An Entire Industry Shuts Down –


An Entire Industry Shuts Down –

When we are told we can’t meet, can’t go to restaurants, can’t go the theaters, can’t travel and must work from home, where does that leave our cars? Well one place they aren’t is in parking garages.

I’m told that in many cities, garages are simply empty. That may not affect the monthly business, certainly not for a few weeks, but the daily parkers who foot the bill for most parking operations are nonexistent.

So now what?

A colleague remembers 9/11. There were a few weeks of similar shutdowns. There was the Northridge Earthquake in Los Angeles. The city was reduced to a crawl.  This isn’t the first time this has happened, and won’t be the last.

The biggest issue is that we are in uncharted territory now. Whereas the problems after 9/11 were short lived (less than a month), we don’t even have a feel for how long this is going to last. Whether or not the timing is reasonable, or the virus is as deadly or virulent as stated, it makes no difference. Action that affects our lives is being taken at every level. Its easy to close a restaurant, but just how easy is it to open one later. Just who is going to say “OK, its safe to go out now.”

In the meantime, garages continue to be empty. What to do?

My advice, unsolicited as it is, is to move slowly. We are in early days. We don’t know yet how effective the ‘shutdowns’ will be. If they are extremely effective, then the crisis may be short lived. Don’t make long term decisions. Take it a week or two at a time.

Talk to your vendors. Work together to find solutions to the supply chain problems in which we find ourselves. A postponement might be better than a cancellation. A panic cancel of an order might mean a disaster for you a few weeks down the line.

In other words, let’s not take this lying down. Dylan Thomas reminded us to

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. JVH: Your article raises a question – two really. (Nothing new there!)

    Are we in the birth pangs of a “new normal” for telecommuting? Will significantly more people make the transition permanently – a larger share than we might have thought possible just a few months ago? I’m talking about the folks who could have chosen to work from home but until forced into isolation and shutdowns, opted for the daily commute if not five days per week, at least four.

    It’s hard to replicate online the social positives and synergy when people come together. On a personal level, the camaraderie of my workplace was a beautiful thing and made bearable a multi-modal two-hour round trip commute. Working hard and laughing harder went hand in hand – the latter making the former easy. But for a nearby office in our high-rise, neither smile nor chuckle emanated – as if working remotely just feet apart.

    Yet, for all the positives of teamwork, having a cat on your lap(top) or a dog at your feet, or a child or significant other within a hug’s reach, are also incentive and reward for telecommuting in ways all their own. It’s very easy to get used to this “working from home” gig. And it’s so “Green”.

    So maybe the big question is: Will a sustained modal shift be an unintended consequence from this horrible virus?

    After all, if a sizable number of workers can do it for a month or two, or three or four, why not year-round? The reduction in congestion and pollution from a seismically shifted work model would be a planner’s Utopia.

    But at what cost to parking owners and suppliers, downtown businesses, and the social ties that bind?

    If we don’t have a hint by the first day of summer, we may have an answer by the first day of winter.

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