A Seat at the Table During COVID-19

A group of people planning at a meeting.By Marlene Cramer, CAPP

For years, parking and mobility professionals have advocated for a seat at the table. As director of transportation and parking at a university campus, one of my collateral roles is as planning sections chief in our campus Emergency Operation Center (EOC). During the past four months, COVID-19 planning has been complex, ongoing, and evolving. The planning section analyzes and collects data and information so the whole EOC team has up-to-date situational awareness. We rely on regional, state, and worldwide data and circumstances so the collective EOC team can make operational recommendations and decisions for the months and years ahead. There is constant orchestration of information with local public health agencies and a myriad of campus departments and community entities. Not an easy task! The demands of the pandemic and the dismal budget realities for most make our planning efforts even more complex and essential.

In my role as planning section chief, I get the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse group of professionals I never would have worked with in my parking role before COVID-19. As I see the groups and task forces work together and develop plans and objectives, I have a better and deeper understanding and appreciation of the complexity of campus operations.

I’ve always said that parking professionals manage emergencies every day. It’s pretty much in our nature no matter what role we have, and we are used to planning in a quickly changing, fluid environment. There is so much variability between all our agencies, but we do have one thing in common: We are all working to get through this historic time, hopefully with courage and a growth mindset. A seat at the table gives me a bird’s eye perspective of plans for the university to repopulate and move ahead to our new normal. This is a critical and insightful view to help ensure that the future of transportation and parking complements the future operations of the university. I am very grateful to have a seat at the planning table and look forward to the future, minus COVID-19. Take care and stay healthy.

Marlene Cramer, CAPP, is director, transportation and parking services at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.