The Future of Parking Why Advocacy Matters!


The Future of Parking Why Advocacy Matters!

January 2024

On one of the happiest days of my professional life I had decided to celebrate by taking in a Foo Fighters concert and enjoying a night out with my lovely wife, Sarah. Little did I anticipate that night would mark the beginning of a new fight of my own for the future of our industry. This fight concerns all of us; as free flow systems become more prevalent, can we ensure their continued convenience by protecting our customers? 


No sooner had Dave Grohl taken the stage, than my phone started vibrating incessantly in my pocket. For anyone who has ever attended a rock concert, you know that it is not the best place to try to chat with someone, so I tried to ignore it… but it wouldn’t cease. Finally, I looked at my phone and noticed that all the calls and texts were mentioning the same headline from a parking media outlet… “This is why they hate us.” OOF! The air went out of me.


“This is Why They Hate Us”


We have all seen the articles: “Nashville drivers get high parking fines just for driving through parking lots,” “Denver responds to ‘predatory parking’ complaints,” “Private parking lots are going to have to be more transparent about fines.” But this one was different; it came from inside our industry.


In this situation someone had received a text for an unpaid parking session, with a link for payment. But rather than clicking the link to pay or dispute the charge, they had chosen to go to the press instead. To make matters worse, the industry has no unified response in these types of situations, so these news stories go out completely one sided. If a long time professional in our industry didn’t understand the situation, how could we ever expect the average consumer to understand?


After the initial wave of anger and frustration passed, I realized that as one of the people most involved in the evolution of private parking compliance for over 42 years, I was part of the problem. I could have done a better job of communicating, both inside and outside of our small knit community, about why the changes have happened and how they benefit both parking operators and consumers.


In my four decades in parking, we have progressed from towing, through barrels, boots and tickets, to arrive at our current point with free flow frictionless parking systems, where someone can be notified electronically in near real time of their lack of compliance and given an opportunity to make a payment for their parking without it becoming an enforcement situation. In other words, we are attaining the ultimate goal of making parking a non-event for the consumer.


Advocating for the Parking Industry


The victory I was celebrating was a win defending a statute I had placed into law over 20 years ago. Parking operators (including LAZ, International Parking Management, Premium, The Car Park, and many others) in my home state of Washington had come together to take on the state Department of Licensing. which had stripped the industry of motor vehicle registration information access to ensure consumer compliance. By joining together in a unified front, we were able to explain why this tool was critical to our industry, while at the same time, explaining how consumers’ privacy and rights were protected. Our victory never would have happened if we had not come together as one.


We find ourselves at a tipping point as the amount of information we have access to, and how we use it, has become a critical concern for our organizations and the constituencies we serve. We have an ethical responsibility towards our customers; while providing them with a seamless parking experience, we also have a duty to protect the data that enables that experience. 


We need to self-regulate to reign in the excesses of rogue members of the parking community before regulations are imposed upon us. I am reminded of the old adage ‘If you are not at the table, you are probably on the menu.’ In those instances where the industry has been involved, such as Florida and Washington State, common sense solutions that protect both private property rights, as well as consumers, have been implemented. In those instances where the industry has not been involved, loss of data access and outright bans have been the result.


Disparate members of our industry are currently involved in similar individual local battles in California, Colorado, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia (just to name a few) on issues ranging from motor vehicle record access, to regulation, to complete bans. There is a wealth of resources available in our industry that can be leveraged for the common good. There is no reason that martialing the same resources as we did in Washington can’t be done in all states.


Building a United Front


Coming together as a unified coalition in reaction to items including pending legislation and public relations is a great first step in getting out our message. Now is the time to pivot from reactive to proactive. As a coalition, we can set the narrative and take the lead by addressing items like best practices, certification, signage, privacy policies, LPR data retention, model legislation, public education initiatives and alternative dispute resolution. But this is only a thousand-word article and many of those topics could be articles on their own.


Enforcement Associates is taking the lead to make this change happen. We are currently working for parking positive regulations in three states and are actively looking to launch both advocacy and other mutually beneficial initiatives in several more. We are engaging with parking operators and technology companies to work together to show that the parking industry can regulate itself and play by the rules. If we show a unified front and prove we respect privacy rights and will abide by fair rules, it will be a lot harder for outside forces to put up barriers and try to shut us down. 


Join us in this movement! Ask your team what advocacy initiatives you have implemented internally. Find out what commitments your vendors have made to push this forward. Push the associations to create and implement an action plan to help us succeed. We all, even competitors, have to work together for this to succeed. When we accomplish our goals, we all benefit. 


In the words of Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” 


Craig Bagdon is President of Enforcement Associates. He can be reached at

Article contributed by:
Craig Bagdon, Enforcement Associates
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