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Pizza for Parking

I’ll do a lot for a good slice of pizza – and pretty much any pizza is good pizza. I like thin crust and thick crust, New York style, Chicago style, plain cheese, combo, pepperoni, and even the fancy stuff with salad on top. I do not discriminate.

Some parking enforcement officers in Salt Lake City, Utah will do a lot for pizza, too. They didn’t sell their souls or anything, but they took free pizza as a trade for parking. Now they’ve lost their jobs. According to usnews.com, several Salt Lake officers accepted pizza from a local pizza place for refraining from writing tickets or voiding tickets already written to the restaurant’s owners and employees. Lots of pizza exchanged hands. There is no word on toppings.

Officer Jeff Clegg admitted to the improper conduct and turned in his fellow officers. He said the exchanges went on for two years. The restaurant owner denies the scheme.

Clegg estimates that the officers could have written three parking tickets a day for the pizzeria, meaning as much as $19,000 in fines wasn’t collected.

I’d like to imagine these officers didn’t intend to steal thousands of dollars from their city. Maybe one afternoon they got a free slice just for being in the neighborhood and then going easy on tickets seemed like a nice way to return the favor. I don’t know who’s dumb enough to verbalize an arrangement like this.

Just goes to show how easy it is to be an officer of the law one day and a criminal the next. And all for a slice of pizza.

Read the article here.

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Going In…

I’m leaving in a few minutes for my second cataract surgery. I had the first one last week.  Let me tell you. If your optometrist says you have cataracts and should have them replaced, run don’t walk to the ophthalmologist and get it done.

Although there are a couple of weeks of testing, expensive machines, eye drops forever and visits to the doctor’s office, the actual surgery takes about 15 minutes.  And you can see the results instantly. Everyone is different, but my eyesight was 20/500 in my right eye, its now 20/25. In my case, I was never under complete anesthesia. The anesthetist held my hand during the procedure. It’s OK, he was kinda cute. I think they gave me a bit of valium, but I’m not even sure about that.

30 years ago the procedure was done with sandbags placed around your head and a recovery that lasted for months.  Today, depending on what the doctor says, you can drive the next day. Its stunning.

As she sat across the desk from me the day after the surgery, I told the doctor that with my right eye, her coat was white. With my left one, it was yellow. She just smiled. Colors are brighter, your night vision is super, all that ‘flair’ around street lights is gone, the world looks as it should.

I know that many are uncomfortable with people getting near their eyes. My recommendation, suck it up and have it done. If your results are like mine, you will be thrilled.

Everyone is different. My first recommendation, don’t listen to people like me. Go to the doctor, listen carefully to what they say, and then make your decision. I hope you are as delighted as I am.


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Terrorists, NCIS, and Teslas

I was watching NCIS New Orleans this week and the good guys were chasing the bad guy (who happened to be a cyber terrorist) through the streets of the Big Easy. The bad guy told his driver to keep going as he was keyboarding away on his laptop. Then he hit ‘return.’ The NCIS SUV stopped dead in the street, quickly surrounded by honking cars. The bad guy drove safely away.

According to our keynote speaker at PIE this March, Akshay Pottathil, this isn’t fiction, its fact. Today.

My first click this morning was on parknews.biz and an article on Terrorists using self driving Teslas to destroy our infrastructure. Find it here.  Here’s the first graph:

It’s a calm Saturday morning in August of next year. Suddenly, across the nation, 12,000 Tesla Model S sedans start up at the same time. They engage Tesla’s vaunted autopilot feature and head out onto the road. Some of them make their way to local gas stations. Some to electrical substations. And then, as they approach, they accelerate to top speed. The explosions are fantastic as the Model S batteries rupture and spark fires, which ignite anything flammable in the area. The power grid in the Los Angeles area is brought down almost immediately. Hundreds of fires rage. America is under attack. This might sound like science fiction. It’s not.

The author, Zack Aysan, is a computer security expert. He spends three quarters of the article telling us how this could happen, then a quarter with advice on how it could be prevented, maybe. He posits that governments cold pass regulations to ensure that security was perfect on self driving vehicles. He then gets into eyes glaze over territory explaining how these critters could be made secure from hacking.

My mentor spent a lot of time drilling into me the fact that if you believe you cannot be hacked, then you are telling yourself there is no one smarter than you on the planet. That’s a bad bet.

This could, of course, happen to airliners. But there are pilots there to shut down the computer and grab control if something like this should happen. (Remember being an airline pilot is 99% boredom, 1% terror.)

According to Aysan, there are no considerations or even discussions of this problem either at the manufacturing level or the governmental level. His question: will they wait until something bad happens? And then take steps.

I think we know the answer to that.


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Take Parking Today Media With You Everywhere

Take us with you.

Put Parknews.biz, Parking Today, and People in Parking on your Smart phone home page.

You will be able to receive

  • Daily parking news (Parknews.biz)
  • Blogs and News Features (Parking Today)
  • Find People or Companies in the Industry (People in Parking)

all on your personal smart phone. To download the icons and links, click here. It’s easy and FREE!!!

Why not have your parking phone directory on your smart phone? Just click on the icon, enter the person’s name, and VOILA their phone number and company appears. Don’t remember a name – enter the company and a list of employees appears. Plus, once you get their name, you can send them a personal email. All from the People in Parking App.

Musing over lunch on what is happening in your parking world? Click on the Parknews.biz app. The result is designed for the smart phone and you can read articles that are as fresh as today. We update them daily, with more than 20 new stories every day. New employees, new installations, new parking solutions. Its all there on the Parknews.biz App.

Wonder what I’m thinking about? Read my blog. My news year’s resolve is to have a new one every work day. See if I keep my word. Plus read every story ever printed in Parking Today, and the current issue, weeks before its delivered. Want to check your schedule, PT’s calendar is the most complete in the industry. Find it all on the Parking Today App.

Complete, easy, and fast instructions are here for both iPhone and Android. What are you waiting for?



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Who to Believe – A headline, or your lying eyes

As Super Bowl approaches, worries grow about

downtown Minneapolis parking

That’s the headline. Here’s the take aways from the story printed in the local paper:

But local officials say there’s no need for worry. Many people, they figure, will rely on public transportation or use a ride-sharing app like Uber and Lyft.

And with thousands of car spaces downtown, there should be enough parking to go around, officials say.

Minneapolis officials said an estimated 65,000 spots will be available to visitors, of which roughly 4,000 are city-owned metered spaces and about 40,000 are in privately owned ramps and lots. No estimates were available for how many more cars, trucks and SUVs will be around for the game.

Sensing the potential parking shortage, some downtown businesses have given workers the option of working from home during Super Bowl week.

The Host Committee said there will be plenty of parking, but some visitors heading downtown may have to choose from a “number of transportation options ranging from Metro Transit, to park-and-rides, to ride shares.”

The media just can’t stand it. A headline like:

Parking Not Seen to be a Problem as

Super Bowl Approaches Downtown

Just won’t hack it. They are stopped by their DNA from calm realistic headlines. But then who can blame them. The public wants to see mayhem and horror. Who are the media to keep them from it?

A few years ago the department of transportation closed the 405 freeway in Los Angeles for an entire weekend. “Carmaggedon” the headlines screamed for weeks. Reality – it was the most traffic quiet weekend in LA history. People just elected to stay home.

So what’s the point?  It is what it is.

My take is that we must see the media for what it is. A for profit enterprise that must maximize the extremes of any story. Whether its parking at the Super Bowl or the coming of electric or autonomous vehicles, the stories are blown out of all proportion.

So where do you get good information about the future. I say you cannot. You must rely on common sense and your two good eyes.


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Definition of “smart”, according to Webster

1 : making one smart : causing a sharp stinging

2 : marked by often sharp forceful activity or vigorous strength

3 : brisk, spirited

4 : mentally alert : bright

5:  knowledgeable, shrewd

6: witty, clever, pert, saucy

7: neat, trim, stylish or elegant in dress or appearance

8: characteristic of or patronized by fashionable society

9: operating by automation

10:  using a built-in microprocessor for automatic operation, for processing of data, or for achieving greater versatility


Interesting, Isn’t it. The definition that we would immediately go to when describing smart parking or cities, is the tenth listed by the dictionary. Is this because of our lack of knowledge in English, or is it because we are jumping to a conclusion fed to us by the technocrats?

Wags like me go with door number two. We are led to believe, by our betters, that “smart” means putting all the technology we can find in place to solve our management and commercial problems. And once we do that, we are golden.

I beg to differ.

What if the definition we use was numbers 2,3,4 and 5? What if we used our own brains, not ones supplied by definition number 10, to determine just what we wanted in our parking operation, or in our city, or in our schools, or …..

Let’s face it. Technology manufacturers have no clue what we want to accomplish in our respective businesses.  A university may want to ensure that its parking systems is fair and that students and faculty get to class on time, a hospital may want to have a program that helps patients and visitors during times when they are in great stress. A shopping center may want to get people in the mood to shop and spend money. An office building may want to maximize parking space and thus profits, a municipality may want to protect a resource while changing the way parkers act. Is there any way technology can do all that?

Of course not. Like a farmer, first we have to decide where we are going to plant. Then decide what crop best fits the location, and the market. Then find the funding to make it all happen, and THEN, select the right tools and get to work.

When we think of “Smart Parking” we instantly think of electrons flowing through silicon. Of cell phones, of high tech payment schemes, of data collection, of license plate recognition.

Would it serve us better to consider what we were trying to accomplish with cell phones, data, payment, and lpr and THEN begin to search for the tools that will help us accomplish our goals, be they smart or dumb.

Let’s determine what we want to plant, and then hop on the tractor.


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CES and Self Driving Cars — Will It Play in Peoria?

Reports are coming in from Las Vegas and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that self driving vehicles have overwhelmed the floor. Every auto manufacturer, computer chip manufacturer, and software provider has its toe in the water.

One wag, however, seemed to have been struck with a tad of reality. Alan Ohnsman, writing in Forbes Magazine, tells a story that should calm some of the fears in our industry, Read it all on Parknews.biz. Its featured in “trending”.

Ohnsman posits:

You’re not about to own a self-driving car; but on-demand ride services, deliveries and some commercial transportation will soon deploy autonomous vehicles; they’ll arrive courtesy of major brands like Lyft, Uber, Waymo, Toyota, Volkswagen and BMW, among others.

Why would this be?  If the technology is such that it can deliver pizzas and Amazon, and trust it with bus loads of people, they why not individual ownership?

The answer is obvious. When you provide a self-driving car to individuals, you don’t get rid of an expensive, $100K a year driver. However if you can provide self-driving cars to Dominos, Amazon, UPS, and FedEx, those companies will be on board in a heartbeat. Labor is their biggest cost.

They will pay the premium that companies must charge to help defray the huge development cost for these automated critters. Plus…

These vehicles drive at fixed speeds (relatively slow) and they rely on highly mapped, tested, and often sensor arrayed roadways. A self-driving vehicle that you purchase may be forced to drive down alleys, perform in rain, snow, and other improbable climes, and dare I say it, take you to grandpa’s farm, down a dirt road in rural Iowa.

In addition, commercial automated vehicles will have considerably less stress placed on them by ownership. Companies will be more tolerant of bugs, problems, and start up issues than folks with individual interests. Don’t believe me? Remember Windows Vista? Me neither.

I live in a high tech neighborhood in Los Angeles. This morning walking back from breakfast, I reached a point where I could see three Teslas parked in driveways, and I knew two more were just around the corner. I have to keep kicking myself and shouting that this is not even close to average.

The CES is like my neighborhood and Tesla. Companies spend millions to launch products and put their best foot forward. Call me when you can see three self driving cars from one spot in Peoria.


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Winter Parking Creates Strong Emotions

Kids don’t use the word “dibs” to lay their claim anymore. I don’t know what they say, so it’s possible they’ve said it to me and I just looked stupid, or mean. Maybe there’s an acronym or symbol they text to each other when they are feeling territorial. I’m an adult so I use my size and cunning to get the best seat in the house or choose the radio station/playlist. If throwing my weight around doesn’t work, an executive order will.

But “dibs” gets a lot of play in some Eastern cities where heavy snow days turn parking into a battle of man vs. nature and man vs. man. According to Minnesota Public Radio’s blog at mprnews.org, recent storms have stirred up a lot of animosity over parking spots.

The big storm on the East Coast has proven that once again. If the post-Armageddon demand for food doesn’t turn people into barbarians, the demand for a place to park will.

I though “barbarian” was a good description for competition for winter parking in these modern times. Cavemen resorted to brutality to meet their basic needs (food, water, shelter), but present-day city dwellers have a longer list of basic needs – parking is on it.

Threats of broken windows, nasty notes, calls to police and any number of aggressive tactics are wielded to reserve private parking spots on public property.

It’s amazing how far people will go to preserve what they think belongs to them (even when it doesn’t). Being human is about having a point of view and protecting that point of view at all costs. Being an adult is about recognizing that every other person in the whole world has a different point of view. Whether or not it’s possible to accommodate those billions of points of views, there is kindness, tolerance and common sense to help ease the burden of conflicting perspectives.

The guy who breaks his back digging out the parking spot thinks it’s his. The woman who comes home from work hungry and tired thinks she really needs it. The man who lives across the street from the spot doesn’t see why he can’t use it. The elderly woman who can’t shovel is sure her neighbors will understand if she parks there. The authorities insist it doesn’t belong to anyone and cannot legally be claimed for private personal use.

“Dibs” is a limited concept. It can be applied to the softest blanket in the house or the last piece of cake, but not to people, ideas, ownership of the ability to designate what is right and what is wrong, and not to parking.

I wish the snowed in folks of the Eastern states all kinds of good luck throughout the winter and and early Spring with plentiful parking. Happy New Year.

Read the article here.

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An Apology

When I started Parking Today almost a quarter of a century ago, my goal was to increase communications within the parking industry. I have been proud that we have done at least a journeyman’s job at that task. However, in the past couple of years, PT editorial has begun to drift a bit, with stories and comments being published that did not belong in a magazine about parking, transportation, and smart cities.

All these were printed with the best of intentions, but as you know, there is a well paved road with those good intentions. Effective immediately, Parking Today is cleansing itself of articles which don’t relate to our key topic or to well run businesses.

Articles can seem innocent, but from a different point of view can be divisive and offensive. I am sorry that this has crept into Parking Today.

My sincere apologies for any offense these articles have caused.  They don’t belong here. And will not be seen in PT again.


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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.



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