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About Kim Fernandez

Kim Fernandez is editor of The Parking Professional magazine.

Black Friday: Parking Myths and Realities


Are you ready for Black Friday parking traffic? Not so fast—a new research report says what we believe about traffic the day after Thanksgiving may not be based in fact.iStock_000030661198_Large

INRIX, a big-data technology company, released its Thanksgiving Travel Forecast yesterday, and it predicts a 63 percent Black Friday traffic increase at the country’s busiest malls. Travelers going to major airports today, the report says, should allow at least 50 extra minutes for traffic over and above a regular day. But that’s not all—the report says the belief that Black Friday shoppers hit the malls early turns out to be a myth.

In fact, America’s busiest shopping centers will see peak traffic (including in parking garages and lots) between noon and 3 p.m. Shoppers venturing to Palisades Center, West Nyack, N.Y., which the report identifies as one of the 11 busiest shopping centers in the U.S., should expect a 250 percent increase in travel time to and from the mall (a 46 percent increase over Black Friday 2014), and those patronizing The Galleria in Houston can expect a travel time increase of 110 percent.

Airports also experience interesting trends. The report says travelers to West Coast airports, including Los Angeles and Las Vegas, can expect the biggest traffic and parking spikes early—7 to 10 a.m.—while those on the East Coast will see the most traffic and biggest delays between 4 and 6 p.m.

Curious which U.S. cities see the most traffic the day before Thanksgiving? The report breaks that out, too:

  1. San Francisco
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Seattle
  4. San Diego
  5. Boston
  6. Portland, Ore.
  7. New York
  8. Hartford, Conn.
  9. Miami
  10. Chicago

Expecting a lot of parking traffic this holiday season? IPI has a news release that might help spread the word to your community about how to make it as easy as possible. Get the release here and distribute it in your area as-is or customize it. Read the complete INRIX release here. Remember, plan your route, pay attention to signs and traffic reports, breathe, and happy holidays!

Are You Ready?


It’s a drill we’re not unfamiliar with in the greater Washington, D.C. area: stock up on batteries, sweep outside drains clear, add a few bottles of water to the grocery cart, just in case. Yesterday, I did all of those things plus buy ingredients for meals that can be prepared on my gas stove, let our portable generator run for a few minutes, and take the pirate flag down from the kids’ treehouse. Tomorrow, the deck furniture and outside trash bins will go into the garage and I’ll send somebody out on a ladder to scoop any errant tree litter out of the gutters.

Photo credit: National Weather Service

Photo credit: National Weather Service

Hurricane’s a comin,’ at least the news says (repeatedly and at increasing volumes) and we’re already being drenched by an unrelated nor’easter. We in the nation’s capital swear the power goes out when someone sneezes too hard, so incoming apocalyptic storms send us into a bit of a frenzy. We remember the week of misery after Isabel and we watched the aftermaths of Sandy and Katrina on television.

The power company that serves much of the District and suburban Maryland has developed a sadly well-deserved reputation for being unprepared for storms like the one bearing down on us now. That’s too bad, because every one of these storms is a great opportunity for them to reverse the trend and show us they know what they’re doing: Call in reinforcements ahead of time, staff up, and ensure their phones and online systems are ready for greater-than-average volume.

Here’s my question for you: Are you ready for Joaquin or another big event? Have you downloaded IPI’s free Emergency Preparedness Manual and developed your own emergency plan? If not, there’s no time like the present. Few things infuriate communities more than unprepared services (ask Pepco), and this is a relatively easy fix.

If you don’t hear from me for a few days next week, it’s because Joaquin got us and the power’s out. We’ll be playing board games and reading books by lantern and probably annoyed, but OK. We’re prepared.

Customer Disservice: A True Tale


Once upon a time, there was an insurance company that courted a family for its business. “We’re guided by values,” the company said. “We’re grounded in outstanding service, financial expertise, high morals, and genuine concern for your well-being.” The family was charmed and the two enjoyed a lovely relationship for several generations.

After a long and happy life, one of the family members passed away and his descendants contacted the company, which offered its deepest condolences and immediately processed all of the accounts except one. A family member reached out about that last issue and spoke with a very nice gentleman, who sent forms that were filled out according to his direction and submitted … and returned to the family three weeks later for a technical mistake.

Now, this technical problem ran contrary to what the man on the phone had said and didn’t make a whole lot of sense, so a member of the family called again, was told the original form was the wrong one, and that a new form would come by mail. That form, sadly, never arrived, and so the family member called again.

And again.

And again.

Believe it or not, she called seven different times, spoke with seven different people, and got seven different answers as to what she should do about the policy-in-limbo; one of the answers was, “I don’t even know why they sent you to me—I don’t work in that department.” None of these answers had anything to do with a second form.

Finally, the family member lost her patience and called a higher-up at the company, who gave her yet another answer—this one involving jumping through several flaming hoops that no one else had mentioned. The family member voiced her frustration and suggested perhaps more training or a better manual was warranted in the service department, as eight different answers to eight different calls on one question seemed excessive.

“We don’t have a training problem,” huffed the director. So the family member shook her head, thanked the director for her time, hung up, and called back to speak with someone one step up the corporate ladder, who didn’t return calls for two days. That led to a call to someone just one rung beneath the very top of the company’s pyramid. That person was (finally) both authorized to take action on the initial problem (the ninth time being the charm, of course) and surprised her customer service people, through no fault of their own, couldn’t do their jobs. No one, she said, had ever reached out to tell her.

The moral of the story: Customer service training really matters. Are you sure yours is working?

Tuesday in Las Vegas: Learning, Networking, and Exploring


20150630_112913_resizedAnother exciting and productive day in Las Vegas yesterday, and there’s lots more to come today for the more than 3,000 parking professionals gathered at the Mandalay Bay for the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo.

Tuesday started with education sessions that filled rooms with participants eager to learn about finance, sustainability, technology, organizational improvement, building and construction management, and customer service from expert presenters.

The first General Session produced both laughter and tears with presentations of Professional Recognition awards, Lifetime Achievement awards, and Chair Award, which went to Alejandro “Alex” Jaramillo, with APD de Colombia, who was clearly surprised. His wife and children accompanied him to the Conference for the honor. Details on the other awards can be found in the July issue of The Parking Professional.

Futurist John Martin presented his Ten Transcendent Trends Reshaping the Future of Parking, offering data and research on the generational and other influences that will change the way parking professionals do their jobs.

The world’s largest parking Expo hall opened to huge crowds and lots of business on the floor, with a record number of exhibitors showing off new technology, business models, and products and services. Giveaways, balloons, games, and celebrations made the afternoon all the more exciting.

On tap for today are Awards of Excellence, Parking Matters Marketing & Communications Awards, Green Parking Council awards, keynoter Gordon Price, education and Ignite sessions, more time at the Expo and PowerPitch Forums, and a wide variety of facility tours. Wear your comfortable shoes!

Day Two: Things are in Full Swing in Las Vegas


If you’re in Las Vegas and your FitBit buzzed mid-morning, it probably wasn’t a mistake—Monday was a very busy day at the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo.

20150629_154936_resizedAfter months of preparation, the king big fish was crowned at Park Tank, a play on ABC Televison’s “Park Tank” that let parking-industry entrepreneurs pitch their greatest ideas to a panel of judges—our sharks:

  • Soumya Dey, director of research and technology transfer, Washington, D.C., Department of Transportation.
  • Tishaura Jones, treasurer, City of St. Louis.
  • Steven Nerayoff, CEO and founder, CloudParc.
  • Chris Thomas, founder and partner, Fontinalis

Living up to its television quasi-namesake, Park Tank was informative, interactive, and super fun! The grand prize winner was Smarking and the people’s choice winner was also Smarking. Look for more on this in the September issue of The Parking Professional.

20150629_162215_resizedOther highlights from Monday included the always-popular, industry-segment Shoptalks, which brought together professionals from airports, universities, municipalities, and other specialized parking operations for learning, ideas exchanges, and networking.

Yesterday also marked the first day of education sessions: six tracks of presentations plus fast-paced and interactive Ignite sessions that are always a hit with parking professionals. The evening was spent in old Las Vegas at the Mob Museum for the Opening Meet & Mingle event—always a crowd-pleaser and networking highlight—and a great night exploring the Fremont Street district and its restaurants and entertainment.

We hope you charged those activity trackers again last night because there’s much more on tap today. The world’s largest parking Expo opens at 11:45 a.m., immediately following the Opening General Session with keynoter John Martin, the Professional Recognition awards; Chair’s Awards; and Lifetime Achievement Awards. More education and networking follows. See you there!

Here We Go!


10369132_851318514943011_6870682700335420110_nWelcome to Las Vegas! It’s the first day of the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo and things are heating up at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. If you’re here, you’re in the great company of more than 3,000 parking professionals who will participate in education, networking, the world’s largest parking Expo, and general sessions and keynote events that will fuel their organizations and professional lives for the next year.

If you haven’t already, stop by the IPI Registration Desk in the North Convention Center for your badge, bag, and program guide. That and this year’s Conference app (search IPIConf on Apple’s App Store or the Google Play store) are your complete guide to everything IPI for the next few days. The app will also let you reference the week’s schedule right from your phone and is the only way to vote for your favorite Poster Session entries and rate education sessions, so you won’t want to be without it. The Program Guide is also available in electronic form for easier referencing.

Things kick off with the 5K Fun Run along the Las Vegas Strip at 6 a.m. Today’s highlights include Shoptalks at 1 p.m.; Education and Ignite Sessions that start at 2:15; IPI’s Park Tank at 3:30 (you won’t want to miss this one!); and the Opening Meet & Mingle at the Mob Museum.

Stop by the registration desk with any questions. Viva Las Vegas! Viva Parking!

Rare Compliments


About a year ago, I sent a complimentary email about someone to his boss, thinking she should know about the great job he was doing. Several hours later, she wrote back, “Thank you for your note. We don’t often hear from people with good things to say.”

Tell me that doesn’t break your heart just a little bit. Maybe you’re nodding in agreement with her. We’re (the editorial “we,” of course, not you and me specifically) very quick to file complaints, verbally or in writing, when someone slips up on the job, but those nice notes? They seem to get lost in our mental shuffles. So much to do; so little time.

A friend told me a few weeks ago, “We live on compliments,” and I think it’s pretty spot-on, especially in an industry such as parking where the complaints and insults can fly a lot more frequently than the niceties. We all like hearing we’re doing a good job and most people don’t hear it often enough.

It’s Friday, and where I am, the sun is shining and the day feels full of potential. I’m issuing myself a challenge and I hope you’ll challenge yourself and your colleagues with me: For every complaint (maybe every two or three; we’ll be reasonable), give someone a compliment. Say something nice. Tell someone they’re doing a great job, in our out of your department. Tell someone who works for you, the barista who foams up your latte, the guy or girl who rings up your next cart of groceries, or even your spouse, significant other, kid, or neighbor. And then give yourself a pat on the back, because you just did a great thing yourself.

If They Only Had a Pro


True story: My husband stopped me with a “Hey,” last night as I was walking out the door to meet a few friends at the movies. “Don’t park in that garage by the theater,” he said. “It’s creepy.”

The movie theater is part of a shopping mall that underwent a major facelift last year. It’s gorgeous—the formerly garish food court was draped in plush fabrics and matte grey finishes and soft lighting, hallways were outfitted with cushy couches and free Wi-Fi, and all the signage was updated in a branded (but not matchy-matchy) style that works beautifully.

Outside is a three-story parking garage that tries very hard to mimic the quiet softness of the new food court. But the gentle lighting and grey walls that are serene in the eating area have a different effect when I’m trying to park: I can’t see. Cars are parked over faint lines and in access aisles, and people stop in the middle of travel lanes to squint at what may or may not be a space. It’s a bit like driving through fog.

Granted, I’m not as young as what I’m sure was the target audience for the mall renovation, but if I can’t discern a parking space from a loading zone without getting out of my vehicle for a very close look, something’s not working.

Five years ago, I didn’t know what a parking professional was. Driving through this garage now, I find myself shaking my head and wondering why one wasn’t consulted, what they’re going to do about those inadvertently blocked access lanes, and how long it’ll be before someone gets hit or is the victim of a crime in the darkness.

A friend who recently drove me through the newly spiffed-up structure was equally unnerved by the garage, though she couldn’t quite put her fingers on what was wrong besides, “This is weird.” And a surface lot at the far end of the property that was always my double-top-secret parking savior during busy holiday seasons is suddenly very popular, even on a random Saturday.

I wonder when the mall owners will realize why people aren’t using the big garage and call in a parking professional to make it better. I’ll look forward to trying it again when it’s lighter, brighter, and easier to navigate. Until then, I’ll be one of the drivers parking on the outskirts of the property, happily walking farther to the doors, and thinking to myself that it’s true: Parking Matters®.

Future Thoughts


Scrolling through Todd Litman’s Facebook page is a little bit like watching the slideshow of a world traveler—he has been everywhere to talk about transportation and the future. Head of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Litman is a respected researcher and expert on transportation systems, growth, technology, and trends, and that includes parking.

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 11.02.04 PMParking, he says, is a critical piece to urban development and the success of cities, and the industry has a big role to play as technology and the ways we work, shop, and live change. He also has specific ideas on parking management and the role parking professionals should play in the greater planning and transportation realms, and he shares them all in the November issue of The Parking Professional. My favorite quote from our Q&A with him is, “Parking policy reforms can make major contributions toward creating more economically successful and livable communities, and many parking professionals are helping implement them. You should be proud!”

We’re all looking toward the future and the role the parking industry will play, and our November issue is chock-full of information to help you decide which direction to pursue and how to proceed. From a feature about the fledgling parking industry in Abu Dhabi to a fascinating look at how a parking census changed things for the better in San Francisco (do you know how many spaces exist in your city?), it’s an issue you’ll want to read and pass around in the office.

Know what else you should pass around? A camera—it’s last-call for The Parking Professional’s third annual photo contest and we can’t wait to see your parking photos! We have a streamlined entry process this year that’s super easy and you could win prizes ranging from Parking Matters® bling to a full registration to the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo, June 29 – July 2 in Las Vegas. Check out our categories, rules, and entry forms here, and send me your best shots!

I hope you enjoy our November issue!

The Rebel Goes Sustainable: Harley-Davidson Unveils Electric Bike


Sustainability, meet James Dean. Believe it or not, Harley-Davidson just unveiled its first electric bike. And from all appearances, it is sweet.

Photo credit: Harley-Davidson


I was the girl swooning over the flat-black Harley parked just inside the entrance of the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo earlier this month. There’s a four-wheel-drive familymobile parked in my driveway for now, but my inner daredevil has always loved open air and speed. Roller coasters, Waverunners, two-seater airplanes–bring it. My husband pulling a 200cc Vespa into our garage two years ago was more than I could stand, and a few months, one class, 10 hours on a Honda Rebel in brutal D.C. heat and humidity, and one test later, I happily stood in line at the MVA to add an M-class endorsement to my driver’s license (earning, I might add, serious cool-mom points for a little while).

Honda and BMW make some gorgeous, very refined bikes, but Harley has remained the gold standard of American two-wheeled muscle. An electric motorcycle with their badge was sure to raise eyebrows, and it has–everybody from car gurus to tech wizards is talking about it.

Harley officials say Project LiveWire is a “customer-led moment” in its history. In other words, even their customers want to go a little greener. But make no mistake–this bike is edgy, launching with a 30-dealership tour along Route 66 and promising “a visceral riding experience with tire-shredding acceleration and an unmistakeable new sound” officials compare to a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. The Los Angeles Times, which tested the bike ahead of its launch this week, called it a “fired up, amped-up monster.” Their test saw it go from zero to 60 in less than four seconds before it topped out at 92 mph. Not too shabby for an EV. The flip side, of course, is range: newspaper testers said it’ll go about 30 miles on a single charge (three and a half hours) in high-performance mode, and about 53 miles in power-saving mode. Harley says that range will improve before the LiveWire goes on sale to consumers in about two years.

Will it attract traditional Harley riders? Only time will tell. But is it a smart move for Harley-Davidson given the wishes of the next driving generation? Absolutely. Looks like we’ll need charging stations for flashy, crazy-fast, rebel bikes before too long. Who saw that coming? (And how do I get on the test-drive list?)

Parking Centers in Texas


The second day of the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo saw thousands of parking professionals converge on the Gaylord Texan Resort for the opening of the biggest parking expo in the world, keynote addresses, an awards presentation, and a full schedule of education sessions and events.

The day kicked off with the presentation of this year’s Professional Recognition Program awards, which recognize the industry’s top individual professionals and programs. As always, it was a rousing and touching ceremony–this year’s included a farewell to IPI Board member Mike Swartz, who is retiring after 17 years on the board.
Next up were introductions of the Green Garage Certification Program, which has already become the “LEED of parking,” and proved quite popular in the industry, and a keynote address about changes being considered to the U.S. coin supply. Finally was an energetic and informational keynote from Marina Leight of Governing magazine about interconnectedness and the future of cities.
Following the morning presentation was the ribbon cutting and official opening of this year’s Expo, with 230 exhibitors and four football fields’ worth of show space. Aisles were crowded with suppliers and attendees, and the crowds repeated for a reception on the floor last night.
Education sessions, including the popular Ignite sessions, were also popular, with several having standing room only–it’s a great year to become a better educated parking professional. Look for a complete IPI Conference & Expo wrap-up in the August issue of The Parking Professional.
On today’s agenda are IPI’s Awards of Excellence and a keynote address, “Auto Erotica: Rear View and Road Ahead,” another chance to visit the Expo, and more education sessions and networking. See you at the conference!

IPI Conference & Expo Kicks Off

With formal and social gatherings of parking professionals from around the world, a municipal symposium, popular education sessions, and a little jeans and bling, the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo kicked off in grand style at the Gaylord Texan Resort.
First on yesterday’s agenda was a meeting of GPALS–the Global Parking Association Leaders Summit–where representatives of nearly a dozen parking associations from all over the globe pulled chairs up to the table to talk about trends in their countries, parking research, sustainability, promoting the industry, and the best ways to share information.
Following that was the first Municipal Symposium: Real Solutions for Real Cities. Speakers, including Bill Wolpin, American City & County magazine; Marina Leight, Governing magazine; Laurens Eckelboom, Parkmobile; David Cummins, Xerox State & Local Solutions; and a panel of municipal parking directors and experts shared their expertise and experiences in a lively discussion with multiple takeaways participants can take home and put to work. Also here was the release of a joint survey of government officials from cities, towns, and counties across the U.S. about municipal parking–download it here.
The first day of education sessions proved popular as attendees flocked to the tracked seminars and panel discussions. And last

Representatives of nearly a dozen parking associations from around the globe gathered at yesterday's GPALS meeting.

Representatives of nearly a dozen parking associations from around the globe gathered at yesterday’s GPALS meeting.

night’s Denim and Diamonds Meet and Mingle event at the Glass Cactus nightclub saw attendees boot scootin’ on the dance floor and enjoying the company of new and old friends from all over the world.

Today promises to bring even more excitement, with the Welcome Breakfast, Professional Recognition Awards, and double-header keynote, opening of the massive Expo hall, and another afternoon of education sessions. It’s a great day for parking to be in Texas!

Bridges, Gridlock, and Parking


I lived in Maryland and worked in Virginia in 1998, which meant I crossed the Woodrow Wilson Bridge over the Potomac River twice a Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 10.53.17 AMday. Thanks to a progressive manager who embraced flextime even then, I was normally in the office by 7 a.m. and on my way home by 3:30 p.m. Sounds great, right? It was, until the afternoon a jumper perched on the bridge and shut it down for more than five hours, effectively–and quite unexpectedly–plunging the entire Washington, D.C. metro area into gridlock. My 25-minute commute stretched to an utterly miserable three and a half hours.

Thanks to that, I have a lot of empathy for the people in Fort Lee, N.J., who move about at what must feel like the whim of the George Washington Bridge into New York City. Even when those at the state house may or may not be mucking around with traffic there, it affects everyone who lives in town.

Guess who went proactive to get their people moving again? If you said the parking professionals in Fort Lee, you’re absolutely correct, and their system of shuttles and policies has eased traffic in and around town and boosted community spirit, making life that much easier for those they serve. Their story offers a great example of how parking departments offer much more than spaces, and it’s in the January issue of The Parking Professional.

Also in this month’s issue you’ll find a great story on how airport professionals are dealing with entirely new challenges (think food trucks vs. security and Uber vs. traditional cabs); all the new technology airports can use to their advantage; a piece on a fabulous piece of garage art in Australia that’s got everyone there talking; and how garage repairs and marketing to the community can make a big difference. And, of course, you’ll see the winners of this year’s photo contest–say cheese!

The D.C. region survived our friend on the bridge, by the way, as did he–the police eventually shot him in the leg with a beanbag, he jumped into the water and emerged unhurt, and is probably still in hiding from the wrath of thousands of commuters. My guess is that a certain deputy chief of staff in New Jersey will enjoy the same fate.

I hope you enjoy the issue–comment here or drop me a note and let me know what you think.


Did You Get Snapping Yet?

Kim Fernandez

The good news is that thanks to fantastic advances in cell phone technology, most of us carry a pretty impressive camera around with

“Meter All Alone,” by Felix Riverea, City of Tampa Parking Division, won in the funniest category in 2012.

“Meter All Alone,” by Felix Riverea, City of Tampa Parking Division, won in the funniest category in 2012.

us all day long. The better news is that this means it’s really easy to snap the perfect photo for The Parking Professional’s Second Annual Photo Contest and win yourself a free registration to the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo in Dallas or one of several gift certificates to (free parking swag!).

The bad news? You only have one more week to enter, so you need to get snapping!

Entering the contest is easy. Visit to upload your photos in one or more categories:

  • Best overall/Best in Show
  • Beautiful
  • Funny
  • People in Parking
  • Structure/Lot
  • Nature
  • Most Offbeat or Unusual

Fill out the online form, and you’re done! Our team of judges can’t wait to see your best shots. Amateur photographers only, please.

Whip out that smartphone or grab your real camera and show us your best shots around the office, the lot or garage, the street, or your town–anything parking-related goes! Need a little inspiration? Check out last year’s winners here. But don’t wait–the contest ends Oct. 31.

I can’t wait to see your photos!

IPI Shows off Park(ing) Day Spirit

Kim Fernandez

A great time was had by all. It’s a cliche, but an appropriate way to describe IPI’s first official foray into Park(ing) Day last Friday, 100_1314when parking spots all around the world were transformed into temporary parks, cafes, libraries, and public spaces (see the August issue of The Parking Professional for more).

A spirited group of IPI staff members joined the design pros at BonoTom Studio (the folks who make The Parking Professional look so good) for lunch in a parklet on Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va. Lining a space with faux grass (after paying the meter, of course) and decorating with everything from garden chairs to fanciful gnomes, we invited passers by to kick back in the sun, enjoy a cookie, and talk about parking. For their part, visitors told us about other Park(ing) Day installations they’d passed during the day and even wished us a happy Park(ing) Day as they drove past.

100_1302We had a great time participating in this event, and would love to hear about your festivities. Comment below, or send your story and a photo or two of your parklet to–we’ll publish them in a future issue of the magazine (also think about entering your Park(ing) Day photos in our contest–visit for information).

See you on the street next year!

Parking Packs Off the Purple

Kim Fernandez

Crabcakes and football. That’s what Maryland does.202938488_ec04ba0712_o

If you set aside lacrosse and Berger Cookies, the line from “Wedding Crashers” almost got it right. True Baltimoreans generally prefer picking our own steamed crabs (malt vinegar, Old Bay, amen) over eating somebody else’s handiwork in a cake, of course, but one takes what one can get when Hollywood takes over. Our world champion Ravens reign, and it’s a purplewashed place to be. Next week, though, we’ll suffer the injustice of watching our team open the NFL season from afar, and it’s all because of parking.

Football is a bit akin to religion in parts of our fair state–Robert Irsay’s 1984 run out of town only solidified our faith–and we threw our Ravens and their Lombardi Trophy a heck of a party earlier this year. We also take Purple Fridays pretty darned seriously, donning the royal color for work and play on the last day of the work week most of the year. So why are we resigned to watching next week’s kickoff on our TVs at home?

Parking. See, when Baltimore retired the edge-of-the-city Memorial Stadium, which the Orioles and Colts shared for years, to build the decidedly downtown M&T Bank Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, it made sense to put them next to each other with a giant parking lot in between. They sit just blocks from the city’s Inner Harbor and the main business and tourism district, and there aren’t a lot of spaces to spare on game days. And because the outcome of the 2013 Super Bowl wasn’t known until February, Major League Baseball unwittingly scheduled the Orioles to play at home the night of Sept. 5–the same night, as it turned out, our Ravens will kick off the NFL season.

Two sports, two stadiums full of fans, one parking lot. No go. The Orioles held their ground and refused to move or reschedule their game, the scales tipped, and the Ravens were sent to Denver for their opener, leaving many football fans more than a little irritated (I haven’t watched or tracked an Orioles game all season, but I digress).

I’ll be wearing my purple and yelling at the TV instead of tailgating on Thursday, along with thousands of my fellow Marylanders. If you ask us that day, I guarantee everyone will agree: Parking Matters®.


Park(ing) Goes Trendy

Kim Fernandez

Do you have a 2014 IKEA catalog on your kitchen counter (or in your recycling bin)? Does the photo on p. 30 look familiar? If it does image001-1(it’s the one you see in this post), you’re probably familiar with Park(ing) Day, which is a worldwide event that encourages the temporary transformation of parking spaces into gathering places.

IKEA took it one step farther, posting this video illustrating their parking space transformation on their website. And as you probably know, Park(ing) Day and the parklet concept (turning parking spaces into gathering places on a more permanent basis) have caught the eye of the mainstream media and the public.

It’s also been embraced by parking professionals, who see it as a great public relations activity and way to reach out to their customers via something more positive than gate tickets and citations. For one day a year, they allow community residents and business owners to take over parking spaces, either by feeding the meter as they would to park or by applying for special permits, to construct everything from small parks to cafes to mini-golf courses to art exhibitions, all in the name of social interaction in the downtown area.

Park(ing) Day 2013 will happen on Sept. 20, and organizers say they expect record numbers of cities, towns, campuses, and community organizations to participate. Whether you like the idea or not, are you ready? You can read more about it in the August issue of The Parking Professional, which offers the perspective of parking professionals in several cities that have embraced it as a celebration, along with other thoughts from those on our Ask the Experts panel. And you can see it in this year’s IKEA catalog and on their website, which strikes me as something of a milestone: the parking spot as trendy attribute.

What do you think about Park(ing) Day? Will you participate this year (visit to register)? Let us know in the comments.


Game Changers


Another busy day at the IPI Conference & Expo gave attendees a glimpse into the future of parking, an afternoon of business on the _EST1799Expo floor, educational sessions, and plenty of opportunity to network, network, network.

The morning kicked off with the 2013 IPI Awards of Excellence presentation, where outstanding parking facilities and operations were honored and applauded (see more on this in the June issue of The Parking Professional, arriving in your mailbox soon). This year’s awardees included garages that showcase innovative design, out-of-the-box thinking, and sustainable solutions that make sense, along with operations that have overcome tremendous challenges to serve their communities and keep people moving.

The room went silent after that as attendees were held rapt by Mary Smith of Walker Parking Consultants, a top expert on parking and transportation, who talked about “Game Changers.”

“Parking has changed more in the past 10 years than in my previous 28 in the industry,” she said, attributing that to changing trends in car ownership rates, growing cities, and other factors. She pointed out reasons why parking is not, as some believe, the root of urban sprawl issues, and said that while efforts to change the perception of parking through alternate uses can be good, they’re not always executed in the wisest fashion.

_EST1882Downtown garages that lease their spaces out for weddings and other events, she said, are “touted as great shared use, but it’s not appropriate to take spaces out of use for parking when they’re needed most.” Instead, uses such as farm markets during the day (when spaces aren’t in as much demand by restaurants and other businesses, can be a better use.

Smith spent some time talking about “peak cars,” which is a peak in vehicle ownership forecast to happen in the next several years, as millennial generation members (born after 1980) eschew individual car ownership in favor of car share programs and public transportation. She also talked about the next generations of technology for cars, including compressed natural gas (CNG) and driverless cars, including some that may fly.

Following her presentation, attendees enjoyed an afternoon networking and exploring new products, services, and technologies on the Expo hall floor, attending educational sessions in five tracks, and exchanging business cards, handshakes, and conversation in the halls of the convention center.

The IPI Conference & Expo wraps up today with the final Expo hours, a lunchtime presentation by marketing expert Bill Smith, and the closing event that’s sure to be fast-paced and thrilling!


IPI Conference & Expo Kicks Off

Kim Fernandez

Record numbers of parking professionals have made the most of their time at the IPI Conference & Expo in Fort Lauderdale, _EST1388
Florida, taking in educational sessions, doing business on the Expo hall floor, and having fun with friends around town.

Day one kicked off Sunday with the first round of education–sessions are organized into five distinct tracks–and the opening event at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Science and Discovery, where attendees mingled among fascinating and fun interactive exhibits. Also popular was the first Poster Session on the third floor of the convention center, where exhibits on parking projects and innovations offered information in a new format–this continues throughout the conference just outside the education session rooms.

Yesterday started with a touching awards ceremony that honored top professionals in the IPI Professional Recognition Program. A highlight was the presentation of the newly-named James M. Hunnicutt, CAPP, Parking Professional of the Year award by two of the late association founder’s daughters to Roamy Valera, CAPP. (see the July issue of The Parking Professional for more–coming soon!).

_EST0991Following awards, speaker Scott Brusaw took the stage to talk about his Solar Roadways project, which has the potential to replace asphalt and concrete on parking lots, sidewalks, and roads with LED-equipped solar panels, generating power for businesses and communities, electric vehicle charging, and variable lighting that can be configured for lines, messages, and even instant warnings that something’s on the surface up ahead (read The Parking Professional’s cover story on Solar Roadways here). Able to melt snow and ice before they have a chance to accumulate on roads or parking lots, Solar Roadways has attracted the attention of government agencies, large companies, and parking professionals.

The concept was clearly popular with attendees, many of whom visited with Brusaw and his wife and co-inventor, Julie, at the Expo, where a piece of solar road sparked a lot of conversation.

More excitement awaits today, with a presentation by Mary Smith, Walker Parking Consultants, about the future of parking, the 2013 IPI Awards of Excellence, education sessions that include IPI’s first IGNITE session–five minutes and 20 slides for each energizing speaker–and more Expo hours and PowerPitch forums on the floor. It’s going to be a great day in Florida!


Super Bowl, Super Parking

Kim Fernandez

Curious about how people park for Super Bowl? We were, and turned to our friends at ParkWhiz, which helps ticketholders reserve parking for the big game, for a little insight.

According to ParkWhiz Senior Vice President, Sales, Dean Bravos:

  • The average price for a 2013 Super Bowl parking space is $135. That’s up from last year’s average price of $118.
  • Tailgaters can expect to pay $108 to $375 for reserved party spots.
  • The most expensive multi-day space the company sold this year was a multi-day RV spot, which went for $1,875. The average RV tailgating space sold for $815, and an all-week space went for a whopping $3,000.
  • Farther away is cheaper. Drivers who were willing to hoof it from 1.07 miles away for the game could reserve spots for just $38.50. And the least expensive parking space this year cost $29.

Bravos says that while the idea of reserved parking is a big hit with football fans, they don’t always think ahead, and his company stays busy selling spots all the way to kickoff.

For more about what Bravos and his company do to plan for Super Bowl Sunday (including security issues), check out this video by NBC News, or this video on an ABC affiliate in Louisiana.

Parking Leaders Kickstart the New Year

Kim Fernandez

The New Year’s resolution: the highlight of the holiday season or the bane of one’s existence. It can go either way. Anyone can make a January 2013 Parking Professional Coverresolution that says we’re going to drop 10 pounds or spend less time on the smartphone or read a book a week or do more yardwork, and lots of us swear that starting January 1, we’re going to work harder, treat our bodies better, and emerge 12 months later better and more successful in some way.

The real question, of course, is how you get from point A to point B. How do you lose that weight? How do you cut back on the email without sacrificing career goals? How, exactly, do you make yourself better/smarter/stronger with the same 24 hours a day you’ve always had?

Businesses are no different; nor is the parking industry. We want to be better at what we do, more efficient, more sustainable, and more successful than ever before despite financial, regulatory, and political roadblocks.


Those are the questions we posed to some of the industry’s top experts in the January issue of The Parking Professional. And they answered, giving their honest evaluations of the industry as it stands and concrete advice for 2013 and beyond. Our industry leaders’ interview is a great starting point for anyone who wants to improve their department or their career this year (who doesn’t?), and we hope you find it useful.

Also in this month’s issue are the winners of our first photography contest (how often do you see a dancer on the cover of a parking magazine?), our Social Media 101 guide for parking professionals, and features on managers as coaches and cheerleaders, turning lemons into lemonade and engaging the entire community in the process, and on airport landside employees’ number-one secret weapon for dealing with difficult customers.

We hope you enjoy this month’s issue!

Thanksgiving Tale-gate: “America’s Parking Lot” Now Available at Home

Kim Fernandez

You may remember Cy Ditmore–he’s one of the stars of “America’s Parking Lot,” the independent film about the infamous Dallas Cowboys Gate 6 Tailgaters. You met him back in September when the movie was featured in The Parking Professional (it was, incidentally, one of our most popular features to date judging by reader feedback).

Film director Jonny Mars let us know that the movie is available on both iTunes and video-on-demand as of yesterday (check your cable provider’s listing). Beyond what you might expect from a movie about tailgating, it tells a terrific tale and offers a terrific look at the families and neighborhoods that were formed in a stadium parking lot–Parking Matters®. And it’s the perfect companion for today’s Cowboys vs. Redskins game and tummy full of tryptophan,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last Week to Enter The Parking Professional Photo Contest

Kim Fernandez

You know how the holidays sneak up on us every year? Same with tax day–we think we’re prepared and ready, and then wham! It’s here, and we end up panicking to get everything done before the big day ends.

Consider this your seven-day warning: The Parking Professional’s first photo contest ends exactly one week from today, and you have a little more than 168 long hours to get your entry in. We’ve received a lot of fantastic entries, but we still want to see yours!

Need a little motivation? How about a free registration to the IPI Conference & Expo in beautiful Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., next May? That’s what our Best in Show winner will receive, along with having his or her photo featured on the cover of an upcoming issue of The Parking Professional. You could also spice up your wardrobe with a stylish Parking Matters® shirt or see your photo published in the magazine if you take top honors in our six main categories of pictures:

  • Beautiful
  • Funny
  • People in Parking
  • Structure/Lot
  • Nature
  • Most Offbeat or Unusual

All you need to do is take a parking-related digital photo and visit to upload it into the contest. That’s it! Easy-peasy, but you only have one more week to join in the fun.

Hit us with your best shot! I can’t wait to see all of your entries!


America’s Parking Lot

Kim Fernandez

My dad took me to my first football tailgate when I was 12 or 13 years old. It was a University of Maryland vs. Clemson game, and while I don’t remember who won, the party in the parking lot is clearly etched in my brain.

Filmmaker Jonny Mars went to his first pro football tailgate party as an adult, five years ago, after betting a friend that watching a Dallas Cowboys game at home was a better experience than going to a game in person. He figured there would be food and beer and lots of yelling, but what he didn’t expect to find was a community there among the pickup trucks and tents and trailers. And he certainly never thought his life would be flipped upside-down outside Cowboys Stadium, but that’s exactly what happened.

Mars spent the next four years making a movie called “America’s Parking Lot,” about the Gate 6 Tailgaters in Dallas–possibly the most rabid group of fans the Cowboys enjoy–and how they were nearly torn apart when the team moved to a new stadium, a new ticket pricing structure, and a new parking lot. He and I started talking several months ago, and even having spent much of my work time immersed in parking for more than a year, his film and those fans’ story kind of blew me away.

In the September issue of The Parking Professional, you’ll meet tailgate ringleader Cy Ditmore, who’s featured in the film, and hear his thoughts on football and tailgates and parking. He talks about the family he gained when he started hanging out on the asphalt before football games, and he means it quite literally; the men and women he parties with have become as dear to his heart as his own blood relatives.

The movie is scheduled to appear on most cable systems’ video on demand menus starting November 22, sharing the importance of that parking lot with much of America. I hope you’ll spend some time with our story, get to know Jonny and Cy a little bit, and then make a date with your television to watch the film.

It’s much more than a party out there. It’s a neighborhood, and shows why, in a very grassroots sense, Parking Matters®.

IPI Conference & Expo Out with a Bang

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A live rodeo in an outdoor arena, complete with performances by good-natured parking professionals, authentic Tex-Mex dinner, and spectacular fireworks display closed out the 2012 IPI Conference & Expo in Phoenix with fun and friends.

IPI Chair Casey Jones kicked things off with an appearance on horseback in the middle of the ring at the Corona Ranch, before some unsuspecting Conference attendees were called out to wrangle calves, milk goats, and have some good old-fashioned Phoenix fun before their friends in the audience.

After a dinner together, attendees were invited outside for a surprise fireworks display that was met with much applause, before bidding goodnight with promises to meet again in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., May 19-22 for next year’s Conference & Expo.

Before all of that, it was another productive day at the Phoenix Convention Center…

Summit Explores How TDM Compliments Parking

A crowd gathered at the IPI Conference & Expo Wednesday morning to learn how parking professionals can integrate transportation demand management (TDM) strategies into their programs to help achieve mobility goals, during the Summit on TDM: Transportation Tools to Support Parking Program Effectiveness.

The one-day symposium, co-sponsored by IPI and the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT), provided participants with a lot of practical, actionable information and case studies. The event was co-chaired by ACT president Brian Shaw, director of business services at The University of Pennsylvania, and Josh Kavanagh, director of transportation at the University of Washington.

In “Show Me the Money: The Business Case for TDM,” UrbanTrans North America president Joddie Gray, AICP, shared vital tips on transportation program funding. She noted that it’s important to create a strategic business plan, based on a clear picture of future transportation demand and desired transportation system performance.

Brian Shaw took to the podium to deliver “Setting the Stage: How Public Policy Can Create a Favorable Environment for Your TDM program.” Shaw explained how transportation programs are funded and how parking operations can be at the table to get their share of federal and other public resources.

Other speakers addressed “Getting What You’re Paying For: Metrics for TDM Programs,” “Building Your Operating Plan: Picking the Right Tools for the Job,” and other topics. The Summit’s afternoon panel discussions gathered the collective expertise of several speakers to field questions and provide guidance on implementing a variety of TDM strategies, in “An Operating Manual for Your TDM Tools.”

Media Crash Course: Speaking Parking Matters®

Wednesday’s general session brought Nick Calderone, owner of Reel Stories, and Phoenix CBS 5 News Anchor Sean McLaughlin to the General Session stage for a robust discussion on talking with the media.

“Nobody knows the information better than you,” said Calderone. “You’re in control.” He encouraged participants to remember going into a media interview that the reporter sought them out for their specific knowledge–”You are the smartest person in the room.”

The two presented their “Bes and Don’ts” for media interviews, encouraging parking professionals to be prepared, honest, passionate, expressive, accurate, and calm. “Everybody can tell if you’re not telling the truth,” said McLaughin. When faced with a reporter, they said, don’t lie, mislead, be evasive or defensive, speculate, or deny. And no matter what, don’t say “no comment.”

“Get that out of your brain,” said Calderone.

We Have Winners!

The last day of the IPI Expo meant lots of excitement on the floor as raffles were conducted and prizes were given away. Cheryl Woodward and Debra Wooden each won $500 in IPI’s Expo-Opoly game. After that, it was time to announce the year’s Best in Show exhibitor booths. Winners are:

  • Best in Show, 100-300 square feet
    •    First place: Eco Lights
    •    Second Place: Garage Juice Bar
    •    Third Place: Streetline
  • Best in Show, 400-600 square feet: Magnetic Autocontrol
  • Best in Show, 800-1200 square feet: Amano Mcgann
  • Best in Show, People’s Choice: Magnetic Autocontrol


Media Coverage

The IPI Conference & Expo generated lots of press coverage, as reporters and cameras descended on the show floor to see all the latest in parking technology, products, services, and trends. A few highlights:

  • KPNX-TV the NBC affiliate in Phoenix featured a live morning interview with Casey Jones and reporter Jaclyn Schultz, complete with a smart parking meter and sensing device to show.
  • KNXV-TV the ABC affiliate in Phoenix featured an interview with IPI Chair Casey Jones.
  • KPHO –TV the CBS affiliate in Phoenix sent anchor Sean McLaughlin for a report for the 10 oclock news, but had so much fun he couldn’t tear himself away and stayed for more than an hour.
  • Sean Holstege, reporter for the Arizona Republic newspaper, toured the floor with Casey Jones and Immediate Past Chair Cindy Campbell, asking in-depth and probing questions about all the new technology.
  • Cindy Campbell was interviewed for Phoenix news radio station KTAR.
  • Casey Jones will be the guest on the radio program Business for Breakfast on MoneyRadio 1510.
  • Finally, the New York Times sent a videographer to the Expo.