Parking, Parking Everywhere
The holidays and the end of the year are prime time for evaluating life, priorities and goals. Sometime around October, people around me started talking about how 2019 would be the last time a lot of us spent a decade in the teens. I don’t know what’s more sobering than that thought, but I decided not to let it get to me. I am looking forward to the 20s.
In terms of parking, it’s also a good time to consider the way the industry is trending. A few news items, in particular, caught my eye lately. One was the sale of a parking space in Hong Kong for almost a million dollars.
It’s true. A 135-square-foot spot in front of The Center office tower sold for $969,000. The previous record-holder for a parking space sold in Hong Kong was $760,000. The city is expensive for people and their cars.
Another piece of news I found interesting was a change in policy at LAX that went so badly people’s brains spontaneously combusted, cars turned to dust, and two-year old children swore in full sentences. Maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it was pretty bad.
What happened is LAX banned rideshare vehicles from its curbs and attempted to re-position drop offs and long-term parking. The intent was to control and decrease traffic around the airport, but phase one was an orientation in parking insanity.
People waited two hours for an Uber. Some sat in traffic for so long, they eventually asked their shuttle drivers to let them off in the middle of the street so they could walk the rest of the way. Twitter users compared the experience to Coachella and called it chaos, a disaster, useless trash, and every four-letter word that exists.
Even airport officials admitted things didn’t quite go as they had hoped. Leaders at Uber and Lyft had a lot to say, but they kept it professional.
In what could have been an actual disaster, a lightning strike in the parking lot of a Fort Worth, Texas gas station left a crater in the concrete. Debris flew as far as 75 feet away and a diesel tank was nicked, but, fortunately for everyone, the fumes did not ignite. The whole thing was caught on surveillance cameras.
Just another one of those times when security cameras in a parking lot did us all a favor. We get to be entertained by the footage and no one has to wonder what kind of terrorism punched a 15-by-15-foot hole in 6 inches of concrete at a Chevron station at the intersection of Shadydell Drive and Boat Club Road.
Out in Illinois, lawmakers passed legislation called the License to Work Act to end license suspensions for a list of non-moving violations that includes unpaid parking tickets. It was decided that suspending driving privileges is overly punitive because it prevents people from getting to work to earn money to pay off their debts. This makes sense in terms of driving, but not parking.
Parking issues have the power to immobilize thousands.
It’s going to be harder to enforce parking laws without strong incentives. It seems like consequences need to be applied at the front end of the infraction, instead of at the end.
And finally, on the subject of self-driving cars, recent developments have revealed that the parking lot is one of the harder places for autonomous cars to function. It has been reported/shared on social media that Teslas can’t tell the difference between grass and asphalt.
Other revelations include the fact that autonomous vehicles get confused in parking structures when their GPS signals get weak. And the cars are overwhelmed by all the inconsistent factors in a parking lot such as people, carts, light posts and bollards. There is talk of the need for lasers.
The point of all this commentary is simple: if you consider the news in general, parking is enormously important.
Parking is so essential, that in some places, people will spend a literal fortune to secure it. Parking issues have the power to immobilize thousands. Parking regulations are one of the hardest things to enforce – and getting harder, some might say, so innovation is the next step. And difficulties with parking could be a deal breaker, for a while, in the development of the smart car. (The lightning strike was just a fun story.)
Be of good cheer – it’s a good time to be part of the parking industry.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah