About Doug Holmes, CAPP

Doug Holmes, CAPP, is interim director, Transportation, Penn State – Retired. He serves on the IPI Advisory Council, is Co-Chair of the Professional Certification/CAPP Committee, and a member of the Professional Development Task Force.

The ADA Parking Conversation

Doug Holmes

It started back in March when I noticed a string of messages on the CPARK-L e-discussion list about parking for those covered under Fotolia_49835773_Sthe Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The conversation first focused on “free” disabled parking, and then moved on to “tiered” disabled parking, before moving on to parking for disabled vets, ADA parking at special events, enforcement of ADA parking spaces including misuse of ADA tags/placards, and then most recently to special parking for pregnant women.

We frequently see articles or presentations about calculating the number of ADA spaces required, ADA space dimensions, or appropriate signage. Less frequently are discussions about the political fallout from creating, enforcing, placing, or relocating ADA spaces. There are so many facets to the issue that it continues to require considerable thought. After all, we are dealing with the well-being of our society.

There is no single law that covers ADA implementation. In addition to federal ADA statutes, there are building codes, state laws, and even institutional permutations that tell parking professionals how to provide reasonable access. One such issue concerns fees: ADA does not address fee structure per se. However, many cities do proscribe fees or the lack thereof. Additionally, in some cases, institutions such as hospitals or universities create their own application within the general framework of ADA. In short, it can be a very complicated matter to address adequately.

This coming Wednesday, August 21, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, IPI will host a look at some of these issues via a webinar you can attend from your desk. This is a panel presentation by former IPI Chair Linda Kauffman, former executive director of parking for the city of Allentown, Pa.; Teresa Trussel, director of transportation for Ohio University; and Bill Kavanagh, director of parking planning and design for the Harman Group.

I will be the moderator of the panel and I truly believe it will pose an interesting look at some ADA issues. I am also thoroughly convinced that it will stimulate even more questions and may lead to some of you to do some of your own research and help further the knowledge and capabilities of the parking profession.

Visit parking.org/webinars to register. Come join us for an hour!

 

Friendly, not…

Doug Holmes

A subscriber recently posted the following question to the CPARK-L list:

“Does anyone have a policy that allows students to park free during summer class time? I have a student that wants me to assist her in an English class assignment and proposal to do exactly that.”

Free Parking? That is one of the worst four-letter words in this or any language.  In fact, I think it was George Carlin’s eighth banned word, but he had to cut that routine down to 3:05 to make it onto a record.

The response from around 15 or so institutions was a resounding, “No!” Ann Szipszky of Seton Hall put it quite succinctly, “Oh dear, NO! Free parking for everyone would create a nightmare situation for us, not to mention the pleas in the fall, ‘But no one charged me in the summer,’ ‘I didn’t need a permit in the summer, why do I need one now?’ and then there is always, ‘No one told me I needed to buy a permit, I parked for free all summer.’ Free summer parking would be scary, very scary.”

Even if someone else is subsidizing “free” parking, it sets the parking office up for a bad beginning of fall semester. And what happens to the subsidizing agency or group when fall semester rolls around? Who has control over and responsibility for the bank?

No matter what time of the year, operating a parking lot (and all the attendant activities that go into that effort such as office staff, utilities, maintenance, enforcement, etc.) continue.  Would this student approach the council of academic deans to request a tuition waiver during the summer? After all, not all the classrooms are full over the summer and class sizes typically run smaller than in other semesters.

I was reminded of a favorite parking quote when I saw this post: “Parking should be friendly, not free.” This phrase was coined by Rina Cutler who ran several municipal parking systems, and who even created a bumper sticker with it–one of her stickers hung over my desk until the day I retired.

There are times when you may have to accommodate an event (a Presidential visit comes to mind) with free parking, but, in my humble opinion, “free” parking is the antithesis of good parking management.

Sorry, this just reminded me of the good old days prior to retirement.

Your Operation: What Would Ramsay Say?

Doug Holmes

Enjoying the fruits of retirement here in Canada, I am watching a show on the Beeb (that is, the BBC, not Justin Bieber) called “Kitchen Nightmares,” in which a failing restaurant calls in a famous British (more specifically, Scottish) chef to review, diagnose, and treat its dying business.

There are a bunch of these types of shows. Gordon Ramsay is not alone, although he may have been the first of his ilk. Bar Rescue, Ink Rescue, and a whole raft of others follow the same procedure.

What does food have to do with parking? Actually, not a whole heck of a lot on first consideration. But a consultant is a consultant, regardless of the discipline. In that regard, parking and food are intrinsically related.

This is like boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, etc. On T.V., invariably, Chef Ramsay quickly diagnoses the problems of the failing restaurant. Even when the owners don’t know or refuse to recognize the problems they have created, Ramsay immediately sees their issues and creates a path to success. Like the Dog Whisperer, the chef/consultant tries to fix the owners, not the dogs. The twist, which occurs with every restaurant, is that the owners begin to blame Ramsay for their problems.

O.K., you’ve waited for it. Now the parking analogy applies. How often have you blamed a parking consultant for problems your parking operation is facing, or flat-out rejected suggestions because the consultant “just doesn’t understand”? Did you try to define the issues prior to engaging the consultant? Is your assessment of institutional issues accurate? Have you provided the consultant with all of the information pertinent to the issues? Are you fighting the implementation of your recommendations of your consultant? Are you hearing comments like, “We’ve always done it that way” from your staff?

When you call in a consultant or ask for a peer review, you need to realize that the expert may not see the situation the way that you do. He or she may–and probably will–recommend some changes to the way you’re doing business.

Food for thought.