It’s the Uncertainty


It’s the Uncertainty

Why did the economy stall and stumble during the Obama years and yet take off like a rocket upon Trump’s election. Many wags say that it’s the uncertainty factor.

That is, if businesses know what is coming down the pike, they can factor that in to their plans and press on. That is they can hire, set prices, develop new products and carry on, ie they know what is going to happen. During the past adminstration, the future was seemingly unknowable. The government was passing rules and regulations by the hundreds without benefit of congress, and its review process. Business didn’t know from one day to the next what was going to happen. So instead of investment, hiring, new products, and etc, it punted.

For good or bad, today business seems to understand that those rules are being revoked, new ones are not on the horizon, and business is being left alone to do what it does best — create jobs, build factories, and make money. There is a ‘feeling’ that they know what is going to happen. Politics aside.

I wonder if this isn’t what is happening in our industry. We just don’t know. We are uncertain.

At PIE last year, and at the NPA conference in October, the seminars that were jammed were the ones that attempted to see the future. Should we build new garages, or get by with existing ones.  OK there are going to be more vehicles in the next couple of years, but how about beyond that. Autonomous vehicles are coming, but how will they affect parking. Some say they will do away with the need for parking. others say its not realistic to believe that. We are trapped in the middle of the uncertaintly factor.

What to do, what to do?

All the soothsayers are confused. Some say believe the technocrats. Apple, Microsoft, Google, and GM are all saying that the future is encased in silicon and we just have to get with the program. Others say that relying on technology brings the end of time.

Years ago Malthus and Erlich told us that the world was close to ending. Overpopulation would mean dying by the millions, starvation, and the end of life as we know it. Yet, here we are, centurys later, and there are more people, but fewer starving. More people living above the poverty level world wide. How can the experts be so wrong?

They forgot to factor in the resiliance of the human spirit. People left to their own devices will solve problems and make things better. So what does this have to do with parking?

I was told by a mentor to trust my own instincts. I fly over America and see nothing but open space — A lot of places for people to live and prosper. I go into Costco and can’t get down the aisles for all the ‘stuff’ that makes lives easier. I drive 40 miles through my city and see store after store filled with commerce. People shopping and taking home ‘stuff’ they want.

People tell me shopping centers are closing, and I’m sure some are, but Westfield and GGP are spending billions refurbising and opening new ones. Are they stupid? I think not. The new centers aren’t just for shopping, but are for entertainment. They are mini Disneylands where family’s go to play, see new ‘stuff’, watch a movie, and enjoy their time off. Oh and they spend money, too. These companies are reinventing the way people shop. They understand that people may buy a lot on line, but they still want to see what they are buying. And they want to be entertained while they do it.

My mentor told me to look out the window and see what there was to see. To dream about what is possible, and then do it.

Areas where people want to go are becoming congested — shopping areas, entertainment areas, sports venues, and the like. Why not build parking structures a few minutes away, convenient to freeways and large streets, then have shuttles that take you the last mile. I would ride that in a heart beat.

Make it faster and easier to park, and I’m there. Use that technology to solve the problems, not create new ones.

If we can develop apps that make Uber and Lyft work, why not apps that make carpooling work. It wouldn’t take many users to greatly reduce traffic during rush hour.

Like Westfield in Century City, give people choices. There are half a dozen ways to park, ways to pay, ways to enter and exit. They didn’t have the arrogance to say one size fits all, but said “what do you want” and then provided it.

I understand that Uber has worked out a deal with parking operators in Chicago to store their cars when they are not being used. Who would have thunk it.

There are five ideas I had just looking out my window. What if someone who knew what they were talking about looked out their window.

We need to embrace the uncertainty factor. Go with ideas that fix problems. Ask people what they want and give it to them. Don’t think outside the box, throw it away. Ignore the soothsayers, they are always wrong.

You only have to be right a tad over half the time and all is right with the world.



John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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