender? Don’t do it – unless you want to be cleaning cream of mushroom soup off your ceiling for days.

Have you ever neglected your tires or run low on gas? Driven with shredded windshield wipers or ignored a warning light on your dash? I’m going to guess most of us do these things at one time or another.

Regardless of how well autonomous cars drive themselves, they will still be maintained by humans. I’d like to know how they are going to behave when humans make the mistakes they will inevitably make while programming them, servicing them and even sitting in them.

Not too long ago I read a book called Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon, by Craig Nelson. One of the things I remember most is that putting people on the moon was accomplished, in part, through the power of redundant systems. Without knowing if or how or when technical issues would arise, every system on Apollo 11 had multiple back ups.  The other thing I remember is that the book stated that current space flight would never be conducted at the same known rate of risk as early missions.

I might be reaching a bit, but the potential for loss of life on a busy highway is pretty high. It’s not space flight, but for the risks involved, it might as well be.

It has long been my policy to avoid new technology until it has been thoroughly tested by other consumers. That’s one reason I don’t own a fiery Galaxy note 7 – also, I prefer Apple products. I don’t buy a car that’s the first model year of a redesign; I don’t try a restaurant until it’s been open a couple of months; and I wait to buy things like hover boards until they’ve been out long enough to know which ones are best. Sounds selfish, but I call it self preservation.

The makers of autonomous cars will be addressing safety issues for a very long time after they’ve created the technology for a car that drives itself. The costs will be high and the risks will be higher. I want to embrace the idea of the car/chauffeur, but I’m not willing to be the guinea pig or the monkey riding in the backseat while the kinks get worked out.

Read more about autonomous cars here.


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Another “Urban Myth” Bites the Dust

We have all heard the harbingers of doom who predict the end of our industry as we know it. Why? Because millennials are all forsaking their lives in the burbs and moving to the big city. In doing so they aren’t buying cars (don’t need em, live near work) so they don’t need any place to park them. Yikes.

However my buddy Brandy in Las Vegas sent me an article in the New York Times that puts the lie to this myth. You can read it yourself here.

It seems that with the exception of about 10 urban areas, folks ARE NOT moving to the cities but to the contrary, are living in the burbs. Urban planners and prognosticators live in large cities and see anecdotal information so they start down the road of the self fulfilling prophesy. However, ask the post office who is getting all that mail, and they tell a different story.

The graphs in the article show that although New York, Chicago, and Seattle downtowns are becoming more dense, places like Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and Austin are not, and by quite a large margin. Folks in these cities and many more like them still need cars to get to work and yes, a place to park them.

When I least heard this myth it was being spread by a realtor in Chicago who said people and companies were abandoning those mid rise complexes around O’Hare and moving downtown.  So they could live work and play within walking distance.  The burbs were history.  And that was 10 years ago.

It may be true in Chicago, but it isn’t most everywhere else.

My sources tell me to ignore the doomsayers and believe the numbers. Might not be a bad idea.


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Should we Worry about “Self Driving Vehicles?” Not in your lifetime

The parking industry is in full crisis mode concerning “Autonomous Vehicles.”  OMG — they are going to destroy the industry  — no need to park them, they can zip by and pick you up and drop you off at work then go and pick someone else up, etc etc etc, cruising by tens of thousands of empty parking spaces.


To review this fallacy, one must first determine what an “autonomous” vehicle really is. In the above scenario, it is a vehicle that, like in the Jetsons (look it up youngsters), drives itself, has no steering wheel, and you sit in the back seat and read the paper — THERE IS NO DRIVER AND IT WILL NOT REQUIRE A DRIVER under any circumstances.

Cars that are designed to assist the driver, like having power steering, or cruise control, or even radar or proximity alarms, are different — If they require a driver, they are no different than UBER or Lyft today.

This is one of those situations where you have to know the answers before you ask the questions. Here are some answers:

  1. To drive at or near ‘freeway speeds’ all cars on the road must be “self driving, autonomous.”
  2. Driving in inclement weather is problematic.
  3. When Elon Musk says he will sell self driving cars in 2020, does he mean “Full on Jetson style” or something less?
  4. Do you know it took decades for safety features like anti lock breaks and electronic stability control to be in all vehicles, and these are the automotive equivalent of the wheel compared with full on autonomous vehicles.

Don’t believe any of these, and there are more, look them up. In future blogs I’ll give you a link for each on.

But you have to be clever. Articles about these and other autonomous features are self serving. The author or the company written about has a dog in the fight. If you persist, there will always be a disclaimer near the end something like:

Furthermore, will the vehicles be equipped with the technology that currently helps out human drivers? Anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control have served humans well, but some of necessary software may not yet be available for driverless cars as the tech is sometimes made by third-party suppliers. So, while self-driving car technology is getting better at handling snow, it’s clear that we are still a long way off. In other words, don’t expect a driverless car to drive you through a blizzard anytime soon. Link here.

Why am I concerned about all this — I’m in the message business. When we have headlines like “Autonomous Vehicles Means the End to Parking” or “Attend this seminar: Find out how Autonomous Vehicles may Mean An End to your Career” we are passing out the kool aid.  The message gets sent, the kool aid drunk, and full panic mode sets in.

In the upcoming months leading up to PIE, I will be publishing articles that I hope give a more even handed view of this “Autonomous Vehicle” dilemma.  Don’t put your retirement papers in yet.



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IPI is Taking the Big Easy by Storm

Kudos to the members and staff of the IPI.  The show this year is big, bold, and interesting.

I am most impressed with the amount of money the major parking manufacturing firms have invested in new booths, both in size and new representations.  You can get lost in some of the booths.  You need a GPS just to find your way around.

I am impressed too with the number of networking events  being held.  You can take tours of parking facilities in New Orleans or tour the spots that make the city famous (cemeteries, clubs and restaurants). PLUS the IPI has numerous in house events for networking.  Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.

All the best to Shawn, Bonnie and co.


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Stockton, Calif. Parking Meters Disappearing

In Stockton, Calif., almost 700 parking meters have gone missing in the last year. Recent video surveillance shows the thief rolling a stroller up to a meter and dismantling the meter head. He plops the meter head into the stroller and ambles away. Pictures of the theft are on nbcsandiego.com.

Motorists are confused and police are frustrated.

“We don’t understand why they’re down here because they’re not making that much money,” Stockton police Officer Joe Silva said.

I have to disagree with Officer Silva. Stockton police say almost 700 meters have been stolen and, according to the video, it takes the thief a few minutes to do his dirty work. Let’s say the stolen meters each have about $15 in change inside – and I’m estimating low – then the thief has made about $10,500 in the last year. Divide $10,500 by the amount of time he’s spent cutting the heads off parking meters – we’ll go with 5 minutes a piece – and that’s 3,500 minutes, or 58 hours. This guy is making $180 per hour stealing parking meters.

The risk he takes is high, but so is his profit. His overhead is a stroller and a few tools, which he’s possibly also stolen. He might have to give a percentage to Coinstar for counting his change, but it’s a small amount. No doubt his other job(s) involve taking things that aren’t his. I’m not saying $10,500 a year is enough to live the high life, but it’s a pretty good return on his time commitment, expenditures and effort.

I think it’s time to stop being shocked that these meters are being stolen and start making it harder to steal them.

Watch the video here.

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Women in Parking and Parking Today

Back in 2011 I had the honor of providing a room for the organizational meeting of Women in Parking. It was during the IPI show in Denver. My wife told me that I should simply supply the room, let them know where it was, and leave. That I did (with some assistance from a couple of those present). Since then the organization, under the watchful eye of Ruth Beaman, has grown and prospered.

Being a lazy sort and looking for others to do my work, I came up with the idea of having WIP, as its known, provide all the content for an edition of Parking Today. Colleen Niese provides the editing skills (and does a great job) and it becomes one of the best read and best written of our annual set of magazines.

This year is no different and the July issue will be focused on the women in our fine industry. I commend the advertising section to you vendors out there as we donate a percentage of the revenue to WIP. Jump on board and support this most worthy group.

Contact Marcy at marcy@parkingtoday.com. She will send you all the info.




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New Themes for No Parking

Just another reason to distrust millennials – they don’t want cars. Maybe they’re trying to be environmentally friendly and financially responsible, but I think it’s something else. I think it’s because they don’t want to grow up. According to thenewstribune.com, in Washington state, two apartment buildings currently under construction in Tacoma will not offer parking for residents.

One of the buildings is owned by Koz Development. Its 104 units will include apartments  from 250 to 400 square feet in size. Maybe it’s better for residents to own as little as possible – who knows if there will be room for car keys in an apartment that tiny.

One Tacoma community leader says the apartments will be attractive to millennials who are just starting their careers and don’t want to own a car. The apartments are near a train station, an Amtrak stop, a bus hub and a Link Light Rail station.

“We have always located our projects in transit-oriented neighborhoods and near amenities with the intent of supporting an affordable, car-free, minimalist lifestyle,” said Koz Development president and CEO Cathy Reines via email.

Eric Huseby is the city’s parking coordinator. He says residents with cars can rent spaces throughout the downtown area. After the apartments are finished and lived in, the city will study how parking is affected.

I find the stereotypical millennial to be annoying. It’s the passive, indifferent attitude they live by that gets on my nerves – mostly because I don’t see how any of them survive with such limited incentive. But they will survive, and their approach to life and the practical matters of adulthood will serve them as it alters our culture. Parking-free apartment buildings are a huge indication that the millennial mentality is having an impact.

Read the article here.

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Parking Today Media in NOLA

Three members of the PTMedia staff will be in New Orleans next week to celebrate parking with the IPI.  We will have a booth at the event (404) and look forward to seeing you.  Marcy, Astrid and I will be staffing the booth. We will have copies of my new book, “Death by Parking” plus full information about PT Media, the Parking Industry Exhibition and neat places to visit in NOLA.


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