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How Goes the War? Reservations about Reserved Parking

I think every parking professional at some point has been part of or witness to the reserved parking wars. This is the silent war that Reserved parking shutterstock_615503takes place at parking facilities that offer reserved parking to a select few. Maybe parking has been reserved for some out of the need to make sure tenants have access to parking, or maybe it’s just an amenity for certain VIPs. Whatever the reason, it’s never long before someone bucks the system. One of the have-nots will throw that metaphorical rock through the window of the privileged by parking in that reserved space, and, as Bugs Bunny would say, “Of course you know, this means war!”

The disenfranchised reserved parker demands action from the parking office while the elusive violator uses guerilla tactics to continue the onslaught against the bourgeoisie. After a blitz of parking signage, orange cones, and violation tickets, a shell-shocked parking manager might ask him/herself, “What is it all for?”

Ordeals such as this can make a manager question the reserved parking concept altogether. Can we be sure it’s worth the headache? Each facility has its own unique clientele, and it’s up to the parking manager to determine whether or not a reserved parking program is even-handed or even needed at each facility. If it is, then order and peace are worth fighting for. Hunker down and hang in there, and if you can relate to this post, leave a comment and let us know: How goes the war?


About Frank L. Giles

Frank L. Giles is senior project manager at Lanier Parking Solutions and serves on the IPI Advisory Council, Conference Program Committee, and Safety/Security Committee.


  1. Thomas G. Braunwalder says:

    I enjoyed your article and I confirm witnessing this situation around the globe. You describe the cowardish behaviour of parking users who can’t get what they believe they are intitled too at all times. Have you ever met a hotel user throwing a stone at the reception desk when he learns that a room is reserved? What a possibly disappointed potential guest does not dare to do in presence of people, he will do so in anonymity. Space reservation solutions can be offered by many of the leading system manufacturers. The communication to the parking users is the responsibility of the operator who ideally explores communication solutions with manufacturer, consultant and possibly an communication expert. The initiative should come from the parking operator, in his interest.

  2. Janice Legace says:

    The best piece of advice I received when I first became a municipal parking manager was “Don’t do RESERVED parking. I’ve been heeding that great advice eversince.

  3. ParkingPrincess says:

    We’ve just added a campus-wide permit and the one person who bought it parked in an ADA space (to which they aren’t entitled). Their permit includes a space just for them in a particular garage and any open Facutly/Staff Reserved Space on campus at all times.

  4. Rick Onstott says:

    In public parking facilities that are open to a mix of transient and permit parking, and typically operate at or near capacity during the peak business hours/days, it is our experience that Reserved Spaces are a poor practice. The politics, the extra operating expense and the emotion just add more fuel to the fire.

    That said, in grossly underutilized facilities, I can see a place for Reserved Spaces provided one has a solid enforcement program and pricing that covers the extra expense that goes with such a program.

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