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

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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 / Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

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

Liliana_Rambo-Pink_suit

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 shopipi.com (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 parking.org/photocontest 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 fernandez@parking.org–we’ll publish them in a future issue of the magazine (also think about entering your Park(ing) Day photos in our contest–visit parking.org/photocontest 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 parkingday.org 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.

 

 

Bracket Monday, The IPI Way

Henry Wallmeyer

First there was Cyber Monday and now there is Bracket Monday. Bracket Monday is the day after the NCAA Basketball Tournament Bball for blogis announced, when roughly 30 million people anguish over which 12-seed will beat a five-seed this year, which teams are peaking, and which teams might slide as they fill out the 63 spaces on the now-iconic bracket (I don’t bother picking the play-in games). And while there are estimates that workers distracted by March Madness cost employers about $175 million in productivity during the first two days of the tournament, let’s look at the good that can come from it–in an IPI way.

One of the greatest benefits of IPI membership is the ability to network with your peers from across the country and around the world. Whether at the IPI Conference & Expo, through committees, or by other means, it’s easy to reach out and connect. The best way may be nothing more complicated than an introductory email or phone call introducing yourself as “a fellow member of IPI…” This opens doors widely that might be very tough to even crack. That’s what I love about associations—they create great camaraderie. (O.K. great, Henry, but where are you going with this?)

As I heard Villanova’s (that’s my alma mater’s) name called on Sunday as a number-nine seed (too high in my opinion, but I will take it) and learned our opponent would be North Carolina, I immediately thought about Ray Magyar, CAPP, transportation planner at UNC. And my second thought was that perhaps a friendly wager was in order. I’m not talking mortgage or paycheck-level bets, but a little bet to spice things up–a buck or five, or a beer next time we meet.

This is my assignment for you: use your employment, alumni, or superfan status at a NCAA or NIT tournament school to reach out to an industry peer (use IPI’s Who’s Who in Parking to make the connection) at your opponent’s school and have a little fun. Ideally, arrange to collect on your wager at the 2013 IPI Conference & Expo in Fort Lauderdale. No matter what you wager or when you make good, you’ll have the opportunity to meet new people and make new connections in the parking industry.

Don’t just do it for these first-round games, either. I already have my sights set on Donna Hultine, CAPP, director, parking and transit department at the University of Kansas, for round two. In case you were wondering, my Final Four are: Louisville, Miami, Ohio State, and Villanova (picking with my heart and not my head on that one). Let me know your Final Four and the friendly wagers you make with your peers–comment below.

 


 

A Parking Spot Fit for a King

TJ Cantwell

If by chance you’ve ever parked a car in Leicester, England, you might have been standing on top of royalty.

Scientists there recently confirmed that remains of a body found buried under a parking lot are, in fact, those of King Richard III. The reviled king holds a special place in English history as both the last Plantagenet king, occupying the throne before the Tudors took power, and of being the man who imprisoned his nephews to take that throne for himself.

The final resting place of Richard III, who was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, was a mystery for more than 500 years until last August, when archeologists and historians asked to dig in a parking lot where records indicated a friary was likely located centuries before. Permission was granted, shovels hit dirt, and before long, the researchers uncovered human remains.

Once the skeleton was unearthed, initial examinations showed strong indications that it was the former king, including a fractured skull and curved spin, but DNA testing did not definitively prove it was Richard III until recently. In the meantime, hundreds of tourists have flocked to the former parking lot, which is now an historic site (go figure), to get a glimpse of the last resting place of a much-maligned monarch.

The story of a long-lost king found hundreds of years after his death beneath a parking lot is a great example of the way history and parking are often intertwined and how parking can be a daily adventure. For more on the discovery check out these articles:

Richard III: The mystery of the king and the car parking lot. http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/01/world/europe/search-for-richard-iii/index.html

Body found under parking lot is King Richard III, scientists prove. http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/03/world/europe/richard-iii-search-announcement/index.html

Just think: what might you find beneath your parking spot?

 

 

Parking Career Day

Frank L. Giles

Do you sometimes find it difficult to explain to people what you do as a parking professional or even what the parking industry is? Try explaining it to a bunch of middle school students. Better yet, try explaining it to them after they’ve had a chance to sit in of a firetruck and talk about what firefighters do all day.

That’s exactly what I had to do a few weeks ago and let me tell you something: if you can sell the parking industry to a room full of 12-year-olds, you can sell it to anybody. Don’t get me wrong–it was a great honor to speak at the McNair Middle School career day. The kids were great and had lots of questions. I think we have to admit, however, that if we’re going to talk to students about parking for 45 minutes, we have to find ways to spice it up a bit.

I was able to get their attention by talking about all the cool cars I get to see and some of the famous people I’ve seen and met while working in parking. That held their attention long enough to get to some of the so-called “boring stuff,” such as leading a team and managing revenue (it helps to make constant references to sports and video games).

All in all, it was a successful career day. Not only did I feel like the kids learned something but I also learned: Even 12-year-old kids are willing to listen to us talk about parking as long as we relate it to something they are already interested in or concerned about. I’m pretty sure this would work with adults as well. First McNair Middle School, next the world!

What Are We Blogging About?

Barbara-J.-Chance-120x120

Parking word cloudIf you haven’t seen the wonderful little program Wordle, go to the website and create some “word clouds” from your own text.  It’s fun and free.

Wordle uses your text and creates an image that illustrates which words appear most often in that text.  I took last year’s Parking Matters blog text and ran it through Wordle to see what we have been blogging about, and thus what we have been thinking about.  The accompanying image shows the words used most frequently as the ones with most prominence.

Clearly “parking” is the winner – no surprise there!  But look at the words that come in below parking:  people, new, work, transportation, industry, time, employees.

Much smaller in size are some words that should be important to us all:  customers, team, strategies, planning, and management.

The real message here is that our words indicate the issues we are emphasizing, or not!  Especially in this economy, the five words mentioned (customers, team, strategies, planning, and management) will continue to be all the more important to add value to our services, both perceived and actual.

This year, give some thought to the words you use — the words you emphasize.  They indicate what is important to you, and they tell others what matters to you most.  The New Year is a great time to develop plans focused on the five words above, inspiring better relationships with staff and customers and clearly describing the objectives for the upcoming year.  

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
T.S. Eliot

Parking Publicity: Making “The List,” Watching it Twice

The List   Parking Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress   Around Town Story

Watch this fun video about parking during the holidays and share the link. It’s just one example
of IPI’s annual publicity campaign (via the Parking Matters® program) to provide the public with
holiday parking advice that reflects well on the parking profession. This is a video of a segment
on the hot new show The List, which aired last Friday on network affiliated stations in Phoenix,
Baltimore, Tampa, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Tulsa. IPI Chair Casey Jones, CAPP, is featured
via a Skype interview with the reporter, and not only is IPI mentioned, but the segment also
includes footage of our website. As usual, the commentary includes light-hearted disbelief that
there is an association for parking professionals, but there’s time spent talking about industry
innovations such as mobile apps as well.

Our Parking Matters® program is generally focused on business-related media, but a few times
a year we send out something that will generate general consumer coverage–trying to get some
fun, positive coverage about parking–and that’s what our holiday tips news release is all about.
Educating the public to be careful because so many crashes take place in parking areas is a
good public service message as well, and it’s good for the industry.

I have another list – it’s the (long) list of the IPI members who have taken time out of their day,
often at a moment’s notice, to speak to reporters and be ambassadors for the entire profession
through the Parking Matters® program.

In the past months, Dennis Burns, CAPP, helped me frame a message for the UBM Future
Cities blog, Larry Cohen, CAPP, was interviewed for a Pennsylvania newspaper, Roamy Valera,
CAPP, was quoted in a Florida daily, Art Noriega fielded questions from a business reporter
in Arizona, Bob Harkins and Geary Robinson, CAPP, were featured experts in a column in
Buildings Magazine, Cindy Campbell is tapped for radio and newspaper articles regularly, Mike
Drow, CAPP, was quoted in BOMA Magazine, Isaiah Mouw, CAPP, Mike Klein, CAPP, Allen
Corry, CAPP, Rick Decker, CAPP, Tim Haahs, Gary Means, CAPP, Tom Wunk, CAPP, Laurens
Eckelboom, Liliana Rambo, CAPP, Dave Hill, CAPP, and many others, have all provided
outstanding Parking Matters® media support. Read examples of media coverage, along with
tips on How to Speak Parking Matters here.

IPI Chair Casey Jones, CAPP and IPI Executive Director Shawn Conrad, CAE serve as our
primary media spokespersons, of course, and they are on speed dial – not a week goes by
they aren’t tapped for a media interview. We’re spreading the word about the value of parking
professionals, and that’s cheerful news to spread, this season and always.

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!

The Art of Parking

Jeff Petry

Having the “Sunbathing Lady of the Lot” suddenly appear in our parking lot opened my mind to parking art. It also led me down a path of path of parking art that has included Knotty Knitters crafting cozies for meter poles and bike racks, a yearlong partnership with students at nearby Lane Community College to design and fabricate custom bike racks, a North American art competition on the wall of a parking garage that’s run for three years now, poetry installed in the stairway of a parking garage, a poem on the epark Eugene iPhone app, digital art on top of parking garages, and a street artist competition on concrete parking bollards.

We in Eugene have enjoyed a breadcrumb approach to incorporating art into our parking program. It started with the city’s Public Art Plan goal to “incorporate art into everyday objects.” It continued by inserting the word “parking” into this goal and working to “incorporate art into everyday parking objects.”

My first exposure to parking art was an overnight installation by the 12th Avenue Collaborative group that placed a parking space-sized, bikini-clad lady in our lot. I had a choice: trash it or let it stay. The artists made the decision easy by paying for all the parking spaces they used, and the lady attracted a lot of downtown visitors and positive attention, which is great news for any parking program.

Recently, at the Pacific Intermountain Parking & Transportation Association (PITPA) Conference and Tradeshow, keynote speaker Darin Watkins, of Washington State University, asked the audience, “How many of you can say you had three positive media stories  about your program in the last year?” I was able to raise my hand because we have invested in local partnerships that bring creativity to our parking system. This idea, however, is not unique. It could be implemented anywhere. All it takes is a parking professional willing to ask the question. Are you that person?

The Parking Expert Travels

Rachael Yoka

I used to be a good traveling companion. At least, I thought so and people seemed to be willing to travel out of town with me.

Then I got really into parking. The more experience I gained in the parking industry, the more intrigued I became with its facilities, especially garages. I cannot pass one without going in, or at least drawing near for a closer look at how it is designed, how it operates, the technology it uses. Moth to a flame–nothing I can do about it. This pull intensifies when I am going to a new city or place, which I am fortunate enough to do quite often.

Of particular note are those structures with evidence of distress, cracking, lack of maintenance, or an overall lack of TLC. These unloved buildings get a lot of my attention. Confusing functional design also rises to the top.

I recently traveled to Florida with a parking colleague. In this case, shopping drew us to a particular garage, but that isn’t the point. Even with our two heads together, we could not figure out which way we were supposed to go. (Please, no comments about female drivers either–also not the point.) Our complaints were detailed, our position was righteous, and we were not to be quieted. We talked about the experience long after parking the car and getting where we wanted to go.

When I travel with colleagues and friends (those not fortunate enough to be directly involved with the parking industry), my experience is altogether different. When we enter a garage, they turn to me and state, very clearly, “Don’t tell us about the details. Don’t talk about the signage to the elevator, or retrofitting with energy efficient lights. By all means, do not point out where they should put the solar array!”

I suppose I should be happy that they know so much about parking, and how much goes into garages and their operation, that they no longer need my insights.

But maybe I need to make (more) friends in the parking industry to travel with.

Parking’s Beautiful Images

L. Dennis Burns

I admit it, I really like parking! When you truly get absorbed into a profession or any area of serious interest, there is no end to the dimensions and nuances you can see that are lost on others.

Not many things have captured my interest as much as parking, but the one that has is photography! Stick a camera in my hand and I can wander happily for hours and hours no matter where I am. Check out this cool image from an off the beaten path parking lot in Seattle!

I was thrilled to learn that IPI had found a way to merge two of my favorite things into a friendly competition: The Parking Professional Photo Contest! How great is that!

The categories for submissions include:

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

Every photo submitted will also be considered for the Best in Show award, which comes with a free registration to the 2013 IPI Conference & Expo in Ft. Lauderdale, and publication on the cover of a future issue of The Parking Professional. Winners of individual categories will receive Parking Matters® shirts and see their photos published in the magazine as well.

I can’t wait to see the kinds of images that will be submitted. Imagine trying to capture the essence of our profession in photographs. The possibilities are endless! I’m already searching my files for the perfect parking picture. I hope you will join me!

Want more info? Go to: www.parking.org/photocontest.

All Is Vanity … Plates

Isaiah Mouw

A Yahoo article recently told the story of Danny White of Washington, D.C., who purchased a vanity plate that simply said, ‘NO TAGS’. What’s the problem with this? Enforcement officers write “no tags” when issuing a parking ticket for a vehicle with no license plate. As a result, White has racked up a total of more than $20,000 worth of parking tickets, none of which belong to him.

Washington, D.C. driver Danny White thought he had a really good idea for a joke. But the joke’s on him–to the tune of $20,000, reports local affiliate NBC4.

White’s prank started 25 years ago when he got a vanity license plate reading, “NO TAGS.” He told NBC4 that he was ”Just having fun!” and that ”D.C. don’t get the joke. They don’t get it.”

The article also mentions Nick Vautier of Los Angeles, Calif., who bought a vanity plate with his initials. Enforcement officers there often use “NV” when writing a citation for a plate-less vehicle. Vautier eventually changed his plate after scores of unpaid ticket notices flooded his mailbox.

Early in my parking career, I used the plate “ABC123″ when training officers to write parking tickets. There was a woman in a nearby town who kept receiving notices for unpaid tickets even though she rarely came to our city; her tags were, of course, ABC123. Being a teacher, she would not part ways with that plate.

Some cities now scan bar codes from state inspection stickers when issuing parking tickets. The scan records bar code data including plate type and VIN. This eliminates much of the confusion from vanity plates or the growing number of specialty plates that use the same number system as unadorned tags, but depend on the officer to differentiate by noting a college logo or other plate design.

Whatever the resolution is, I’d have to agree with a comment on the website: “It’s 2012. This should be something that technology should be easily able to fix.” The other I like is this: “My next car will have the plate ‘I FORGOT’. That way, if I get in a hit and run accident and the cops ask the guy I hit what the license plate was of my car…”

Backing into Green

Frank L. Giles

I still remember my dad’s 1978 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Whenever he and I stopped along the way on our adventures, he would always back into the parking space. It was almost ceremonial; he would swing wide to line the car up just right, place the ball of his left hand on the wheel, and pass his right arm just over my head so his hand was on the passenger headrest. With a slow smooth turn of the steering wheel, the car would glide into the space just right.

Believe it or not, he was doing something sustainable. I know—you’re thinking, “The only way to get a ’78 Caddi green is paint it.” As it turns out, backing into a parking space can be good for the environment. Now that I’m an adult I find myself backing into parking spaces just like dad did (minus some of the finesse), but I always justified it as being safer than pulling in forwards. There is less chance of hitting another car while backing into a space than there is while backing out into traffic. Also, it’s easier to leave a dangerous situation if you can pull straight out.

Now I have another reason to swing wide and glide into a space: turns out, it more fuel efficient. Studies show that it takes considerably more fuel to back up when the engine is cold than it does when it is warm. This means you help the environment and save a little money. So if you haven’t been able to start your personal green initiative head-on, take a cue from my dad and back into it.