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Well, Maybe not Everyone is opposed to Bridgeport Meters

I read Paul’s post below about new meters in Bridgeport with interest, and when written it was correct. It seems everyone in Bridgeport, CT was panning the new parking meters in the city. It seems that some of the merchants may be on the side of more consistent parking enforcement, read about it here.

These business people understand that fair, consistent parking enforcement means more spaces available for parkers, more customers, more business. Free parking means that employees take the spaces, people have no place to park, and less business.

But if there is any villain in this piece its the city government of Bridgeport, who sprung the meters on the unsuspecting citizens with little or no pre install publicity, no changes in the civic codes to meet the requirements of the new citation process, no support for a beleaguered sheriff whose job adjudicating protested citations went from 20 a month to 250, and most importantly, not getting the stakeholders (merchants, citizens, equipment suppliers) all on the same team.

Paul’s synopsis is a jewel:

My synopsis: city suggests meters; residents object. City installs meters; city forgets to educate residents and hire appeals staff. Sheriff takes heat for aggressive ticketing and slow appeals process; sheriff gets slammed by prominent resident; sheriff decides he’s not putting up with that crap anymore. City looks foolish. Mayor and city council members start to fear for their ratings; mayor and city council members start backpedaling.

The solution, if there is one, is for the city government to suck it up and start over. Place a six month moratorium on citations (give warnings) and begin the process over.  Pass the proper ordinances, hire support for the appeals process, begin an education program on how the systems works and why its good for everyone, hold meetings with all those for and against to clear the air, get ‘ambassadors’ on the street to explain the program, invest in signage that explains everything.  Then when the warnings drop to a manageable number, start giving citations.

But these folks are politicians. That’ll never happen. Look at how congress is attacking health care and tax reform. Too many agendas, too many up for reelection, too much politics.

Just Sayin


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Grand Rapids Lowers Fees for Parking App

It’s unusual for cities to lower prices for parking and services. I know those numbers have only gone up in my town. Parking meter fees have tripled, and prices for city classes and amenities have increased by 30 percent. So it’s heartwarming to read about a city that shares savings with its residents.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, fox17online.com reports that convenience fees for Parkmobile app users will go down by 20 cents. That’s a good amount of money considering meter prices in the city range from one dollar to $1.75 per hour.

Parkmobile and the City of Grand Rapids created a new contract that will cut the convenience fee by approximately 43 percent, reducing the price from 35 cents to 15 cents.

It would be pretty easy for Grand Rapids to renegotiate a lower convenience fee and keep the difference – residents aren’t going to know anything’s changed unless you tell them. And people who like the ease of parking by smart phone applications don’t usually object to convenience fees.

Maybe Grand Rapids is hoping lower fees will attract more users, but regardless of the reason, it’s good karma to share the joy of lower prices with everyone.

Read the article here.

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Municipal Parking Meter Drama Plays Out Politely

One of my hobbies is to read news articles other people write and wonder what the sources didn’t share. Municipal leaders and staff are careful what they say to reporters, because a slip of the tongue can cost them their jobs and/or their reputations. When they talk to a reporter they are as diplomatic and noncommittal as they can be – I don’t blame them. But I entertain myself thinking about the details they aren’t sharing.

In Bridgeport, Connecticut, ctpost.com reports that new camera-equipped parking meters have created a logjam of parking appeals that the local sheriff can’t process unless he stops doing everything else in his job description. The sheriff is not pleased.

Michael Moretti, the elected sheriff appointed by Mayor Joseph Ganim as a hearing officer, denied he quit. “I haven’t decided that yet,” Moretti said. He does want help.

Moretti has been handling appeals on a voluntary basis and he’s taken some hard hits for his efforts. The article suggests the uptick in appeals might have been inspired by a community activist and retired superior court judge named Carmen Lopez. Lopez appealed a ticket earlier this year and while attracting publicity for her cause stated that Moretti had not been appointed properly.

Nobody has been happy with the meters. They have met with resistance every step of the way. Bridgeport leaders have already decreased meter fines from $40 to $20, as well as offering free Saturdays and longer grace periods, in response to criticism.

The mayor’s office has announced appeals hearings will start up again in August and there are discussions about appointing more hearing officers. As city council members talk about going back to old-school parking enforcement, the city is on the defensive to such a degree that they are already adding up the costs of scrapping the meters entirely: $457,000 a year.

My synopsis: city suggests meters; residents object. City installs meters; city forgets to educate residents and hire appeals staff. Sheriff takes heat for aggressive ticketing and slow appeals process; sheriff gets slammed by prominent resident; sheriff decides he’s not putting up with that crap anymore. City looks foolish. Mayor and city council members start to fear for their ratings; mayor and city council members start backpedaling.

That’s just me reading between the lines, though.

Read the article here.

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What’s Under Parking Today Media’s Hat?

The NPA Conference and Expo in Palm Springs – October 2-5

Drop by booth 225  and meet with JVH, Eric, Astrid, and Marcy

We will talk parking!!! For more info Click Here

The August issue of Parking Today

Smart Parking, Smart Cities, How is Ohio State doing after privatization,

Plus parking wisdom from Peter, Jeff, Kathleen, Melissa, and JVH

PIE 2018 is Open for Business

The exhibit Hall floor is half sold — Click here

PIE 2018 is the Premiere Parking Event of 2018

Don’t miss out

Parknews.biz is better than Ever

Check out what’s happening in Parking with the Number One

Aggregator site on the web. www.parknews.biz


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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Smart Cities

I was most impressed with one story I heard at the Smart Cities Connect confab in Austin. It brought to mind Walt Disney’s Fantasia and Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. For those of you who remember the cute little rodent who worked for the Sorcerer. The boss left him in charge, and who could resist putting on that pointy hat and picking up the magic wand.

Mickey was supposed to carry water but he found that with a few ‘waves’ of the wand, he could get the broom to carry the water without him having to break into a sweat. Of course all hell breaks loose as the brooms bring more and more water and begin to flood the castle. Mickey can’t stop the onslaught, and is swept up in the tsunami. The Sorcerer arrives in the nick of time and saves the day and a chastened mouse goes back to what he does best.

Oh yes, the story. It seems that an electricity supplier for a major city in the Northeast had a data collection operation going on. When it began a couple of decades ago, they were collecting a gigabyte of data a year. Time passed and they began to install sensors throughout their network. Today they collect a gigabyte every thirty minutes.

Is it possible to be able to actually use that nearly 18 terabytes of raw data? Who is the sorcerer and what kind of magic wand is going to be used?  And keep in mind that the data equaling 18 terabytes was from the electric company alone. What happens when you add in streets, trash collection, lights, traffic signals, police, fire, CCTV cameras, and the rest.

It seems to me that the collection of the data is the easy part. The big job is the processing of the data into something usable.  To do that you first have to know what your goal is, and how the data will help you reach it. Then you can perhaps process the data in such a way that it makes sense.

The parking folks know about what they need for parking, the water and power folks know what they need, as to the street, police, fire, and trash departments. Who knows enough to pull all that data together and make sense from it?

I”m not saying it can’t be done. I just think that this is where the focus needs to be.


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Will we be Carless in a “Smart City?”

A week or so ago I had the privilege of attending the “Smart Cities Connect” event in Austin, TX. After spending a couple of days with the movers and shakers of “Smart Cities”, I realized that I’m not sure what to think.

First of all, I’m in the parking business.  At this event, attended by a large number of cities focused on “Smart,” some of which actually took exhibitor space to promote their “Smartness,” there was no mention of “Parking.”  Well, that’s not quite true, in the program, there were directions as to where to park at the Austin Convention Center.

I did attend one session on “mobility” where two of the panelists were from parking vendors, ParkiFi and Cale.  They were the only parking related companies at the entire event.  At this session I created a furor when I asked “Why parking isn’t a topic for discussion in the “Smart Cities” genre.  I was told on no uncertain terms that they “Loved Parking, ” that “Parking was sexy,” and the like. I told the moderator that there was no need to be defensive, but that I thought that since virtually everyone living in a city had parking on their agenda, it would seem logical that a so called “Smart City” would have it on its agenda too.

I walked into the city of Portland’s booth and asked about their “Smart Parking” component and was told in no uncertain terms that parking wasn’t in their wheel house since the goal was to remove cars, and hence parking, from the city.Move along please, there is nothing to see here.

I began thinking about agendas, and just what the long term agenda of cities trying to become smart actually was. Was it to make the city more livable? Was it to enable the city government to save money by using data to run their operation more effectively? Or was it to redesign the city in the vision of those who had such a vision?

I then read an article by Astrid that we will print in the August Edition of Parking Today where she posits that perhaps rather than focusing on the technology portion of “Smart Cities” that perhaps we should deal in the residents of cities and become “conscious” rather than ‘Smart”.  Her summary:

Perhaps it is time for us to all pause and put people first and technology that serves them second.  In parking, transit, urban planning, it is time for us to look within, engage and listen, thus creating conscious, emotionally intelligent cities and not just cold mechanical smart cities.

I got the feeling at the “Smart Cities Connect” conference, that everyone had an agenda, and few were actually listening to the people in the city. The Exhibitors want to sell gizmos that would find and collect data, the consultants wanted to help cities select the ‘right’ gizmo, and the cities wanted to show off their ‘smartness.’

Let’s face it, delivering electricity and water and lighting services along with more efficient trash collection isn’t really going to make a heck of a lot of difference to me as a resident. I get lights now, I will have lights later. What will make a difference is how I can streamline the parking of my car.

The smart city crowd wants to do away with my car. But have they asked me what I want to do with it?  Probably not.



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July 4, 1776

Thomas Jefferson wrote these words nearly two and a half centuries ago.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

If you like, you can see each sentence explained here.

The words seem to me to be self evident. Jefferson, like the other signers of the Declaration, were wealthy, landed, comfortable men. But they came together to pledge their “Lives, Fortunes, and Sacred Honor,” to risk everything, to begin an experiment that has lasted until today.

Perfect? No. No more perfect than the humans that created it. But it seems that its the best there is. When we pledge ourselves and fight and die, we are sometimes right, and sometimes wrong. But as General Mark Clark said at Normandy after WWII:


Jefferson et al had no idea what they were starting. But I think they would be proud of what, warts and all, has remained today. They created a crucible where great ideas could be forged, where morals and leadership could grow, where anyone, yes anyone, if they work hard and persevere can prosper and find that happiness.

Happy Birthday America — Many happy returns.




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Philadelphia Parking Hog Making Neighbors Crazy

I knew “savesies” was a thing during winter months, but somebody in Philadelphia takes it pretty seriously year round, according to billypen.com. After 7 or 8 years of illegally saving his parking spot using chairs, trash cans and other items, the unnamed resident of the 2200-block of E. Susquehanna in Fishtown has enough tickets to require a lien on his house, say police.

As our tipster, who shall remain anonymous, explained, “Every single person within a couple blocks knows it. We all complain about it constantly.”

If people are resorting to extreme measures like these, it’s clear there is a parking problem in the neighborhood. It’s also clear Mr. Unnamed is a pretty large jerk. He’s gone so far that neighbors take down his “savesies” items just to be mean and others give away his saved spot to other people just for fun. There’s nothing clear in the article about whether Mr. Unnamed has a vicious or vengeful streak, so maybe no one has fears of repercussion for these acts. But it was stated that he has made comments about his ability to control the police and deal with neighbors who complain about his practices.

“A week or two later,” said our tipster, “and the guy that does this said, ‘So do you have a problem with my cones?’ He said, ‘Listen, I took care of the cops. I’ll take care of you, too.’”

I’m curious if the neighbors who complain constantly would rather spend their time applying for parking permits. Billypen.com isn’t a real news site, so it can quote anonymous sources and call them tipsters. It also quotes “the police’ without offering any names so as far as I can tell it’s an article about nobody instigated by nobody and conformed by nobody – though still interesting.

There are enough parking shenanigans going on in the area that the website has a page called The Week in Parking. Possibly a good read for anyone working in parking in that area because without the constraints of ethical journalism standards, Billypen is like the TMZ of parking in Philadelphia. That said, I only read the one article.

Visit billypen.com’s Week in Parking page here.  According to its website: “Billy Penn is a mobile-first platform designed to connect citizens to relevant news and information about Philadelphia, and to drive civic engagement via affinity groups and events.”

Read the article and see photos here.

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Hong Kong Resident Pays $664,000 for Parking Space

Extreme real estate conditions in Hong Kong have lead to the sale of a private parking spot for $664,000.  The parking spot, located in Upton, a residential high-rise, is 188 square feet, reports South China Morning Post, scmp.com. The buyer is a man named Kwan Wai-ming, who works as executive director of Huarong Investment stock Corp. This is Kan Wai-ming’s third parking spot in the building.

Lots of comparisons have been made as to what other kinds of property can be bought for that price: 1-bedroom apartments in New York; three-bedroom condos in Chicago, and so on. Other, more worthwhile, analysis examines how the buyer justifies this extravagance. Still other commentary addresses how real estate trends will affect people in the future. Prices for apartments in the building go for $40 to $70 million, reports architecturaldigest.com.

The soaring of property values has left many government officials concerned for the younger residents of Hong Kong, and if they will be able to afford living in their native land.

Those of us with regular amounts of money can’t imagine spending that amount on parking because 1. we don’t have the cash; and 2. not having cash makes that kind of expenditure seem outrageous, maybe even immoral, and wasteful. I can’t answer for anyone else, but I know that if I had billions to spend, $664,000 wouldn’t seem like a big deal. But I hope I’d still see it the way I do now: you can feed a lot of people with $664,000. I’m happy to be a guinea pig in research on the attitudes of the ultra-wealthy, however, if anybody feels like investing in a test of my self-righteousness.

Read the scmp.com article here.

Read the architecturaldigest.com article here.

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I Want to Drive my Own Car

John Van Horn’s got a lot to say about autonomous vehicles lately, and I’m going to take that as an invitation to explore the topic myself.

You never want to be an old fart when the subject of new technology comes up. We all know people who refuse to text, can’t work a smart phone and are afraid every key on their keyboard is a self-destruct button. I’m not an early adapter myself, but I try. When it comes to autonomous cars I’m still at the stage where I want nothing to do with them. I’d agree to be in the same room as one, but I don’t want to be on the road with any of them.

I’m not part of the parking industry as anything but a parker and a commentator, so I don’t have expert opinions on the progress of the autonomous vehicle or how it will change our world. I just have my own middle-aged views that cause me to mistrust machines.

Have you ever put the wrong kind of soap in your dishwasher? It’s a bubble festival. Have you ever loaded your washing machine wrong? Those things will take a trip across the room. Have you ever put hot liquids on a blender? Don’t do it – unless you want to be cleaning cream of mushroom soup off your ceiling for days.

Have you ever neglected your tires or run low on gas? Driven with shredded windshield wipers or ignored a warning light on your dash? I’m going to guess most of us do these things at one time or another.

Regardless of how well autonomous cars drive themselves, they will still be maintained by humans. I’d like to know how they are going to behave when humans make the mistakes they will inevitably make while programming them, servicing them and even sitting in them.

Not too long ago I read a book called Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon, by Craig Nelson. One of the things I remember most is that putting people on the moon was accomplished, in part, through the power of redundant systems. Without knowing if or how or when technical issues would arise, every system on Apollo 11 had multiple back ups.  The other thing I remember is that the book stated that current space flight would never be conducted at the same known rate of risk as early missions.

I might be reaching a bit, but the potential for loss of life on a busy highway is pretty high. It’s not space flight, but for the risks involved, it might as well be.

It has long been my policy to avoid new technology until it has been thoroughly tested by other consumers. That’s one reason I don’t own a fiery Galaxy note 7 – also, I prefer Apple products. I don’t buy a car that’s the first model year of a redesign; I don’t try a restaurant until it’s been open a couple of months; and I wait to buy things like hover boards until they’ve been out long enough to know which ones are best. Sounds selfish, but I call it self preservation.

The makers of autonomous cars will be addressing safety issues for a very long time after they’ve created the technology for a car that drives itself. The costs will be high and the risks will be higher. I want to embrace the idea of the car/chauffeur, but I’m not willing to be the guinea pig or the monkey riding in the backseat while the kinks get worked out.

Read more about autonomous cars here.


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