The Temecula Group


The Temecula Group

Three years ago I asked about 20 professional parking friends to join me at a little retreat in Temecula. (That’s a town located about half way between LA and San Diego, about 30 miles inland. Its in an area known as Southern California’s wine country.)

The idea of the group was to get together and talk about parking stuff. That was and is the entire concept. Talk.  The first year I felt like I was at the Korean War Peace Talks. We spent most of the time trying to come up with a name (like they spent months discussing the shape of the table). However the group did discuss some issues — the main one being — how to attract more college educated people to the parking profession.

We felt in general that the problem was many faceted. First, the public image of parking was negative. Just think of the look on people’s faces when you tell them you are in the parking business. Its like you said your livelihood comes from selling lemonade in the front yard — when are you going to get a real job?

Second, it was salaries — We have done a very unscientific poll here at PT Blog and find that people who run garages that gross over a million dollars a year receive salaries in the $40,000 a year range…

Third, it was professional training. To build a profession, you need to have a mechanism to train its members in an ongoing fashion (like lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers, scientists, and the like.) This way, when people grow in the profession, they have a mechanism though which to gain knowledge in some other way than just job experience.

We were critical of the two organizations, mostly for not being inclusive. There are, at anyones count, 1,000,000 people parking cars at all levels in the US.  However take the two organizations and there are only maybe 3,500 members in both. Total. That little fact aside, We felt that it should be in the charter of one or the other of the two groups to be the spokespersons for Parking. They have the organization, the infrastructure and the money to provide positive news releases, public relations, and coverage of the  good side of parking, not just PR about their activities or meetings.

The first meeting ended with the creation of a presentation that begins to tell the parking story. I have given it to civic groups, regional association meetings and to anyone who will listen over the past couple of years, — a number of the members of the group have done the same.

The second meeting was a bit more focused, and we decided on a name, be default. I guess if conferences can be named after a city "Davos, Oslo, Jackson Hole" why not Temecula. — The result of the second meeting was a white paper that made some suggestions that the two parking organizations might use to reach out to the parking community and expand their impact. We provided the paper to the boards of the two national organizations, offered our expertise and advice, and as we expected, received no response. Perhaps we should have sent it return receipt requested. 

What’s germane about this post? — This weekend is Temecula group number three.  I’ll report on our discussions, in summary.  It can get heated.  The members of this group are passionate about their profession. We are finding after the publication of Don Shoups book that parking may have a far larger affect on society than just enabling you to get to your doctor on time. 

Oh, who are the members? — they are people I know in the parking business.  If I know you and you haven’t been invited, don’t feel slighted. We decided to keep the group small. Most are people I have know for more than 15 years.  This year there are a couple who have been invited on the recommendation of the group as a whole.  We have asked representatives from the two groups and have no formal response, although all of us are members of either one or the other, and at least two sit on their boards.

These are active people in the parking business. Their frustration is that they are people who like to get things done, and the idea of coming up with ideas and then not acting on them is anathema. But they all have day jobs, most owning their own companies or being heads of very large parking or vendor organizations.

I hope this year will be pivotal. We can discuss frustrating topics, but we can also try again to determine what can affect an entrepreneurial and dynamic industry that is a combination of service, construction, technology and has such a large impact on our mobile society.

I guess that the group could be accused of not being inclusive. Guilty as charged. But that’s not what this parking think tank is all about.  We want to be free to speak our minds. Oh yes, this year we invited a number of guests to join us for one part of the meeting. They will bring, we hope, some challenges to us and serve as a resource. 

Frankly, I don’t know how you get invited. If you know someone who attends the group ask them.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. I have only been around the parking industry for a couple of years, but what I see is the biggest problem is link between property owners and the parties running the garage or account. I park daily in garage built less than 3 years ago with an outdated ticket system that is slow, and only works sometimes. I have been let out of the garage on many days free, because the system is down. I can imagine with just the revenue lost they could afford a new system, but the current garage operator will just continue to try to patch the problem. MPL

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