Why Does Parking Have to be a Bad Word?


By Kevin White

I’ve been struck during my time in the parking industry at the negativity directed by the public at parking departments, parking enforcement officers, and other parking management staff, often directly to the faces of parking staff in the field. Read the comments in public parking surveys, on websites and from online reviews, and you’ll see similar comments. Talk to parking enforcement officers and you’ll hear stories about interactions with testy customers. Attend a public meeting about a parking issue and you’ll find the public will show up in full force with strong opinions to share (I have personally been cursed at during a public meeting about parking). The presumption among many customers is that parking departments and field staff are heavy handed, unreasonable, and out to siphon money from the general public.

Parking departments by and large are made of well-meaning public servants out to provide a critical public service to maintain access in our downtowns and across our cities for the betterment of the economy and community. Parking management is a challenging task, that requires a day-to-day grind along with strategic adjustments. There are often no silver bullet answers, and very often it’s about balancing tradeoffs and coming up with the best solution possible.

Why is the public perception so often a negative one, and does it have to be this way? Do we just accept this reputation, or try to change the perception? What’s the best way for parking programs and staff to communicate and interact with the public to promote a positive relationship?

We will be exploring this topic in more depth at the April 11 Frontline Series session entitled “Addressing the Perception & Image of Parking & Transportation Professionals” where we’ll have an open panel discussion (with audience question and answer) with several parking field staff from around the country.

Sign up now to join the discussion! 

Kevin White, CAPP, AICP,  is a Parking and Mobility Consultant with Walker Consultants, and co-chair of the IPMI Planning, Design, and Construction Committee.  He can be reached at kwhite@walkerconsultants.com.