Separate the Parking Experience from the Money


Separate the Parking Experience from the Money

When I spoke at a recent regional parking event, I was riffing on the money involved in municipal parking. I told the story of a parking manager who, when asked if he was there to protect the asset known as parking or collect money, asked “on the record or off the record?”

On the record, he held forth on parking as an asset and protecting it for merchants, residents and the like. Off the record, he said that, of course, he was under pressure to perform and generate revenue. Gotta balance that budget for the Mayor.

One of the folks in the audience, a very smart woman from a large metropolitan area, commented that “you can’t separate parking/enforcement/and the money.”

Most of the people in the room agreed that they are under pressure to generate revenue either through citations or on-street charges (meters). Heads were nodding everywhere. Money is what the bean counters care about – and the politicos.

That got me to thinking. Can you separate the parking experience from the money?

We must live in the real world. We all report to someone, and they report to someone. And at each level there is pressure to perform – and performance is usually measured by money.

And of course, if we are to have some kind of control, to enforce the rules, there must be some sanction we can impose. The most relevant sanction is a fine. Hit ‘em in the pocketbook.

Most cities have a large backlog in fines that are uncollected. Many people just can’t afford to pay them, and then we slap on penalties and they still can’t afford to pay them.

Is there any alternative?

How about “parking school” – people can go to traffic school to get traffic tickets off their records, why not parking school in lieu of fines? It could be online or in person. They could learn the rules and WHY we have them.

I’m a great proponent of giving cautionary citations – but when the PEO actually can talk to the offender they should explain the rules and just why it’s important to obey them. Track these and if a person gets more than one or two in a certain period of time, slap ‘em with a ticket.

Clarity – parking signs can be very confusing – we should have a “10 year old rule.” Show the sign to a 10 year old and if they can’t understand it, change it so they can.

I’m sure there are many more ideas out there to separate the money from the parking program.

I’m also sure they won’t be popular with the powers that be.

David Leonhardt, writing in The New York Times, has proposed something that may help around your house during the holidays. He has expanded on “Tech Shabbat”, a tradition started in 2010 by Internet Pioneer Tiffany Shlain and her husband Ken Goldberg. In keeping with rest and reflection those of the Jewish faith find in their weekly Shabbat, the Tech Shabbat is a 24-hour period where the technology we use daily (cell phones, laptops, computers) is turned off and we spend time with our families and friends in non ‘connected’ pursuits. Leonhardt writes:

I wasn’t sure whether I’d like it, I’ll admit, and our kids were even less sure.

But it was wonderful. We hung out with friends, without distraction. We never had to ask, guiltily, “Sorry, what’d you say?” because we had been only semi-listening. In between scheduled activities, we took a walk and played a board game, Settlers of Catan. I spent time thinking about long-term projects instead of replying to unimportant emails. It felt productive, rejuvenating and, yes, fun.

Tiffany Shlain, a filmmaker who popularized the idea of a Tech Shabbat, says that on her day without screens, she laughs more, sleeps better and feels healthier. As she writes in her recent book, “24/6”: “Having one day off each week shocks you anew into the realization of how bizarre it is that everyone is head-down, looking at screens all the time. That should never feel normal.”

This is my challenge for the New Year: Follow Tiffany and David and take time out from your connected world. Put the tech away and look up from your lap and say “hello” to your family and friends. Play a board game, take a walk, talk about “stuff.” Take an hour and just think about your life, or why the dog acts that way. You don’t have to be scholarly, just disconnected.

It will be a new world, living your life with technology “24/6.”


Over on Parknews Astrid has posted an article titled: Where to park at or near LAX at the holidays and why a private lot may be better. Frankly, I think a private lot is always better.

Depending on the lot, you can use their valet service, meaning you drop your car off in the arrival area and pick it up there when you return. You credit card is on file, so you can just get in your car and leave.

If you park in the huge lots in the interior of the airport, you will pay more than you would pay off airport, often twice as much, and you have to walk from your car to the terminal. Off-airport services drop you right in front of your terminal. Plus, you have to deal with the traffic in the airport proper.

It is interesting that the local paper is publishing extensive information about parking at the airport. In addition to the major on- and off-airport locations, parking apps like SpotHero and Airport Parking Reservations are listed to help you navigate the parking around the LAX area.

Frequent travelers, like moi, have pretty much figured out the parking at the airport, but those who only travel at the worst time of the year, the holidays, need some help.

I love some of the sub heads – For those with more money than time and For those with more time than money. Park in the airport if you have more money than time, and park off airport if you have more time than money. There you go.

It should be noted that so-called “ride hailing services,” read that Uber and Lyft, are mentioned only in passing in the last paragraph. All the problems LAX has had with TNCs may just be scaring off customers.


I have been in a quandary these past few weeks. My car has turned 15 and has 170K on the clock. Traditionally it’s well past its shelf life and it’s time to look for a replacement. I have been extremely happy with the car – it’s a Lexus IS 300. I have had virtually no problems with it. I have done all the scheduled maintenance, replaced a bit here and a bob there as needed, and quite simply have loved the car.

So why not replace it with new IS? I went to the Lexus dealer and drove the supposed equivalent. It was “OK” but I didn’t feel the ‘buzz’ you are supposed to feel when you buy a new car.

The kid who road with me on the test drive told me that all the technology was actually built for drivers his age. Frankly, I’m not sure I would use all the tech nor did I care about it. The screen the size of a TV was fine for the onboard GPS mapping, but frankly, my phone seems to work just fine.

As I was sitting in the dealership waiting for credit reports and the ‘closer’ to arrive, I wasn’t comfortable. The price wasn’t as much of an issue as the fact that I really didn’t like the car that much more than the one I was driving.

When the ‘closer’ came back he knocked a few bucks off the MSRP and then added back twice that with extended warranty and maintenance programs. I asked why I needed the extended warranty since I had had such good luck with the car I was driving.

I was told that new cars have so much on board computing and technology that something was always going wrong and it was important to have the extended warranty. Huh? If that was true, then why get the new car anyway?

When I went out to pick up my car from the valet the dispatcher asked me if I wanted to sell it to him. He said that it was of an age where cars were really great and he had been looking for a good one. The valet asked me the same question.

I think I will correct a few cosmetic things, perhaps add a new radio with a backup camera included, and keep my old faithful a few more years. If the dealership doesn’t have confidence in the tech added to these new cars, should I?

Article contributed by:
John Van Horn
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