Rain and Parking…The Horns of a Dilemma


Rain and Parking…The Horns of a Dilemma

We in LA are trending toward another dry year but a big storm is coming. Maybe a couple of inches – not a lot for you in Seattle, Houston, or Atlanta, but a gullywasher in Los Angeles. We need the water. What’s not to like?

We have had one of the worst fire seasons is recent memory. All the vegetation that would keep the hill sides where they belong is gone. This rain could bring tons of mud and rocks down on homes and businesses. They are even evacuating areas and it hasn’t started to rain yet.

So do you pray for rain, or a little rain, or no rain and hope the plants grow before it rains, but you need the rain to water the plants.

This problem reminds me of the dilemma the parking industry finds itself in today. We are told that any minute now the world will be overrun by automated vehicles and there will be no need for anything for 10% to 90% of parking space.

Almost with the same breath, we are told that these cars are one to three decades out and auto sales are booming. Plus cars are lasting longer (mine is 12 years old and running great, I can probably spend $1500 a year and keep it going another decade) and even though people are buying cars in record numbers, they aren’t junking the old ones. So we have this huge tsunami of cars that need to be driven and need to park.

Unfortunately parking structures aren’t something you can put up and tear down on a whim. They have a relatively long lead time, and once in place, the are there for half a century or more.

The dilemma: Do we build the infrastructure required for all these coming vehicles, or do we simply punt and wait it out? Do we react by half measure – build some garages and wait?

The problem with listening to pundits is that they all have an ax to grind. Elon Musk says automated vehicles are 18 months out, but he has missed every deadline he has set. Construction companies say build build build. Now what?

Why not use your common sense? The automobile industry seems to be focusing on electric vehicles, not automated ones (automated get the headlines, electric are on the assembly lines. They are disigning cars now that will be sold five to seven years from now and they aren’t AV.) That should tell us something.

If we focus on infrastructure now, it will help the economy, and if the world changes in 30 years, the older parking inventory can be phased out as necessary and we will have a crop of beautiful places to park our electric vehicles.

After all, when automated cars, mass transit, and teleporters replace self driving and parking, it won’t happen overnight. There will still be tens of millions of cars to park and a lot of time to deal with them.

The rains are coming in six hours, that’s the problem for LA. The change of an industry is coming in a generation. Let’s deal with it as it happens. Panic is good for mud slides, for long term planning, not so much.



Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. John,
    Over 30 years ago the mobile phone became commercial, while today households remain with approximately 4X % still having landlines. Technology evolution and with wide-spread acceptance takes time from high-tech development to high-touch adoption.

    Enjoyed your blog – stay dry!

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