Parking and the City


Parking and the City

“Many people think parking is like sex, if you have to pay for it it’s just not right.” This quote from Donald Shoup’s new book, Parking and the City, didn’t come from the hit HBO series of a similar name, Sex and the City, but it might have.

I’m having lunch with the parking rock star today at UCLA and I’ll ask him about the title. Is he try to titillate or be serious?  I think I know the answer. I have completed my read and review of the book. It will be published in the August PT. Here are a few tidbits:

Parking, which should be a policy discussion, quickly becomes an emotional one, turning, he says, “staunch conservatives into ardent communists.” “Thinking about parking,” he continues, “takes place in the reptilian cortex, the most primitive part of the brain.” The part of the brain that controls the fight or flight issue, that helps us decide how to eat dinner, and not be dinner.

Shoup’s style is easy to read and filled with his often-self-deprecating humor. When he speaks about Parking Requirements being a kluge, that is an awkward but temporarily effective solution to a problem, he adds the line “Microsoft users will easily understand this concept.”

“Parking Requirements may look scientific,” he continues, “but compared with the current science behind parking requirements, Scientology is a science and the Wizard of Oz is a scientist. Parking Requirements are a step up from astrology, but several steps short of the Farmer’s Almanac. They give pseudoscience a bad name.”

In his Epilogue, Shoup quotes Abraham Lincoln “As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew” and Dwight Eisenhower, “We – you and I – and our government -must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow.”

“Planning Professors,” Shoup continues, “rarely end a book or lecture with quotes from two Republican presidents, but I hope most people will agree their advice applies to the need for parking reforms.”

“Trying to reform you own city’s parking policies may feel like paddling a canoe to tow an aircraft carrier but if enough people paddle, the ship will move. I hope Parking and the City will encourage planners, politicians, and citizens to begin paddling. Reform depends on leadership from all of you.”

Lunch with Shoup is like a reverse interview. He’s more interested in what I have to say than vice versa. He says it’s how he learns what’s happening in the parking industry.  I’ll try to give him the straight poop.


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John Van Horn

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