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Choice or Convenience?

Christina Onesirosan Martinez

A friend of mine from the U.K. parking fraternity was recently asked to create a presentation on the topic of “Parking: A Matter of Choice or Convenience?Among the areas he would be looking at was why, given a choice, would anyone actively choose to park in your car park? He called me as he knew that I regularly looked through our survey responses/customer feedback and perhaps I might be able supply some useful anecdotes and sound bites.

So I embarked on my fact-finding mission and began to dig deep into our parking data … luckily for me, he only needed U.K. stats! What I found surprised me.

When it comes to parking, the most commonly asked question is about how much it will cost, with an overwhelming 80 percent of all motorists using our site requesting this information when booking a parking space.

The next most frequently asked question when booking a parking spot is, perhaps unsurprisingly, about the exact address and zipcode, with 70 percent of motorists wanting this information to enter into navigating devices.

My research also revealed the top 10 most requested cities when it comes to motorists looking for somewhere to park, and perhaps rather surprisingly, it’s not the capital (London) in first place! The North of the U.K. leads the top of the chart with Leeds as the most popular request, followed closely by York, with Birmingham, Manchester and Brighton rounding out the top five. In fact, London ranked sixth for most requested cities!

Top 10 Parking Requests, 2014-2015

  1. Price.
  2. Zipcode.
  3. Opening hours.
  4. Height restrictions.
  5. Safety info ( e.g. does it have CCTV, is it secure etc).
  6. Toilets.
  7. Handicapped parking info.
  8. Parent and child spaces.
  9. Motorcycle spaces.
  10. Payment info (coins, credit cards, pay by mobile).

On a lighter note, I also stumbled across the following data:

  • One-third of U.K. drivers forget where their cars were parked. And it appears to be a battle of the sexes: 24 percent of men and 32 percent of women admit to not knowing where their cars were left.
  • Motorists living in Wales may have some of the best driving roads around but have the worst luck remembering where they’ve left their cars—nearly 40 percent say they had trouble finding their cars in a car park.
  • On the opposite end of the spectrum, motorists in London reported the least trouble, with only 18 percent having forgotten where they left their cars.
  • When it comes to age, motorists age 55-64 were most likely to forget where they had parked, their car followed by 18-24 year-olds.

I wonder how the Brits compare to the other parkers around the world.


Valet: Just Do It!

Frank L. Giles

I recently had a chance to work a full shift as a valet. I don’t mean manage the operation or supervise a valet team—I mean park and pull cars for customers Sport shoes isolated on whitebefore making that mad dash back to the station. Gettin’ back to maroots! Needless to say, the experience was both exhilarating and exhausting. I thought I was out of shape before, but now I know.

What I gained from the experience other than some sore muscles was a healthy respect for the athletic component of valet. I even think they should have their own shoe. Imagine for a second, an inconspicuous all-black running shoe complete with arch support and traction. It could simply be called “The Valet.” I would buy a pair. I fact, it might be a good way to insure complete uniformity of the operation.

So how about it Nike or Reebok, why not take advantage of this untapped market of parking athletes? Just be sure to send me my cut.

Singing a Different Tune

Shawn Conrad

I learn a tremendous amount when I sit in on sessions at parking conferences. So many great initiatives shed a light on the value parking brings to municipalities, universities, airports, and medical centers. Sessions about on-street parking as a mobility management tool in Barcelona or digitalization of parking enforcement in Amsterdam are just a few I’ve had the pleasure of attending recently. Closer to home, I heard presentations on parking improvements in Boulder, Colo,; Pittsburgh; and Missoula, Mont.

One speaker I recently heard discussed:

  • The Parking Ticket.
  • Parking Lot.
  • Le Parking Des Anges.
  • Strip Mall Parking Lots.
  • Parking Hug.
  • Party in the Parking Lot.
  • And my favorite, Central Parking Blues

If you haven’t guessed, these are just a few of the 59 titles Spotify identifies as “parking” songs. Evidently, this speaker and others are trying to find all the recorded songs about parking. While 59 seems like a lot, I was challenged to see if there were more.

My guess is that a number of IPI blog readers have created lists of parking songs of their own. Does anyone have more than 59 titles on their playlist?

I wasn’t aware that parking songs are that plentiful. It just goes to show you that you can learn things outside of a classroom setting.

International Towing and Recovery Museum

Isaiah Mouw

Oklahoma City may boast about being home of the world’s first parking meter, but it was my hometown of Chattanooga, Tenn., that gave birth to the tow truck. I didn’t know this tidbit of information before visiting the International Towing and Recovery Museum on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The museum was a pleasant surprise with lots of antique tow vehicles and other unique tow vehicles including the “World’s Fastest Wrecker” and an actual military wrecker that marched alongside Patton’s advance on Germany.mouwblog

Towing goes hand-in-hand with most parking operations and typically is associated with a negative experience or connotation. It’s easy to yell at a tow truck driver or tow yard employee (remember ESPN’s Britt McHenry) who has towed your vehicle, but that might change for a visitor to the Towing Memorial in the front of the museum which recognizes hundreds of towing professionals who lost their lives on the job helping others. A short section of the museum also remembers the tow drivers who worked round the clock during 9/11 to clear debris and vehicles helping rescue workers at Ground Zero.

The museum also had a lot of kid-friendly tow trucks along with several replicas of the most famous children’s tow truck celebrity: Mater from Pixar’s “Cars” movie. I love visiting unique or quirky museums when I travel and this was no exception. But most importantly, this may have inspired me to start the first ever International Parking Museum. If there’s a museum for barbed wire and a museum for toilets, why can’t there be one for parking.

Is it Really a Garage?

David Hill

Today, I am thinking about my garage.

It is a quite a nice garage: It’s a double-car, concrete slab, heated, insulated facility. There is a nice shingle roof and the siding matches the house. There’s ample wall space for a tool board or for some of those cool neon garage signs, and some nice sliding windows, lots of electrical outlets, and bright fluorescent lights. Overall, it’s a pretty decent little facility, just right for housing two large trucks and associated automotive gear. Appreciated by human males everywhere.

Looking around, though – and thinking deeply about things the way I do – I consider the garage a theoretical construct, a space, a residential element, and a concept for future lifestyle. I note that in some planners’ and architects’ visions, the garage will become an occasional and optional living or “people” space, and with the long-sought, much-anticipated, incessantly talked about by urban planning zealots, and apparently soon-to-be-realized obsolescence of the motor vehicle, I really wonder if the whole concept of the garage is still appropriate to modern times.

So, let’s test the theory. The authoritative Free OnLine Dictionary defines “garage” as


(gə-räzh′, -räj′)


1. A building or indoor space in which to park or keep a motor vehicle.

2. A commercial establishment where cars are repaired, serviced, or parked.

Is this definition still meaningful and accurate? I look to my own garage and add the following definition items:

3.  A building housing 11 old kids’ bicycles in various sizes and states of disrepair, usually stacked against the back wall and jammed together so that if you try and move one, they will all fall over and skin your leg and bang your foot.

4. A building containing your father’s old tools from 1950 or before the invention of electricity, which were only used three times and are too good to throw away.

5. Activity space for the stacking of garbage bags and recycling boxes and contents when it is raining or snowing, or when the garbage bin at the end of the lane is full.

6. Wall space for the display of storage cabinets, antique hunting and fishing gear, and the mother-in-law’s old landscape paintings.

7. Floor space for the situation of spare lumber and panelling pieces, random exotic power tools obtained on Father’s Day but never used, and piles of sawdust not yet cleaned up by resident teenagers.

8. Floor space for the accommodation of large boxes full of baby clothes and learn-to-read books.

9. Additional space accommodating extra boxes of records, gadgets, olds stereo parts, broken furniture, and stale pizza boxes left over from when the last teenager moved out, moved back in again, and then moved out again to a smaller apartment, saying she would be back for all of here valuable stuff “very soon.”

10. Location of the beer fridge.

11. Location of the spousal collection of ancient and dysfunctional family curiosities, for which the spouse remembers the original owner and context but disremembers the actual purpose or function.

In fact, as I look at my garage, the only definition elements absent from the building are those that have anything to do with motor vehicles.

I guess my garage is a modern, visionary, and fully actualized facility after all.


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.

Famous, Fast, and Furious

Frank L. Giles

Who has two thumbs and operates a parking deck featured in the new “The Fast and the Furious” movie? This guy, that’s who! That’s right, I’m famous. Well, I run a famous parking deck, anyway.

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen it yet, the new “Furious 7” ends with the complete and utter destruction of a large urban parking deck. Not to worry—we have everything put back together now. Filming started before Paul Walker died and for a while there we didn’t know if the movie would make it to theaters at all, but it did. We were honored to be a part of it and a part of such a tribute to Mr. Walker.

The studio was able to do some amazing things with that parking deck, including put it in a totally different city and level it! Not that I’m biased, but I recommend this movie. Parking got one more day in Hollywood. Now, I’m not saying that I should receive an Oscar because one of my facilities was featured in one of the greatest action movie series of all time … it’s enough just to be nominated.

15 Things You Probably Do Not Know About Parking Professionals

Bonnie Watts

If you’re looking for a special occasion to recognize unsung heroes, the calendar is full of the likes of National Boss’ Day, Administrative Professional’s Day, Clergy Appreciation Day, National Nurses Day, Friendship Day, and even Ferris Wheel Day (yes, there really is such a thing).

The closest thing a parking professional gets is Park(ing) Day. For those who never think about parking until it’s a necessity, parking is a means to an end. But for parking professionals, it’s the very meaning to their existence and often, they are unsung heroes themselves. I thought it would be fun to share a few interesting things about parking professionals, who are often behind the scenes but play an integral role in making parking as easy, accessible, and, yes, even environmentally-friendly to thousands of people moving throughout their day.

  1. Parking professionals know this is BIG business.  They know 30 billion is just a number, and the impact goes far beyond that.
  2. No, being in the parking industry doesn’t mean they are teaching adolescents how to park—but “Back to School” means a lot more to them than just peace and quiet around the house.
  3. Be prepared. Their friends may not want to drive around looking for parking with them, lest they suffer a lecture from a Shoup-ista on the disadvantages of free parking.
  4. CAPP, IPI, GPC, EMV, LED, LPR, TDM, POF (Pay on foot, not Plenty of Fish)—get ready for the alphabet soup that punctuates their vocabulary.
  5. Everyone is in the parking business (or at least six degrees from separation), right?  They find connections all the time—healthcare, retail, universities, cities, sporting events, concerts. Everything always leads back to parking.
  6. Planning date night? Dinner with friends? Catching a movie? Within moments, the options are narrowed down by best or most ample parking, and parking professionals slightly chuckle to themselves.
  7. Tell them all about your latest parking ticket. Got a booting story? They love fun parking stories and probably have some to rival your own.
  8. Whether traveling to exotic locations or with the family for spring break, the first thing they will notice when surveying the landscape from their hotel room view, is—you guessed it—any type of parking facility.
  9. If you’re attending a sporting event with them, wear comfortable shoes. They are going to park the furthest out but closest to the exit.
  10. Solar roadways make (most of) them geek out. Honeybee habitat on garage rooftops—the greening of the industry has made great strides.
  11. Anyone could do this, right?  Parking is actually a really tough job—dealing with the public, serving on the front line as first observers for safety and security.
  12. Yes, they drive around looking at parking garages for fun.  The architecture can be wonderful (and sometimes less so).
  13. Never underestimate a good sign or a bad one.
  14. They secretly get confused with new pay-to-park apps too but once mastered, wish they had thought of it first.
  15. They care. They genuinely care about the public and their customers. They care about creating drivable, livable communities and they want to be a positive part in your day-to-day movements. They are always striving for faster, more efficient, safer, and greener ways to get you where you need to go.

Parking professionals have a different lens in the way they look at the world and particularly, how we all get around. If it wasn’t for them, it would change the way we go about working, living, and functioning in our environments. I think that justifies some recognition. Maybe it’s high time we add “Parking Professionals Day” to the list of special occasions we celebrate.

Happy Parking


What if we could make the world a little brighter… a little happier… one person at a time?  I subscribe to a magazine called Live Happy:

Live Happy magazine is serious about happiness.

Weaving the science of positive psychology through inspiring features, relatable stories, and sage advice, we help people discover their personal journey of happiness in life, at work and at home.
I was on their website last week because I heard about the International Day of Happiness, which falls on March 20 this year. They have issued a challenge—the #HappyActs Challenge—to see how many “happy acts” we can complete by the International Day of Happiness.  A happy act might be offering to mow your neighbor’s lawn, running some errands for an elderly person, complimenting a coworker, or paying for the order of the person behind you in the coffee shop line.

In the parking industry, we all have opportunities to brighten someone’s day. Exceptional customer service can go a long way to ease a driver’s perceived pain of paying for parking or receiving a parking ticket, etc. Smile when you speak to your customer. Send a handwritten thank-you note to the person who took your meeting. Hand out a gift card for a cup of coffee when issuing that parking permit.

Live Happy will donate a dollar to Big Brothers Big Sisters for every person who accepts the #HappyActs challenge by clicking through and signing up. (As if you needed more incentive to do something awesome!)  You’re encouraged to share your #HappyActs on social media! Spread the smiles!!

Do you accept?


University to Municipality: What a Leap

Doug Holmes

Ah, the wonderful adventures of retired life. All you have to do is make sure you get the few things done around the house that need to be done, run some errands like grocery shopping, do a favor or two for the kids, bounce the grandkids off the ceiling a time or two, or maybe volunteer your time to do some work for the International Parking Institute (IPI).

Then you get THE PHONE CALL. “Hey, Doug, can we meet for lunch?” Sounds pretty innocent until at lunch you find out that your counterpart in the neighboring municipality is leaving his post as parking manager on fairly short notice and would you be willing to help with the transition to the new manager? The big tip-off should have been when I showed up for an interview, nicely groomed, in a suit with resumes and recommendations in-hand, and the first question I heard was, “When can you start?”

I figured what the heck, I have been pretty successful on a university campus for more than 30 years, past chairman of the IPI Board of Directors, and had to deal with 45,000 students, 18,000 parking spaces, 4 parking garages, 15,000 employees, my own staff of about a dozen direct reports, and goodness only knows how many visitors. How could dealing with the parking problems in such a bucolic municipality as State College, Penn., be much different?

The operative word there is “municipality.” I truly thought that at Penn State, I was in the public sector. I guess the answer is, sort of but not really. I know there are some exceptions where an individual state retains the right to set fees, fines, and so forth. But that was my world.

In a municipal setting, unless you have an authority (and maybe then as well) everything turns on the borough code of ordinances. Parking probably cannot just make a change to the application of policy. Once you have convinced the professional staff of a potential change, you must convince the elected officials that what you want to do will have a positive effect on the community. This was a major paradigm shift for me.

I must mention that even though there are a lot of differences between one side of College Avenue (the main dividing line between town and gown) and the other, there are a ton of similarities as well. Basic tactics and equipment are the same. The eleventh amendment to the Constitution, “The right to keep and bear an automobile shall not be abridged,” applies here also. Software may or may not be identical, but the areas of control and logic are very similar. Of course, I could be an old dog trying to learn new tricks, but the political differences between the two jurisdictions are huge.

The change has been significant. I have been rewarded as my abilities have been stretched and many new experiences added. There are times when an oddball idea generated by my academic past rolls around and gains traction in the borough. My different experiences and point of view have been of value here. I am very happy to say that I am still learning and this gig has definitely reinvigorated me. Thanks, State College!

I have been blessed with a very intelligent, imaginative, can-do staff and the phenomenal support of other departments within the borough from the borough manager through the HR director and IT department, down to my own assistants—it’s been marvelous and rewarding. The package of benefits is also very nice. However, I retired for a reason and that is why I have the word “Interim” in front of the title Parking Manager. I started on Sept. 2, 2014, and will be here until the new Parking Czar is in place. By the way, applications are being accepted until Feb. 28.

Be well, and looking forward to seeing you all in Las Vegas for the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo.

New Year’s Wishes

Mark Wright

Happy New Year, Santa.

You’ve parked your sleigh, fed your reindeer, and downed the last of those cookies you collected from youngsters’ homes around the globe.

You deserve a breather after all your hard work during the 2014 holidays. So rest up for a couple days. Then we need you back out there for some 2015 special missions while the glow and gratitude you’ve nurtured during this season of light remains bright.

Here are 10 requests for the New Year:

  1.  Deliver thankfulness to those of us who found our homes surrounded by presents.
  2. Restore patience to those of us who lost it while searching for holiday mall parking.
  3. Rekindle thoughtfulness in those of us who forgot the true meaning of the season.
  4. Accelerate innovative thinking in those of us working to improve others’ lives.
  5. Broaden the perspective of those of us whose view is too narrow.
  6. Ignite the lamp of insight in those of us who struggle through ignorance.
  7. Motivate those of us who are commercial property owners to install bollards or barriers between nose-in parking spots and the buildings they face.
  8. Build bridges of understanding and collaboration between those of us in the parking and transportation worlds.
  9. Help us all remember that you see who’s being naughty and who’s being nice…all year-‘round.
  10. Perhaps most importantly, remind us that even you must stoop with a shovel in hand to clean up after your reindeer every morning!

Parking Industry: A Well-Rounded Resume

Frank L. Giles

We’ve all been in the position of having to look for a new job or needing to take that next step in our career. So what do we do? Dust off the old resume. We want it to make us as attractive as possible

The best resumes are well-rounded, not one-dimensional. They relay a candidate’s versatile skills and varying experiences, and make him or her more attractive overall.

So what might the parking industry’s resume look like? It would probably read: on-street parking, airport parking, event parking and valet. It would also cover transportation and urban planning, but what might we be missing? I believe that the parking industry has positives that have not been accentuated enough. For instance, if you operate a parking deck, you probably have maintenance staff. I’ve seen maintenance personnel tackle everything from pressure washing to painting. I’ve even known maintenance staff who take care of landscaping, including cutting grass, hedges and setting plants, and I’m not just talking about around the parking deck, but along walkways and building fronts. These tasks are executed at a professional level on a daily basis by parking people.

We might also consider valet. Yes they park your car and they bring your car back, but is that it? I’ve known valets to carry luggage, give directions, and even recommend services and amenities. A good valet can easily replace a concierge.

These accomplishments are nothing to sneeze at and I’m sure there are a lot more I did not mention here. I think the parking industry would do well to add attributes like these on its proverbial resume. A well-rounded resume can make any candidate more attractive (not that we’re looking).

Even Dolly Parton Knows About Parking


I recently went to the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia to see “9 to 5: the Musical,” featuring the music and lyrics of Dolly Parton who many of you may recall starred in the 1980 movie of the same name.

s_bukley /

Photo credit: s_bukley /

During the first scene, Judy, who is late to work on her first, day reports to Violet, her new supervisor, that she’s sorry she is late for work. She’s very upset and goes through a whole host of issues regarding why she’s late. All of her issues are related to finding parking.

After Judy finishes her rant on not being able to find parking to come to work on time, she asks Violet a series of questions, starting with, “Violet, did you know that the first parking meter was made in Oklahoma City in 1935?” Of course she doesn’t give Violet the opportunity to even answer this question before asking more and more, until Violet rolls her eyes and walks away.

After Judy’s first question, I whispered to my friend in the next seat, “I knew that. That’s in our online Introduction to Parking course.” My friend giggled and looked at me with that of-course-you-knew-that look. She then whispered down the lane to all our friends in the row that I knew that information. As they heard the whisper, each one of them leaned over in my direction and gave me a look and a smile.

The play was spectacular but when it ended, the conversation as we walked to the parking garage focused on that first parking meter in Oklahoma City. The questions from my friends ranged from “Why Oklahoma City?” to “Who thought about charging for parking and why?” “Did he make money?” “What did he charge?” and “How did that help the city?”

As I found myself continuing to educate my friends around parking I thought to myself, “I wonder what it would be like if no one ever did think about inventing a parking meter?” When I joined IPI, I never thought parking would be this interesting. Even Dolly Parton knows about parking!

Harry Potter and the Parking Stone

Jeff Petry

In the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter starts off unaware of his wizardly abilities and kept in a storage closet under the stairs by his aunt and uncle. Gradually, the magical world is revealed to him, including heading off to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Each school year, he is faced with extraordinary challenges as the evil Lord Voldemort attempts to take over the world. Harry is the reluctant hero and leader. He is able to overcome the challenges with his close network of friends and mentors, educational training, and the infused power of love from his deceased parents (killed by Lord Voldemort).

Parking programs across the country can relate to the Harry Potter story. Many parking programs are relegated to organizational “closets” and not provided the opportunity to grow and operate in a nurturing environment to become positive influences in the community. Parking programs are not always recognized for their crucial links between organization and community stakeholders. Many times, parking revenue is just a line item of a larger program’s budget.

Harry Potter did not recognize his true value and power to influence world events on his own. It took a leader, Professor Dumbledore, to recognize the value of the young wizard and embed empathy and values in his personal and wizardly development. It took partnerships with friends and unexpected allies to overcome Voldemort’s evil plans to reshape the world. And all this was happening while the Muggles (non-wizard, everyday humans) were totally oblivious to these struggles, despite noticing weird occurrences around them.

The same can be said for parking programs across the country. It takes an organizational leader to truly understand the potential of parking in shaping a community and then mentor the program and its staff to work their parking magic for good. It takes strong partnerships within your organization and with the community to overcome the challenges thrown at the parking program.  It takes attending our parking school of wizardry (International Parking Institute and regional parking associations) to learn the magic. And this mostly happens under the radar of the majority of the community, except for the conversations around parking rates.

A parking wizard can help shape the community by figuring out how to overcome current challenges as well as those that will shape the community in the future. Are you ready to enter the magical world of parking?

The Right Frame of Mind

L. Dennis Burns

I am sure I am not alone in this: Some days I am sure I have the best job ever! On other days, some old country song about “take this job and shove it” plays over and over in my brain.

On the positive days, I appreciate the fact that my job as a parking and transportation consultant provides me with a constantly-learning environment and the ability to work with valued friends and colleagues all over the country and to continually be at the forefront of a rapidly changing and increasingly important field of endeavor. I work for a well-run company with excellent colleagues and all the resources one could hope to have.

On the bad days—usually after spending too much time on the road, dealing with travel issues, and balancing multiple project deadlines—well, we all have parts of our jobs that we wish we could change.

The bottom line of this rambling is to reinforce the importance of keeping a positive outlook and mindset. While I realize this is easier said than done, managing to create a sense of balance and perspective is critical, as is developing a sense of appreciation and contribution to the field you are working in.

It’s funny, but back in my college days I made a radical decision I have questioned ever since. Given where I have landed career wise, it may have been better to have stayed with my original major—urban planning. Instead, after taking a 400-level religious studies class called “The Great Secret” as an elective, I ended up with a degree in religious studies, which focused largely on philosophy, depth psychology, and the Socratic “Know thyself” (you can always specialize with your master’s degree). In retrospect, the degree I obtained has given me the ability to keep a larger sense of perspective and realization of the importance of balance in my life.

As Thomas Merton, a prolific writer, poet, thinker, and Trappist monk  put it, “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.” Vacation is almost here!

Parking Manager Lemonade Stand

Jeff Petry

Last week, as part of an effort to solicit feedback on a proposed parking rate increase, I set up my parking manager lemonade lemonadestand at various locations in our downtown. The intent of the lemonade stand is to give parking customers an opportunity to provide feedback, face to face. It is a friendly, and perhaps unexpected, approach to engage everyday parking customers, right where they are.

The lemonade stand was set up for about six hours at three locations over the course of three days. Here is what I learned/observed:

Downtown Park Location (lunch time):

-      A consistent flow of vehicle and pedestrian customers at our weekday Farmers’ Market that included downtown employees, families, people in suites or workout clothes, all ages, bicyclists–a perfect mixture of downtown customers!

-      A street violin player playing pleasing background music that could be heard better in the lulls of the vehicle traffic.

-      A farmer’s market booth staff person was curious about the “competition” of a lemonade stand and was pleasantly surprised to the find the City of Eugene’s parking manager in his bowling shirt uniform talking to downtown customers!

-      No questions or concerns on the parking rate increase, just smiles.

Downtown Parking Garage (4:00 – 6:00 p.m.)

-      More smiles from customers heading home from work.

-      Biggest question – Why did you remove all the trash cans from this garage?

  • Note: We removed trash cans from this parking garage to minimize our custodial needs and due to trash studies showing it was used by people dumping their home garbage in our cans. As a follow up, we will place a few more trash cans on the ground floor retail entry areas.

-      One downtown employee delivered an envelope containing a letter signed by about a dozen people asking us to not increase rates.

-      General comments of no issues with the first monthly permit rate increase in seven years.

Another Downtown Parking Garage (7:00 – 9:00 a.m.)

-      General questions such as: Where is the bus station? Is there secure bike parking? Why are you here?

-      General comments of no issues with the first monthly permit rate increase in seven years.

-      Several people took photos in the lemonade stand to show their coworkers.

The lemonade stand augmented a communications strategy that incorporated mail and social media, and allowed the parking program to add a personal touch to parking management and talk to our everyday customers. It helps defray the emotion that is present in emailed feedback. It provides a visual token that customers will remember for months to come. And, most importantly, it humanizes our parking program.

So, would you like a glass of lemonade?

The Watergate Garage

Isaiah Mouw

I just finished reading All the President’s Men by Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. The classic Mouw_Blogbook chronicles the investigative reporting of the Watergate burglary and the ensuing scandal of the Nixon administration’s attempted cover-up which eventually led to the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Gene Roberts called the work of Bernstein and Woodward “maybe the single greatest reporting effort of all time.” Robert Redford produced and starred in the film of the same name, and the authors introduced the world to one of the most infamous parking garages in the world.

Woodward secretly met with an anonymous FBI source nicknamed “Deep Throat” in the Rosslyn Garage in Arlington, Va., to get secret information on the Watergate scandal. The book validates the fact that parking garages can be extremely creepy, as the two chose to meet in a dark corner of a secluded garage in the middle of the night with odd sounds and sporadic noises freaky enough to frighten the likes of Stephen King. Reading it makes me wonder how easily such a meeting could happen today with the progressive security measures and technological advancements the parking industry has embraced in recent years.

Could Deep Throat and Woodward meet today in the bottom level of a parking garage without being captured on camera? Could they even get into a restricted access facility that requires credentials? Would sensors cause smart lights to turn on as they walk throughout the garage alerting management of activity in the bottom of the garage? Would the design of the garage have incorporated Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles that would make it harder to meet out of view of passers by? Would a roaming security guard ask them their business in the garage?

There are many garages where it’s still possible to hold secret secluded meetings, but it’s fun to think about the many garages that, thanks to technology and security upgrades, Woodward and Deep Throat  would have to pass by. Today, I think they’d have to meet in a park instead of a parking garage.

Could I Live in a Parking Space?

Frank L. Giles

Today’s big cities are more congested than ever, and it’s not just the traffic and parking that are in high demand: living space is at a premium as well. For every car on the road, there has to be a place to park. The same is true for people.

What if we could live in the same-size space our cars do? Could you live in a parking space? The students at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) asked that question and through a massive amount of collaborative ingenuity and creativity, the answer seems to be yes.

The average parking space is about 9 by 15 feet, give or take. The students at SCAD have undertaken the task of transforming spaces at their Atlanta campus parking deck into livable micro housing units, each complete with a kitchen, sleeping area, bathroom, and shower. These micro units, called “SCAD Pads,” are due to be occupied by selected SCAD students this April. The students will log their daily living experience using social media.

If this concept takes hold, you may one day ponder living in one of the spaces you manage. So what do you think: could you live in a parking space? Let us know in the comments.



Tea and Parking: What’s the Deal?

JC Porter, Parking and Transportation, Bronco Snapshot, cq

Success boils down to how you treat your customers and employees. I had the opportunity to read The Parking Professional’s Goldman Coverinterview with bestselling author, CEO, and green advocate Seth Goldman in the December issue (coming to your mailbox soon), and found it very insightful. Without giving away all the details of the interview, I want to discuss a few themes Goldman talks about and how they apply to parking.

The first thing he addresses is having a mission that employees at all levels can understand and get behind. Often, mission statements are written by leaders who are not out doing the job on a day-to-day basis and may not have the vision of what a frontline job could be. Getting employees’ buy-in on mission requires their involvement from the ground up. We have to give them the responsibility that will allow them to make decisions that go along with the mission, and empower them to make decisions that translate to top-notch customer service.

Goldman’s second piece of advice is to think like a customer, to ensure the services they want and need are being provided. Most times, we like to tell our customers what they want or need instead of listening to them.

Finally, he advises treating everyone equally so no one feels like an outsider in the corporate environment. This, he says, translates to parking pretty easily: cyclists tend to be relegated to the corner or an area that is under-utilized when bike storage is provided at all. Instead, create spaces that are well thought-out and will help encourage cycling. Consider bike storage that is secure, covered, and close to the front door; lockers and showers; and having a vending machine that dispenses tubes, batteries, or other bicycle-related items to allow quick fix before the ride home. The return on investment for these services will be high; bike infrastructure is inexpensive and employees who bike to work are in better health and less stressed when arriving to work than those who commute by car.

I hope you’ll take time to read the interview with Seth Goldman in the December issue of The Parking Professional. Finding your mission can be as easy as looking toward your employees and customers, and not just looking at the bottom line.



Thanksgiving: Parking Family


This is the time of the year many of us take a moment to examine the things we have accomplished during the past 11 months and either celebrate or reinvigorate ourselves with new energy to finish those pending projects in the last four weeks of the calendar year. But it is also a time for traditions; it is a time to come together with loved ones, families, colleagues, and friends, share food and fun, and be thankful.

As I prepare for a Thanksgiving get-together at my house with my two daughters, family, and friends, I am making notes of all the things that I will be thankful for, including those we sometimes we take for granted: the cooking of the turkey, for example!

This year, I am thankful for my health and for the ability to be able to enjoy life with my girls.

I am thankful that Briana was accepted to the university of her choice and that Diana keeps excelling at volleyball.

I am thankful to have crossed completing a Tough Mudder event off my bucket list. But I am more thankful for the friendships and camaraderie formed with other parking peeps during the event.

I give thanks for a job that provides as many challenges as rewards, and for the opportunity to work with a very talented and fun group of people.

I am also very thankful for having the great fortune to belong to an organization such as IPI, where I have been able to grow as an individual and in the professional arena. I feel extremely blessed to call some of the people I have met through this organization not just colleagues, but BFFs.

I am thankful for the people who work for IPI and the many accomplishments they have helped us achieve in the parking and transportation industry worldwide. The list of accomplishments over the last year is exhausting, and many of these accomplishments could not have been realized without volunteers. The real magic of IPI is the number and caliber of volunteers who give back to their profession by offering their talents, time, and expertise on our board, committees, councils, and task forces. Words can’t express the gratitude I feel and owe to all our volunteers–my heartfelt thank you goes to all of you.

We all know that it takes a team to make it happen, and we have a very strong team! More than 400 people answered our biannual call for volunteers, and they are the ones helping us move the needle and IPI forward. We have made great progress in developing the international arena in the parking profession by providing services and programs to parking professionals in North America, Europe, Brazil, Mexico, and other parts of South America, and we will keep expanding on this effort.

I could go on and on listing accomplishments, but I’ll close by expressing my most sincere gratitude to all of you and how privileged I feel to be the chair of such a vibrant and active community–one dedicated to advancing the parking profession.

Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving Day while I prepare to cook my first turkey!



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 the PGA

Frank L. Giles

As a parking professional, I consider the noble golf cart to be my industry’s vehicle of choice. My perspective was slightly changed shutterstock_101925589however, when I had the opportunity to park cars for the 95th PGA Golf Championship in August. We spent more than 10 days in Rochester, N.Y., facilitating parking for the players, media, volunteers, and spectators. I soon came to the realization that golf carts are not just for zipping around parking lots–players also use them for golf!

To say the least, the experience was exhilarating. We parked thousands of cars; got a chance to see some of the Oak Hill course and got to work with some really great Rochesterians. Coming from the south I can say that the hospitality we were shown was second to none. At the end of the day, Jason Dufner won, my wife got a PGA sports bottle, and I learned that the parking industry isn’t the only industry to lay claim to the golf cart. Who knew?

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.


Creepy, Crawly Critters

Isaiah Mouw

The Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River on August 1, 2007, killing 13 people. After an shutterstock_125749664investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), faulty design was blamed for the collapse. However, the original culprit was pigeons. Pigeon droppings contain acids and ammonia, and if not removed will eventually rust steel and dissolve concrete.

At The 2013 IPI Conference & Expo, I stumbled across the booth of a company that specializes in pigeon problems. Avian Flyaway is an expert in bird control services and bird deterrent systems that are used across the U.S., including on famous landmarks such as the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. I wish I had their information earlier in my career, when we accepted contracts where pigeon droppings were so bad that we had to use a snow plow to help remove them.

This made me want to compile a list of other critter issues we’ve witnessed over the years in parking:

Opossums. Last year, we had to remove an opossum from our parking lot. The opossum was affixed atop a reserved parking sign and apparently did not want to give up his parking space. I’ve heard that opossums play dead as a defense mechanism. Unfortunately, this critter missed the memo, and instead growled and snapped its teeth at anyone and anything. Luckily, with a friendly nudge from a broomstick, it jumped and took off.

Snakes. Earlier this year, we had a four-foot snake slither underneath the bottom of a truck whose owner parked at his home in a rural area. The parker drove his truck downtown and parked in the garage that houses our office. The snake decided he had enough fun in the truck, got down, and checked out the parking garage. Several screams later, we were able to locate and capture the snake, who can now be visited seven days a week at the local zoo.

Elephants. (Thankfully, this did not occur in one of my facilities.) Giving a whole new meaning to the elephant in the room, a circus elephant escaped from his handlers and galloped through a municipal parking lot. No one was injured. You can watch the video here.

As far as animals and parking working together, check out the website to the Denver Zoo parking garage. From their website: “Combining graphics, a sound system that challenges visitors to name the animal, and well-lit parking levels, the garage is secure and easy to navigate. Many features have been incorporated to insure easy zoo access for all visitors. Each level has been given a specific animal designation: level one, the top level of the garage, is Boa; level two is Macaw, three is Tiger, and four is Zebra. Graphics on each floor correspond to the animal name, making remembering which floor a car is parked on that much easier.”

Do you have any interesting parking garage critter stories? Please share with us in the comments below. Rest assured, no animals were harmed in their removal from the above mentioned parking facilities.