25 Years, Getting Out, The Price of Stuff


25 Years, Getting Out, The Price of Stuff

It was 1996. Bill Clinton was elected president. Gas was $1.22 a gallon. The Dow closed the year at 6,400. Mad Cow Disease was ravaging the UK. Prince Charles and Diana were divorced. Nintendo 64 and DVDs were launched in Japan. Gunmen attack in Scotland and Tasmania. The summer Olympics were held in Atlanta. Windows NT 4.0 was released by Microsoft. The Spice Girls released their first Number 1, “Wannabe”. Movies included “Independence Day,” “The Birdcage,” “A Time to a Kill,” and “The English Patient.” Jacques Chirac was President of France, Helmut Kohl was Chancellor of Germany, Boris Yeltsin was the General Secretary of the CPSU, and John Major was Prime Minister of the UK. Parking Today begins publication.

It’s been an exciting ride. I am researching just what happened in our industry over the past quarter century and will have a complete report in our upcoming PT in April. Suffice it to say, there will be plenty of comments about technology, about consolidation, about how cities should approach on and off-street parking, and of course, Don Shoup.

We are planning a super extra issue for April, celebrating those who have supported us over the years. In fact, there are nine companies that have been with us all the way. We are most grateful. There will be stories about each of them in upcoming issues. It seems they have grown right along with us.

Be on the lookout for tidbits about just what happened to parking over the past two and a half decades. You probably won’t be surprised, as you lived it right along with us. Our staff will be reaching out to companies who support the parking industry, and the invitation is open to join us in our celebration. We would be proud to have you along with us.

Last month I took a quick trip to check out the new location for PIE 2021. Just getting out of the office, on an airplane, and staying overnight in a hotel was refreshing. I had been locked down between the office and the house for months. What little creative juice I normally have had been sapped, and I was useless.

That short trip reminded me what it was like to meet people face to face. I saw new people, made a couple of friends, and was reminded that the world didn’t end at my property line. The destination airport was rocking and rolling. That airport, unlike LAX, was filled with people coming and going. Shops and restaurants were open, people were traveling, and I felt that all was right with the world.

Then Astrid reminded me of something I knew, but had simply shut down:

… that things work in society, because biology compels it.

Order eventually restores itself, by psychic equilibrium.

– Camille Paglia

No matter what is going on, no matter how much chaos is surrounding us, order does eventually restore itself. Whether we help or not. Nature works that way. I had the opportunity to see that people do get on with life. And those of us in California, Illinois, New York and the like will be restored, like those in Florida, Texas, Georgia, and the Dakotas. Little by little, no matter how hard we try to stop it, order will restore itself.

If for no other reason than to be reminded that the world will return to normal, not a ‘new’ normal, but normal, going out and leading our lives is important. The Parking Industry Exhibition we will be holding in July will be a fantastic opportunity to prove to yourself that order and life will be restored. See old friends, meet new ones, take a trip to a beautiful resort, and if it happens, do some business.

However, I don’t think that the business part is the most important. The clearing of heads, the deep breaths of clear air, the smiles and conversations that are face to face, those are the things that make the first face-to-face meeting of our industry so important.

You have to break out of the cycle of lockdowns, stay-at-homes, Zoom meetings, and endless TV. Here is the perfect opportunity.

See you, face to face, soon.

I spoke to a student from USC a few days ago. He was calling to learn ‘more about the parking industry.’ He is developing an app to enable students to communicate “peer to peer” and share rides and parking.

My first question was ‘how much does he pay for parking now?’ He said about $40 a month. But he felt that was too much. Students just didn’t have that kind of money. (They had enough to pay for a car, gas, insurance, maintenance, and the rest, but not enough to pay $40 for parking.)

He wanted to develop a system of parking areas off campus (like the local church) where commuting students could park. Fair enough. I asked him how much the church should charge. He said that certainly less than the $40 per month they now pay. He seemed perplexed when I told him that the church would most likely have to hire an attendant or security to protect the cars, insurance to protect the church, lighting, maintenance to sweep and clean the lot, considerable bureaucracy to issue and maintain the permits plus enforcement. If the church had 100 spaces at $40 per, the resulting four grand would hardly cover the costs.

A lot of these apps enable people to share their driveway with others to provide parking in dense areas. It’s only one space, so what should a homeowner charge for that space? I would think that the trouble you have to go through having a stranger parking on your property should be worth something. I wonder if my student friend does.

I don’t mean to run down this fellow, I know he meant well. But shouldn’t we be teaching courses in the value of stuff? How much does land cost? How about insurance, security, paving, lighting. Do they know that $15 an hour really means around $22 after you include all the taxes and the rest? 

Just Sayin’.


Article contributed by:
John Van Horn
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