Tag Archives: TPP-2013-03-

Ditching Drivers

Ditching Drivers

By Jess McInerny, SE

What parking professionals need to know now to prepare for a new world of driverless cars. 

How will parking differ in the future? If you are investing right now, given 30 to 50 years of Ditching Drivers article building use, what should you consider to improve the useful life of your investment?

Let’s start by envisioning the city of the future. Imagine a city with wide sidewalks, lush landscape, and pedestrian-friendly hardscape. All of the acres of pavement used for on-street parking have been converted to public spaces. This will all be possible with the advent of the driverless car.

Two types of self-driving cars exist in this imagined future. Some believe the future will consist of a fleet of taxibots endlessly driving from destination to destination. Others believe that car ownership will remain, as it has for decades, a truly American right. In either case, the automobile industry will be transformed in many ways. Very likely, our nation will consist of a segment of the population who gives up car ownership completely while another segment chooses to own individual self-driving cars.

Let’s picture it: Your car drives you to work with a quick stop at your favorite coffee shop. Although there are many vehicles on the road, traffic flow is light because all the vehicles are perfectly synced together. During your relaxing commute, you eat a snack, check emails, and call a friend. You are dropped off right at the front door of your office building. Your car parks itself in a nearby parking structure and will wait to pick you up again at the front door when you are ready to return home. Perhaps you don’t even own a car and just jump in the nearest taxibot and let it drive you to and from work. These self-driving taxis are always available to take you where you want to go.

To have enough vehicles on the road to accommodate peak demand, there will be many excess cars during off-hours, such as while most of us are asleep. Rather than wasting valuable energy having these vehicles endlessly circling, a new kind of parking structure will be needed. Parking structures will not become a thing of the past but will evolve to meet the changing needs of transportation.

As the world of self-driving cars becomes a more practical reality, parking structures will evolve. It’s all about the drop-off! If your car takes you directly to the front door of the facility instead of to the garage, major upgrades to the loading and unloading zone will be required. In a typical office with a 1,000-space garage, approximately half that number of cars might arrive during a peak hour. This means approximately 40 cars will try to drop off their passengers every five minutes. The same idea will apply to retail centers, medical centers, and other buildings. In short, the loading and unloading infrastructures will have to be significantly redesigned to make way for the new era of vehicle use.

The Parking Structure
Driverless cars can drop off and pick up passengers at a passenger loading zone and then proceed to store themselves in the parking structure. This driverless parking will be much more exact than human driving and will not require doors to open while in the parking structure. For these two reasons, much less square footage will be required to park each car. For example, a 2016 Toyota Camry is roughly 6 feet wide. The most common traditional parking space width is 8.5 feet to account for car width, maneuvering room, and door opening. A parking facility designed for driverless cars can streamline some of that space, likely parking five driverless cars in every four traditional parking spaces. This is probably a very low estimate, depending on the development of the cars. Many ideas might lead to even better efficiency; driverless cars might not have side mirrors at all, which would reduce the width needed to park. Driverless cars might also park in the drive aisle and simply communicate with each other to move out the way when a trapped car needs to exit.

The driverless car facility will require less area per parking space. However, it will require a more extensive passenger loading and unloading area closer to the user’s final destination, such as the front of the office building or near stairs and elevators.

The Taxibot Parking Structure
If a parking structure is designed purely to serve as taxibot storage, the efficiency will dramatically improve compared with today’s self-park structures. Typical structures today use about 320 square feet for every car, including drive aisles and pedestrian circulation requirements. A “first in, first out” taxibot storage facility could be nearly twice as efficient. Building code issues involving stairs, elevators, lights, and sprinklers have not been resolved, but in theory, some of these elements could be removed from the structure entirely as human beings will not have to be in this building on a regular basis.

The Near Term
The question, then, becomes what to do with the extra parking capacity area? You may be able to lease your extra parking area to a taxibot operator or a nearby facility with insufficient parking supply. Maybe a partnership is formed in which a nearby old parking structure is demolished to allow for new development and that parking demand is absorbed into your structure.

The extra space could be used for a non-vehicular use. Any facility that is being designed and built in the near future should consider this question. It is prudent to consider building design issues that would be affected by a change in use in the future. As an example, picture a 1,000-space traditional parking facility built today. This type of garage would take approximately 320,000 to 400,000 square feet. For simplicity, assume a 350,000-square-foot parking garage. If five cars can now fit where previously four could, you may have 70,000 square feet of capacity for another use. This is probably a conservative number, as widths of drive aisles and other maneuvering areas can probably be reduced due to vehicle movement accuracy and coordination between vehicles.

To make use of this imagined 70,000 square feet, the building will have to be designed and built in such a way that the new use is viable. Here are some design considerations as we enter a potential era of transition from traditional cars to a new paradigm:

  • Loading and unloading zones will have to be updated.Floor-to-floor height will change. Parking structures generally have a lower ceiling height than uses such as office or lab space. Making an investment in a higher floor-to-floor height will greatly increase your ability to use your asset in other ways.
  • Air quality and ventilation will change. We typically spend little time in parking areas, but if the space may become an occupied use, the air supply system must be more robust to allow for a comfortable work space.
  • Light quality. Depending on the potential use of the space, lighting infrastructure must account for increases in light density and quality.
  • Egress and pedestrian pathways. The code-defined occupant loads for parking areas can be much less than other uses. The number of and width of egress pathways, stairs, and elevators must account for a future use. This must be carefully considered as the cost of stairs, escalators, and elevators are significant and the space requirements are large.
  • Vibration and acoustics. Sensitivity to the movement of structural slabs is very low in a traditional parking facility. A little bit of bouncing and noise is not a big deal. However, if the space may become office or lab, this requirement may change dramatically. This issue requires significant study as slab spans, column grids, and concrete thickness are major cost considerations.
  • Structural loading. Although this seems counterintuitive, vehicle storage loading is actually fairly low. Required structural loading for an office space, for example, might be double that of a parking structure. This is because although vehicles are heavy, they have fairly large footprints.
  • Plumbing. If a parking area is changed to office or another use, the plumbing for bathrooms, kitchens, or any other common use must be accommodated.
  • Drainage and floor flatness. Parking structures are generally sloped to drain and are not flat. If this space is to be converted to office, for example, how does the floor become appropriate for that use? Will a new topping slab be added in the future? Can the existing floor be flat, with alternative drainage concepts?
  • Protection from weather and water infiltration. Parking areas are usually non-sensitive to weather in comparison to other uses. A bit of water leakage or rain in an open parking structure may not be a big deal. If this space is later an office, the water becomes critical. Baseline waterproofing may need to be more robust or a future waterproofing concept may need to be designed.

The future of parking structure design will likely include a smaller number of much larger facilities.

If our cars are able to park themselves and pick us up at our whim, then localized parking and, more specifically, street parking will become far less important or even obsolete. A very large parking structure, which serves many types of uses, is a much more effective use of land than numerous small parking facilities throughout a neighborhood. The large facility might include robotic parking, standard self-park slabs, or some combination, but in any case will feature a large capacity so that all cars in the area can get themselves off the street. Expanded functionality such as electric charging and vehicle washing are also likely in this type of facility.

A world without cars is still a dream, and some are very reluctant to accept a future with computers at the wheel. Last year’s tragedy involving a death of a passenger in an autonomous car adds to the concern, although driving records of test vehicles have been exceptional in general.

An urban core with large parking facilities that replace seas of asphalt lots opens up a myriad of exciting urban design possibilities. Because parking structures are such a large investment of money and land, taking some time to consider their evolution is critical to successful land development as we move into the automated driving future.

Jess McInerney, SE, is a principal at Watry Design, Inc. He can be reached at jmcinerney@watrydesign.com.

TPP-2017-01-A New System for Abu Dhabi

A New System for Abu Dhabi

A New System for Abu Dhabi

By Mohammed Al Muhairi and Tope Longe

Managing the conflicting priorities of parking management.
Parking pricing remains an important aspect of parking management. The need to set prices at a level that is effective for road space management and to redress the gap between parking demand and supply is paramount. So too is the requisite to offset the cost of providing parking and its associated services through revenue generated from paid parking. The primary focus of a public-sector parking authority is the provision of parking as a public service to its people—residents and businesses. This includes the reduction of parking-related congestion, the mobility of goods and services, and the enhancement of safety and security.

Traditionally in Abu Dhabi, the public sector is responsible for the provision and delivery of goods and services accomplished through organizations owned and run by the government (central or local). The organizations are operational for the purpose of providing those public services that are often free at the point of delivery and are deemed to be better provided by the sector. Public sector activities range from the administration of urban planning, organizing national defenses, public transport and roads, and parking management, to mention a few. In providing parking management, though the provision of public service is the primary focus, the aim of generating revenue for the government or authority remains underlying.

The conflicting priorities of providing a public service while aiming for revenue generation remain a challenge for public-sector parking management authorities; Abu Dhabi parking management is no exception. This article presents the strategic approach adopted by Abu Dhabi parking in managing the conflicting priorities through its implementation of a simple, yet considered, pricing strategy.

To put the scope of the service into perspective, a synopsis of Abu Dhabi parking is necessary. The emirate of Abu Dhabi (Abū Zabī), capital of the United Arab Emirate, launched its parking management program (ADPMP) Oct. 4, 2009. The ADPMP, also referred to as MAWAQiF (the Arabic term for parking), commenced with as little as 2,387 parking bays in two sectors of the central business district of Abu Dhabi. Prior to that point, the enforcement of illegal parking in Abu Dhabi was minimal, which led to congestion and associated environmental and safety issues.

Recent years in Abu Dhabi have seen significant growth in the economy due to vast development and modernization projects that were implemented in line with the capital’s vision of becoming a world-class city. The capital experienced increasing immigration primarily due to expatriate workers moving to the country to execute the projects. As a culture that is heavily reliant on private vehicle ownership (due to inadequate public transportation and pedestrian facilities), the registration of private vehicles proportionately increased due to the increase in population. This had an expected knock-on effect on parking demand.

Available surface parking in the capital was free, and enforcement of illegal parking activities was minimal. Consequentially, illegal and obstructive parking practices were widespread across the capital. Congestion and difficulty in accessing some areas and accidents sites threatened public safety, introduced environmental issues, and encouraged deterioration of the urban quality of life.

A Strategic Approach
From 2,387 parking bays in October 2009, the Abu Dhabi Parking Division currently regulates and operates more than 100,000 parking bays (multistory and on-street parking). A strategic approach seeks to redress the imbalance between parking demand and supply. The shortage of parking bays in Abu Dhabi city was estimated through assessment and monitoring of the supply and demand for parking spaces in each sector of the central business district. The appropriate parking management approach was based on the assessment of demand and supply where:

  • Demand (vehicles) < Supply (parking bays) = Parking management control (free parking with illegal parking control)

In areas where parking demand is less than the supply, parking is free but enforced to ensure illegal parking is eliminated.

  • Demand (vehicles) > Supply (parking bays) = Paid parking management

In areas where the parking demand is between 10 and 30 percent more than the supply, paid parking is implemented to ensure efficient use of parking bays.

  • Demand (vehicles) > Supply (parking bays) = Provide extra parking and implement the paid parking program.

In areas where parking demand is more than 30 percent more than supply, the strategy adopted was to assess and implement initiative(s) to create additional paid parking bays. The initiatives for creating supply include:

  • Traffic rerouting and parking bays redistribution.
  • Utilizing empty areas as surface parking.
  • Building temporary parking structures.
  • Building permanent parking structures (as a long-term solution).

The initiatives implemented are sector-specific based on shortages in supply, parking expansion, future planned alternative transport initiatives, and other planned smart road use initiatives that are expected to eventually reduce the demand for parking space. Such initiatives include:

  • Re-habitation of sectors.
  • Increased public transport ridership.
  • Public transport improvement.
  • Implementation of the parking ratio in new buildings.

Pricing Strategy
Supply and demand is considered the most fundamental concept in setting the price for parking. The relationship between these two concepts of economics (the price elasticity of demand) drives pricing, all other factors remaining the same. The responsiveness of parking demand to the introduction or increase in the fee for paid parking fee is dependent on the price elasticity of demand.

With the introduction of paid parking, as with parking price increases, parking demand decreases. The degree to which demand changes in response to price is the price elasticity of parking demand. Price elasticities of parking demand vary from city to city depending on the makeup of land use, demography, alternative transportation options, and other characteristics. With paid parking being newly introduced in the capital, the responsiveness of parking demand to price was unknown. However, with the rollout of paid parking and enforcement in new sectors of the city, the demand for parking at the locations shifted. With the absence of historic data and a confirmed degree of elasticity, reliance was on a common price elasticity of demand of 0.3, which is prevalent for cities in the U.S. The elasticity of 0.3 implies that for a 10 percent increase in price, there would be a 3 percent decrease in parking demand.

Price elasticity of demand in Abu Dhabi is subsequently assessed through monitoring exercises that assess a series of before and after parking studies that generally measure how much parking demand has decreased in response to the introduction of paid parking in sectors of the capital.

Parking Priorities
The policy of paid parking in Abu Dhabi carefully considers demand and supply, the elasticity of demand, as well as a number of priorities relating to the economic, social, and environmental goals of the capital. This is to ensure the policy benefits the emirate and its population.

The economic goals consider the impact of paid parking on residents, businesses, and government in relation to the underlying goal of having a parking management scheme that is self-financing and revenue generating. The economic vitality of the three groups are analyzed this way: The social goals address the needs of all users of transportation and parking and consider how changes may affect them. Environmental goals consider how changes to parking policy may reduce the vehicle emission, deterioration of urban quality of life, and therefore support environmental protection.

The pricing strategy focuses on managing the conflicting economic and social goals. The approach considers:

  • Analysis of parking demand versus parking supply.
  • Sensitivity analysis for various price elasticities of parking demand.
  • Cost of living.
  • Various economic issues of parking pricing at individual, business, and government levels.
  • Analysis of parking operation costs and projected potential revenue based on pricing and predicted use.
  • Cost-benefit analyses to ascertain breakeven and profit margin.
  • Assessment of social and environmental issues of parking pricing.

The conflicting priorities of parking management are evident in the primacy to implement and maintain revenue-generating, self-financing parking service that benefits the economy, environment, and service users who, predominantly, would advocate for parking at minimal or no cost.

Fee Structure Strategy
Abu Dhabi Parking Division currently operates a simple two-fee structure. The simplicity of the structure has many benefits:

  • Ease of understanding for users.
  • Low administrative cost due to uniform processing, organization, and understanding of users and enforcement staff.
  • Ease of planning and policy implementation.
  • Fewer signs required to define the start and end of the different rate zones, thereby leading to minimal cost of signage and line-marking.

The current paid parking fee structure is AED2 ($0.54) per hour for standard spaces, AED15 ($4.01) per day and AED3 ($0.82) per hour for premium parking spaces. A maximum of four hours is permitted at premium parking locations. The standard parking is more affordable and well-suited for daily parking. The premium parking is set to enable higher turn-over of vehicles.

The simplicity of the fee structure is significant to the planning and management of the priorities. Whilst a simple fee structure has obvious benefits, a slightly more complicated tiered fee structure is being considered for the future to ensure parking demand is met in an even more efficient way.

Success Factor
The parking program operates an effective simple parking fee structure. The economic returns led to the achievement of breakeven within three years of the launch of the operation. The enforcement of paid parking also saw the realization of sustained compliance to the paid parking regulations. This is measured through the compliance factor, which consistently averages at more than 98 percent.

Lessons Learned
Empirical experience demonstrates that the following are key to the success of a parking management scheme:

  • The implementation of a carefully analyzed and planned parking pricing strategy.
  • Comprehensive demand management, which should be reviewed through continual monitoring to assess the supply-and-demand ratio and effectiveness of existing parking prices.
  • Planned alternative transport systems and solutions must be available. With predicted population growth, global warming, and the general need for environmental friendly alternative mode of transport, the drive is toward smarter solutions.
  • Balance of economic growth, social needs, and environmental sustainability in parking management pricing. This requires an integration of urban, transport, and parking decisions through parking master planning.

The work and review for effectiveness is ongoing. The next phase is expected to look at a multi-tiered parking fee structure. While a simple fee structure worked effectively and provided desired benefits, a multi-tiered structure may be necessary to ensure more efficient use of the parking spaces. This may not be a replacement of the current fee structure but the introduction of varying fees at different locations to further improve space use efficiency and readdress imbalances in demand and supply. It is a continual process.

TOPE LONGE is a specialist, contract performance management, with the Abu Dhabi Parking Division. She can be reached at temitope.longe@dot.abudhabi.ae.

MOHAMMED AL MUHAIRI is general manager, parking, of the Abu Dhabi Parking Division. He can be reached at mohammed.almuhairi@dot.abudhabi.ae.

TPP-2017-01-A New System for Abu Dhabi

Profitable Pricing

Profitable Pricing

By Saloni Firasta Vastani, PhD

How new trends in pricing models can benefit the parking industry.

Why is price so important? A study conducted by Hinterhuber Profitable Pricing Cover Pagein 2004 shows that a small increase in price can increase or decrease profitability by 20 to 50 percent. That seems like a lot, but let’s think about it. If you are selling a product for $1,100 and relevant costs are $1,000, it results in earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of 10 percent. If you increase the price by 10 percent without loss in volume, your resulting profit is $210, or a 21 percent EBIT or doubled profitability with a 10 percent increase in price. This is a really simplistic example, but, slight differences in price can have a significant effect on profitability.

Trends in Pricing Strategy
The rhetoric in pricing evolved significantly in 2016. Pricing has been in the news, not just because of the fluctuating oil prices or the scandals of drug pricing by pharmaceuticals, but for overall pricing strategy to increase profitability. The pricing for products and services now more than ever is critical and determines success in the marketplace. Companies that think of pricing models as an afterthought or do not adapt to the new evolving pricing paradigm may find it difficult to survive.

Let’s take Uber as an example. The entire company is based on a pricing model. Prices increase or decrease based on availability of drivers and are increased to entice more drivers to come out to match demand. There’s a similar model at jet.com, where smart pricing algorithms govern the shopping cart of the company.

In the last couple of years, “uberization” of prices spread to several industries and to large and small companies. Customers have become more accepting of these changing prices that were for decades reserved for the airline industry. The hotel industry is following suit quickly, but other industries, such as entertainment, are catching up too. Disney recently announced that its parks’ tickets prices will be demand-based. Even sports arenas are using pricing analytics to improve sales. For example, Atlanta’s baseball team, the Braves, confirmed it earns 12 percent higher revenue by using peak and off-peak pricing for game tickets.

The parking industry is also joining this movement. In the past few years, many parking companies have explored and enacted dynamic pricing. Additionally, city and state governments are beginning to experiment with changing prices for everything from use of HOV lanes to on-street parking.

In addition to uberization of prices, personalization of prices is entering the marketplace. The digital marketplace is vibrant and dynamic when it comes to personalized pricing. Currently, many online retailers are adjusting prices based on inventory, customers’ attributes, past purchase history, and other factors. Companies such as Lexis-Nexis and Amazon are already exploring personalized pricing strategies and personalized promotion tactics.

As consumers move to the online marketplace, companies have access to more data about the purchase behavior of each individual based on prior purchases and history. Big data and analytics give companies not only access to huge amounts of data that were not possible to view earlier but also ways to understand and use it. Personalization works because each of us has different prices at which we would stop buying the product, and it’s based on several factors. With access to data and sophisticated predictive and data analytics, it is now possible to model the threshold at an individual level as a function of firm, relative competition and specific customer attributes.

The impending entrance of fully automated and connected cars will further influence the ways consumers will buy parking. We are at the beginning of an era with more personalization in every aspect, including pricing in the digital world.

Increasing Price Performance
Even before you implement dynamic pricing or personalized pricing, there are several aspects to be considered and optimized to realize the full effect of new pricing trends. In fact, increasing the price performance should be embraced regardless of whether you are embracing new pricing tactics or holding on to the existing pricing strategies. Implementing an increasing price performance program improves revenue on an average by 1 to 3 percent without introducing any additional costs.

Price is multi-functional and multi-dimensional in nature. Hence multiple functions and different aspects of a business operation are linked to price. When these aspects are not managed well, the added benefits of pricing tactics are not fully realized. Often, companies are not able to absorb the full benefits of increasing prices or new pricing strategies due to what are called “price leaks.” A price leak is an unintentional or not perceived price decrease. Unnecessary promotions, inaccurate billing, inaccurate recording, systems issues, and lack of communication are some areas in which price leaks may be located in an organization. Hence, a good pricing strategy should not only include consumer research but also an understanding of functions such as legal, audit, accounting, promotions, operations, and IT.

You may develop a fantastic pricing strategy, but are your IT systems able to handle it? Do legal contracts with your landlord have some revenue-sharing clause that kicks in once you cross a certain revenue threshold? Do operational costs increase at certain production or occupancy levels that throw off the cost curve? All these considerations are an important aspect of developing a pricing strategy that directly benefits the bottom line. Both the back-end systems and employees in the front should be aligned with the overall strategy.

Starting Points
So where should you start? The accounting department is a good place to uncover price leaks. Average price paid at a channel level may provide a clue to where the problems are located. Understand the composition of an average price at a channel level. Do the various prices at each channel, such as corporate channel, monthly customer, or social media, align with what you have on the price sheet? Also, analyze the pricing waterfall at a channel to see where the highest percent of discounts exists. You can further divide that by region or location to pinpoint the exact point of the leakage.

The next stop is the audit department. Here you can further trace down some clues you have uncovered in the accounting group. The audit group knows what each customer paid, how they paid, what coupons they used, how much discount was given, etc. Take sample data of actual transaction-level detail. The devil is truly in the details here. Compare the actual price during the time with the price each customer paid or what he or she should have paid versus what was actually collected. Next, look at the service that was provided—were there other charges such as expedited service, valet parking, or a car wash whose charge was missed? Close these leaks. Understand the process that caused the leak so it can be prevented from taking place in the future.

The sales group is an important department in which to ensure that price performance is high. From reviewing corporate contacts to having an open dialogue, engage with the sales team about how it is structuring each deal. Follow a deal process to ensure that prices are coded in correctly or that volume-based discounts accurately correlate to existing customer volumes. Ideally, the pricing team should be separate from the sales department in a organizational chart. The pricing team, when empowered and managed well, does a marvelous job in realizing a high price performance.

The next functional department that is key to price realization is marketing and promotions. Aligning promotions to pricing strategy is critical. Scan all promotions in the market. Do they align with the new/existing pricing strategy? Are they producing the desired results or simply discounting customers you already have? Is there a way they can be set up to align with the broader objective and customer-acquisition tactics?

Lastly, evaluate the pricing strategy in light of corporate constraints. Pricing strategy is as great as it can be implemented. Technology has become a business driver now, not just a support function.

If your strategy includes dynamic pricing but the systems cannot support it effectively, it will not work. If huge technology investments are needed that erode the revenue maximization that would have been received from the pricing strategy it does not make sense to pursue it. Another constraint that comes up often is people resources. Any pricing strategy may require additional resources in other functional areas. For example, marketing resources may be needed to be available to redesign the materials; the last thing you want to do is increase or decrease prices without appropriate communication to customers. Ensuring that the other departments have the human resources to execute on the pricing strategy will lead to improved implementation, particularly as you introduce new products such as dynamic pricing.

Although pricing has a direct effect on the bottom line, only 15 percent of companies globally have a dedicated pricing team. It is a strong lever, and slight changes can make a big difference to profitability and revenue performance. Often, in the parking industry particularly, a few years go by before someone reevaluates pricing for a location. Even in cases when the price is optimized regularly, the other internal departmental factors are not considered and aligned to realize the full benefits. An understanding of the inter-connectedness of price across the various functions, all the way to its impact on brand image and consumer perception of a product or service, is crucial to unleash the true impact of pricing power.

Saloni Firasta Vastani, PhD, is managing partner of Intellisiv LLC. She can be reached at saloni.vastani@intellisiv.com.

TPP-2017-01-Profitable Pricing

Let There Be Light

TPP-2013-03-Let There Be LightBy Kyle Leighton

Michigan State University (MSU), East Lansing, Mich., is a public research university ranked as the ninth-largest university in the U.S., with 47,800 students and 2,954 faculty members. It is home to the renowned Wharton Center for Performing Arts, whose massive facility hosts 17 Lansing Symphony Orchestra concerts and many additional productions throughout the year including concerts by local, national, and international acts.

Over the past few years, the university has adopted a strong on-campus sustainability initiative. Adopting these standards for energy savings requires a challenging operating specification to follow, and MSU launched a major lighting overhaul in the parking garage at the Wharton Center last fall.

Challenges and Solutions
Due to the demands of the indoor parking garage and the imminent scheduling of events, the criteria for indoor lighting were very stringent. Facility managers at the Wharton Center were concerned about light levels, dimming capabilities, installation deadlines, reliability, and procuring a fixture that would meet the energy reduction and U.S.-made requirements of Consumers Energy (the local utility) rebate programs.

One of the first decisions university officials made was to install parking garage luminaires that automatically reduce to 50 percent power on vacancy and increase to 100 percent power on occupancy, using a fixture- integrated occupancy sensor. These bi-level products can be combined with traditional photocontrols to maximize energy savings, which is estimated to be 30 to 50 percent per fixture.

“Bi-level lighting technologies for parking lots and parking structures is one of the most effective strategies for deep energy savings as well as for the potential to enhance safety and security,” says University of California Davis (UC Davis) Professor Michael Siminovitch, director of the California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) of the University of California. “Bi-level lighting technologies can offer the facility manager significant savings while enhancing safety and security. At UC Davis, we have deployed a wide variety of bi-level induction systems including surface lot and parking structure applications. We have found that bi-level lighting technology can produce very significant savings while at the same time enhancing safety and security across the campus. This strategy has proven to be so effective in a broad cross-section of demonstrations that the state of California has integrated bi-level lighting into the 2014 title 24 code, requiring it for all major renovations and new construction.”

Most parking garages use high-intensity discharge light sources that operate continuously regardless of lighting needs. These facilities typically do not employ energy-saving control strategies such as daylighting or time clock scheduling, and no considerations are made for lighting control based on occupancy. Garage lighting, designed to only a single static level, wastes energy and contributes to peak demand during the day and light pollution.

The Retrofit
In late 2012, MSU moved forward with the advanced lighting fixtures and replaced 480 high-pressure sodium 175 watt fixtures with 70 watt EverLast® Bi-Level Davenport garage fixtures in the Wharton Center parking garage. The cost of such bi-level induction luminaires is generally one to two times higher than more common garage luminaires. The payback in most cases is estimated at between three and seven years, depending on occupancy rates and the size of the installation.

The fixtures chosen by MSU step down the energy use in the campus parking garage to 40 percent when areas are vacant for a set length of time, allowing the facility to achieve more than 60 percent energy savings when compared to existing fixtures. Furthermore, safety in the garage is also expected to improve; when the motion is detected and the higher light mode is activated, the change in visual environment alerts occupants.

“The goal of the center was to marry innovation, research, and product development in the academic world with the private sector. The collaboration that took place between CLTC and EverLast® from a design and development standpoint resulted in the bi-level induction parking garage fixture; the first of its kind. The fixture combined the energy-efficient features of an induction lamp with the added value of SMART motion and daylight controlled dimming, and the results were astonishing. What happened next was truly the definition of a successful university/private sector relationship. Not only was the center critical in the design, they became our first customer,” says Brandon Marken, vice president of sales, EverLast® Lighting. “University officials also found that safety increased, light quality increased, and the obvious goal of reducing energy consumption was met.”

One big benefit the university realized is that there are virtually no maintenance costs for up to 15 years on the new fixtures. As a result, the Wharton Center can expect to realize an estimated annual energy savings of more than $52,000 a year.

MSU has replaced more than 1,000 fixtures to date, expanding on the program in the garage. Installations have ranged from the East and West Recreational Campus buildings, and the Corp Science Building. Projects have included bi-level parking garage fixtures, which not only save energy and enhance student safety, as well as high bay fixtures, which lower energy costs while providing an unmatched 100,000-hour-rated lamp life.

Kyle Leighton is public relations coordinator with Full Spectrum Solutions, Inc. He can be reached at kyle@fullspectrumsolutions.com or 517.783.3800.

TPP-2013-03-Let There Be Light

Sowing Seeds Harvesting Rewards

TPP-2013-03-Sowing Seeds Harvesting RewardsBy L. Dennis Burns, CAPP

My job as a consultant provides three great benefits I treasure. The first is that, when done right, it is a continuous learning experience. The second is that the travel allows me to see and keep in touch with a wide network of professional colleagues and friends. The third is the somewhat unique perspective one can gain from visiting so many different places and programs and watching them evolve over time.

Perspective and Progress
One of the big lessons I’ve tried to impart to my municipal clients over the years is to be patient (often easier said than done, I’ll grant you) and, at the same time, observant and ready to move when opportunities present themselves. This lesson seems especially relevant to the progress being made in mid-sized municipal parking programs around the country.

It has been said that “optimists see the donut; pessimists see the hole.” It is sometimes easy to be pessimistic when you, as the parking professional, can see a clear path to parking program enhancement and know the changes that could be made in one short year would be nothing short of transformative for the community. When this potential progress is stifled due to lack of vision, politics, funding, or other factors, it can be deeply frustrating.

The fact that I get to come and go from different environments creates a different perspective on program development and evolution. Over the past 10 years or so, I have seen much change and progress (dramatic progress in some cases) in many mid-sized municipal parking programs. For some, it took a change in city leadership such as a new mayoral regime taking over, while in others, change was sparked by a departmental reorganization, the retirement of one individual, or just a shift in momentum brought on by a new approach or the creation of new partnerships.

The Gardening Analogy
Have you seen the movie “Being There,” starring Peter Sellers and written by Jersey Kosinski? (If not, you should!) Sellers plays the main character: one Chauncey Gardiner, a simple, unsophisticated, and uneducated (except by television) man whose works as (you guessed it) a gardener. Following the death of his aging employer and through a series of accidental events, Chauncey is thrust into a very high-profile role when he is introduced to a politically connected millionaire. His simplistic responses to the media and others, which are based on gardening, are suddenly seen as brilliant and insightful. He begins to be seen not as simple but nearly enlightened.

Chauncey’s gardening analogies reminded me of how working in the municipal parking environment appears from my perspective. My somewhat seasonal visits highlight progress that, to locals, must appear as slow, incremental, or non-existent. On the contrary—the lack of progress seems to jump out more starkly to me. In response to questions such as, “Why hasn’t that been taken care of?” I often hear, “Wow, I pass by that every day and don’t even see it anymore!”

Transformative Programs
The keys to igniting the transformations that are occurring in these municipal parking programs are multi-dimensional, and each community has followed different paths to get where it is today, but there are some common themes we can explore using the gardening analogy.

Weather and the environment. Farmers are all too familiar with the fact that they are, to some degree, at the mercy of the environment. Draught, excessive rain, financial issues, and commodity prices all have the potential to affect the growing season and the success of the enterprise. They have no choice but to do everything they can to ensure that the fundamental elements are in place and then hope for the best.

Many of the communities in which I have worked have created plans that could have been transformative and had the potential to generate positive community contributions in a variety of areas beyond just parking, but for a variety of reasons (i.e. political, environmental, financial), progress was slow. This can, of course, be very frustrating and even demoralizing. Sometimes we just have to persevere and be ready when conditions for growth present themselves. Considering the environment when selecting which seeds to plant is critical.

Preparing the soil. Each of these communities went through a process of having prepared the soil. This is done through processes of internal reassessment, community outreach and feedback, and issues identification, followed by ongoing program refinement and community education.

Planting the seeds. Identifying the key issues, understanding the unique characteristics of the community, and working through a well-developed planning process leads to the creation of a community-specific set of strategies and action items (knowing what seeds to plant and when). Through this process, we have planted the seeds for program development and change.

Tending the garden. Some time is required before we have a healthy, productive garden. It takes months of tending the soil, keeping down the weeds, fertilizing, and watering the planting beds, before we can expect results. Young plants are fragile and need constant attention. Sometimes it seems like in parking, once we have a plan, we expect instant results. This is where patience, diligence, and optimism come into play.

Harvest time! Through the lenses of time and perspective, I have come to see that when the time is right, change will occur. In some cities, I can see slow and steady improvements that gained momentum over time. In other cases, it is like the sudden breaking of a log jam that leads to a flood of change and improvement. The real harvest, however, is when parking program enhancements begin to have positive effects in support of larger community strategic goals and improved downtown vitality.

Case Study: Park Cedar Rapids
Following the horrific flooding of 2008, the City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, rolled up its sleeves to not only rebuild, but reinvent and improve itself. Parking program enhancement had been a goal of many in the downtown community for some time. Following the flood, the municipal government tackled thousands of flood-related issues that included basic clean-up, temporary government services relocation, FEMA coordination, and future flood mitigation planning.

It was within this context that a jointly-funded parking plan was authorized by the Cedar Rapids Downtown Association (representing downtown businesses) and the city. It was important that the parking plan not just be another plan and that it not be a stand-alone plan. Rather, what the community needed was a plan focused on implementation and action, and one that would be fully integrated and aligned with the larger community strategic goals.

The thing that makes this case study special is the incredible job of implementation that has occurred in Cedar Rapids. Vanessa Rogers and her team pushed the implementation plan forward at a pace that, frankly, I have never seen before. Credit should also be given to Jon Rouse and Republic Parking for their efforts to bring about the amazing changes that are clearly evident. Investments in new on-street parking technology, including the adoption of new more customer-friendly parking payment options, the implementation of several significant new policies, ongoing renovations to the parking structures, and the rebranding of the parking program are but a few of the significant areas of accomplishment.

This more action-oriented and strategic approach has paid huge dividends for the community. An outcome of the strategic parking plan was that the parking function was transitioned to the Cedar Rapids Downtown Association (now the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance), which allowed the city to address the myriad different priorities it faced with its flood recovery efforts and gave parking the special focus it needed from a group that was passionate about advancing the parking plan.
Some accomplishments of Park Cedar Rapids—the result of the plan—are:

Parking system management reorganization. Transferred strategic oversight of the parking system from the City of Cedar Rapids to the Downtown District.

Parking access revenue control system replacement. Replaced flood-damaged system for four parking ramps

On-street parking program adjustments and upgrades. Installed 40 new credit and debit card enabled multi-space parking meters and launched a pay-by-phone/mobile app program.

Off-street parking pricing structure adjustments. Implemented a demand-based tiered parking pricing strategy; prices went from $30 across all facilities (decreased from $50 per month pre-flood) to a range of $25 to $75, depending on location. They also implemented a carte blanche pass that is more expensive, limited in number, and permits the parker to use any non-reserved, non-handicapped space at any time.

Parking ramp refurbishment. Installed new energy-­efficient LED lighting in one parking ramp (saving 50 percent per month in utility costs, on average).

New downtown development and parking supply additions. Successfully lobbied the city council to move forward with plans to build a new 500-space parking ramp to support the new Cedar Rapids Convention Center. Also successfully lobbied to move forward with plans to build a second 500-space parking ramp to support a new federal courthouse building.

Successfully launched the new “Park Cedar Rapids” brand.

What is not stated above and is even more important is the positive effect that all these changes have made on the downtown. Parking is no longer perceived as the intractable problem with no solutions in sight, but is now seen as a positive contributor to a community that is roaring back to life and prosperity.

I am reminded of a quote from Vita Sackville-West, who said, “The person who has planted a garden feels that they have done something for the good of the world.”

L. Dennis Burns, CAPP, is senior practice builder/regional vice president with Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. He can be reached at dennis.burns@kimley-horn.com or 602.906.1125.

TPP-2013-03-Sowing Seeds Harvesting Rewards

From Gates to Grapes

TPP-2013-03-From Gates to GrapesBy Kim Fernandez

Joe Kovach looked out over a mostly-unused parking lot behind a closed dormitory at The Ohio State University in the fall of 2010 and pondered what potential might lie on the asphalt.

“I started wondering if we could make that productive,” says the associate professor of entomology (study of insects) at the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. His thoughts naturally turned to what might grow out there, and then to what might be different about pest management on pavement versus a traditional all-soil garden or farm. His inner scientist quickly weighed what might happen if he tried to grow food on the lot.

“When I saw it, I got really excited,” he says. “You have the dorm, then some lawn, and then the parking lot. So we’d be able to set up any treatment as a fair comparison—whatever we did on the parking lot, we could also do on the turf. Once I had access to soil, all I really needed was water, and we had water coming from the empty dorm.”

In other words, Kovach could not only try to grow food on this one parking lot, but also set it up in a way that might point to whether large-scale farming on unused asphalt might be a feasible way to increase crop yield across the midwest, where there are many older, unused lots just like Ohio State’s.

By the next summer, the eighth-acre lot had been transformed into a productive meadow, where blueberries, apples, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, and kale flourished in large pots and raised beds. The original asphalt sits largely untouched, complete with its yellow striping, ready to be used as a parking lot at any time it’s needed.

Kovach’s parking lot farm has, to date, gathered a lot of attention from both the mainstream press and researchers around the world. “We’ve had a lot of visitors,” he says. “There’s a lot of domestic and international interest among researchers and landscape architects. They’re all thinking about ways they can use this.”
The potential, he says, is huge.

Lots to Farms
Kovach says that just in the midwest, his parking lot farm research could change the way land is used, particularly when it’s been abandoned. And that’s not just true for parking lots.

“We have all these abandoned industry houses,” he says. “They used to build factories and there were these houses for workers all around them. We can use that unproductive land.”

He started his campus farm with trees and plants in large pots and raised beds, which didn’t disturb the parking lot’s asphalt. Some of the pots were hung on large panels, which maximized the square footage that was available. “Instead of having two rows of strawberries, we could have six rows,” he says. “It became more efficient. And we had pots on the asphalt and pots on the lawn. We didn’t destroy the asphalt—we put in raised beds that were 35 inches high. Half of them were on wood chips and half were on a potting soil mix.”

After a little while, Kovach started wondering about the heat-containing ability of the asphalt and whether plants started in the ground (rather than in pots or raised beds) might enjoy a longer growing season because of it. Leaving the asphalt around the plants intact would be key to that experiment.

“I got an asphalt cutter and cut out the asphalt where planted rows would be,” he says. “We cut rows 30 feet by three feet, scooped off the pavement, scooped off the soil underneath, and refilled them with our potting mix. Then we planted mature trees and dwarf trees.”

Those trees were later covered in plastic, and the combination of the heat absorbed by the pavement and held by the plastic meant Kovach and his students could harvest fruit longer than from the trees he’d planted as a control in the lawn. “Most of the peaches where I had coverings over the asphalt really did hold that heat. We had a lot more fruit on the asphalt during high frost times than we had in the soil.”

“You could grow lettuce year-round if you wanted to,” he says. “We can do that in Ohio.”

On the reverse side, he says, the higher heat in the summer didn’t make much difference. “Surprisingly, even on the asphalt on those summer 100-degree days, it’s hotter, but the trees and the bushes provide some shade. Plus we’re watering regularly. There was some evaporation going on, but it’s not as hot as you might have thought.”

The in-ground treatment made harvesting fruit easier. “A nice tree stayed at eight feet high,” he says. “Our other treatments put the trees three feet off the ground, so they were 11 feet tall. We needed a ladder. And so we tried to look at all of these different treatments and ask what we would do if we had a parking lot to farm. Because as long as you have water, you can grow stuff pretty well.”

Smaller Scale
Kovach isn’t the only one who’s pondering the potential for growing food on parking lots and structures. The city of Vancouver, Canada, is currently leasing the rooftop of one of its downtown parking garages to Alterrus Systems, which has developed a vertical gardening system called VertiCrop that’s installed on hard surfaces to grow large quantities of leafy greens in relatively small spaces.

Vertical racks hold 12 layers of spinach, lettuces, and herbs in 3,000 trays across the deck’s approximate 6,000 square feet. The racks shift positions so all the plants get the same light and heat, and are covered with a film to control temperature and humidity.

Parking garage roofs are good for farming in this manner, says Alterrus Strategic Advisor Donovan Woollard, because “they have decent weight capacity and freight access.” And with greater emphasis on biking, walking, and using mass transit in the city, leasing the under-used parking deck made financial sense.

“This represents a new secure revenue stream that is consistent with the city’s goals to be the world’s greenest by 2020,” Donovan says.

Donovan says the rooftop garden will grow about 130,000 pounds of greens every year. The crop is currently going to a large grocery store, a produce delivery service, and a few restaurants. An established Alterrus rooftop garden in England grows greens that feed the animals in a zoo.

Because the racks stay in constant motion, Donovan says the entire space can be used for plants—no aisles are needed in between—and the greens can be harvested within 20 days of planting. Additionally, the garage roof offers consistent sunlight and is shielded from winds by surrounding buildings, making it very farm-friendly.

Parking Farms
Back in Ohio, Kovach’s farm currently hosts just more than 6,000 plants and, he says, grows enough food to feed about 30 people. So far, there is no measurable difference in yield between the plants on the pavement and those in the adjoining yard. Some of the food goes to the university for examination and research, and the rest goes to a community gardening group that sells it for funding. Additionally, he’s partnered with the local court system so that people who are assigned community service come to harvest the food and then sell it at a local market. “Most of the produce is used,” he says.“We’ve been producing quite a lot of food on this parking lot.” Watering is simple, and there’s another benefit: “I don’t have to weed,” he
says. “That’s a big positive.”

With all the visitors and press attention he’s received, he says, he wouldn’t be surprised to see his parking lot farm copied elsewhere. “I tell people to do the planting in the order of young fruit trees, then bushes, then vegetables just because the fruit is delayed gratification,” he says. “If you’re going to do this, it’s three years before those are productive. But the quality of the fruit is really good. You can taste the sugars. The blueberries seem to be a little small, and we’re thinking about that.”

He currently starts farming around March 1 and harvests until mid-November. “We get so many green beans, I can’t believe it,” he says. “This is big for a research lot. Farming is all a matter of scale. When you start getting into intensive fruit and vegetable farming, an acre is pretty significant. That’s a lot of food—an acre of food will feed 200-300 people a week.”

The potential, he says, is big, but it’s going to depend on how other people feel about farming on pavement.

“Part of my job is to educate people about what’s possible,” he says. “Where it goes from here depends on what people want. You can’t compete with Walmart. You have to market this in a way that shows you’re local, the food is picked ripe, and you don’t have to ship it anywhere.”

And, he says, those who’d like to start small-scale gardening on a parking lot might find it’s not quite as instant as they initially thought.

“You need bird netting over berries,” he says. “There are a lot of pests to take care of, even in urban settings. We have raccoons, skunks, and deer. I garden, therefore I fence, even in urban areas. You have to have a fence to keep two-legged predators out as well. That’s the cost of doing business. It’s not going to be cheap, but it can be profitable.”

Kim Fernandez is editor of The Parking Professional. She can be reached at fernandez@parking.org.

TPP-2013-03-From Gates to Grapes

Safer Places

TPP-2013-03-Safer PlacesBy G. Robert Harkins, Ed.D.

As owners, operators, and users of parking facilities, we all have in our minds several lingering questions: Is my parking facility safe? What can I do to protect myself and my customers while in my parking facility? There’s a lot of advice out there on how to improve parking facility security, and it can be overwhelming. Luckily, some common sense and relatively simple actions can make a big difference in keeping our customers and employees safer on our properties.

For Customers
First, what can we tell our customers who enter our facilities to park? Consider signage or handouts for them that explain some basic safety tips.

Before You Park:
Download one of the many numerous free parking apps that can help you mark where you left your vehicle when parking somewhere new.

Always drive with car doors locked.

Roll up and lock your windows.

Do not leave valuables in sight. This includes phones, pagers, purses, wallets, etc.—things that might invite theft. Put valuables and packages in the trunk or out of sight before arriving at the parking facility.

Do not leave your driver’s license, original registration, house keys, or other important personal items in your vehicle.

Do not store an extra key “hidden” under the car or behind the fender. Thieves are onto that.

Note locations of emergency phones, parking attendants, and security.

Never leave an I.D. tag on your key ring. If lost or stolen, a thief may find you, your car, or your home.

Selecting a Parking Space:
Whenever possible, you should park next to entrances or in areas that are in the open or well-lighted.

Do not park in isolated locations or behind obstructions that block you from the view of others.

Consider your return time when choosing a parking location, as it may be dark when you return.

Drivers should look for parking spots that will not crowd the vehicles next to them.
Cars should be parked in the center of the parking space with ample room on both sides for passengers to get out.

After You Park:
Before walking far from your car, make sure to locate all entrances and exits to the garage or lot.

Make a note of where you parked or use the app you downloaded.

Walk with a confident and positive attitude.

Don’t walk alone at night.

Use an anti-theft device when possible.

Trust your instincts. If you sense something isn’t right, ask a security guard or officer for an escort to your car.

When in doubt, report to security anything that looks or feels suspicious.

Keep a hand free at all times. This gives you the opportunity to attempt to fend off a would-be attacker.

Back into parking spaces where possible. This allows for a quick and easy exit.

Avoid parking next to vans, pickups, or other large vehicles. They can hide your vehicle, making it easier to break in or for an attacker to hide.

Always report any suspicious activities to parking attendants or security, or call the police by dialing 911. If you feel you are being followed, walk or run quickly to a lighted store or other place where crowds of people can offer help. Know where to go for help—security guard, police station, station, grocery store, etc. Do not go home if you think you’re being followed.

When Returning to Your Vehicle:
Be alert to strangers hanging around the parking area.

Leave at the first sign of danger and call 911 or use an emergency phone in the facility.

If possible, return to your car with an escort or in a group.

Be aware of your surroundings and don’t allow yourself to be distracted (by children, packages, cell phone, etc.).

If you have an unlocking button or keyless entry system, unlock your driver’s door only.

Have your keys in your hand and ready before arriving at your car. Keep a whistle on your key chain or a hand on your car alarm if available.

When returning to your car, check all sides before entering.

Look inside your vehicle before entering to make sure there are no unwanted occupants. Once inside the car, lock all doors and start the engine. Start moving the car as soon as possible after getting situated.

Never offer rides to people you do not know.

Avoid lingering. Avoid fumbling for keys or pass codes and plan to get into the vehicle and make a speedy exit. Never answer a cell phone call on the way to your car.

If you are unable to locate your car, don’t be afraid to ask a parking attendant or security guard for help—they are happy to help!

When parking on streets, avoid desolate areas that are lightly traveled and, when possible, walk to your vehicle with others.

If you see someone breaking into your vehicle or another vehicle, alert the police or security guards. Do not place yourself in harm’s way.

For Our Facilities
As owners or operators of parking facilities, have we inspected our facilities for safety and security? Let’s take a walk through our facilities with a critical eye.

What do We Know About Our Facility?
Is the street address known to all employees?

Are all supervisors familiar and conversant in the hours of operation and coverage?

Do employees wear uniforms and have identification badges?

Walk the Exterior Perimeter and Ask Yourself These Questions:

Is the perimeter clearly defined and identified?

Is there a serviceable and fully-functional barrier?

Is there a clear zone of at least 20 feet from material stored near the fence?

Is the clear zone free of shrubs, underbrush, and high grass?

Is the perimeter fence in easy view of employees and/or video surveillance?

Is perimeter lighting functional and adequate?

Now Walk the Entire Facility and Ask Yourself These Questions:
Are directional and guidance signs easy to read and understand?

Are lanes and spaces well marked?

Are payment machines easily seen and used?

Are cashier booths and offices secure? How is money protected?

Are safes and vaults equipped with an alarm system?

Is there emergency power?

Does the facility comply with local fire codes and is it inspected regularly?

Is lighting functional and adequate?

Are there emergency call boxes located throughout the parking lot?

Does the facility have CCTV? Is it monitored during all hours?

Is there CCTV on all entrance and exit points?

Does landscaping provide a hiding place?

Ask Yourself These Questions That are Unique
to Garages

Are the elevator inspections current?

Is it possible for either people or CCTV to see inside the elevators?

Are stairwells clean and clear of obvious safety hazards?

Is it possible for either people or CCTV to see inside stairs?

How is the facility cleared of ice and snow?

How can you make stairwells and upper levels more secure to prevent disturbed individuals from jumping?

These are some tips some for making our facilities more safe and secure for our customers, our staff members, and our communities. I encourage you to use these pages as a checklist of sorts to educate your parkers, inspect your property, consider ways to boost its security, and make relatively simple improvements that benefit everyone.

G. Robert Harkins, Ed.D., is associate vice president of the University of Texas at Austin. He can be reached at bharkins@austin.utexas.edu or 512.471.5398.

TPP-2013-03-Safer Places

Garages are for Parking

TPP-2013-03-Garages are for ParkingBy William F. Kavanagh, AIA, NCARB

There has been a lot of news recently about a variety of people-
gathering events being hosted in parking garages (see p. 28 for one). Some of them include the following:

Sports event tailgating.
Fireworks viewing.
Parade watching.
Dances or raves.
Grand opening/ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
Wine sipping events.
Restaurant week food tastings.
Beach parties, including sand.
Fashion shows.
Wedding receptions.

Before you decide when to host an event in your parking garage, it is important to know if you should allow it at all. Parking garages can be designed to accommodate large gatherings of people, but most are not intended to be used for anything beyond the storage of passenger vehicles. People-intensive events, such as those noted above, generally should not occur in parking structures.

Most garages are designed primarily for the storage of passenger vehicles, not the gathering of people. Open parking garages are specialized storage structures that differ significantly from other building types. The building code recognizes this by allowing many special provisions for open garages that are not permitted for other building types. Garages that have a low number of occupants are considered a low hazard. Assembly occupancies where large gatherings of people occur represent higher hazards and the building code has greater life safety requirements for them, particularly in three main areas.

Structural Loading
Which is heavier: a person or an automobile? Obviously, a car weighs more than a person. This may contribute to a common misperception that garages are designed for heavy loads because cars weigh a lot. Now consider which of the two is heavier on a weight-per-square-foot basis.

Consider a 9-foot wide by 18-foot long parking stall with its 162 square feet of area. A 2010 Cadillac DTS—a large passenger vehicle—weighs about 4,000 pounds. With five adult passengers weighing 200 pounds each, the total weight is 5,000 pounds. If you divide this weight by the area of the parking space, the result is approximately 31 pounds per square foot (PSF). That’s fine, because the building code requires parking garages for passenger vehicles to be designed for a minimum of 40 PSF of live load.

If you take the same area of the parking stall and assume two square feet per person, there could potentially be 81 people there instead of the Cadillac. If each person weights 200 pounds, the total weight on the stall area would be 16,200 pounds or 100 PSF. Per the building code, assembly occupancies such as theaters, dance halls, and restaurants where large numbers of people can congregate have a minimum live load design requirement of 100 PSF. This is two and a half times greater than the loading requirements for a parking garage! Parking garages are designed for a lesser live load than most other building types. Cars are not heavy on a square-foot basis.

There are stories of dances being held in garages where the floors of the structure bounced significantly as scores of people danced in unison with the music—check out YouTube if you need proof. Most garages are not designed to accommodate the live load requirements needed for large gatherings of people. Damage can occur to the structure when it is overloaded. Obviously, from a structural perspective, assembly-type events generally should not be held in parking garages that weren’t designed to accommodate them.

Fire Protection Systems
According to the International Building Code (IBC), open parking structures are not required to have:

Mechanical ventilation.
Fire alarms.
Enclosed exit stairs.

These are special provisions afforded open parking garages due to their unique characteristics, such as low-hazard and low-occupant load. By comparison, assembly uses generally have more and more stringent life safety requirements. Most open parking garages are not designed with the additional fire protection provisions necessary to host gatherings. Doing so creates a hazard to the health and life safety of the public.

Exit Stair Design
The required number and widths of stairs are significantly different between a garage and an assembly use structure of similar size. Exit stair widths are sized based on the number of occupants. The number of occupants is a function of occupancy type and floor area.

Consider an area 123 by 272 feet, which equates to a garage footprint of 33,456 square feet that can park approximately 108 cars. If it is a parking garage, the building code assigns a floor area of 200 square feet per occupant, resulting in 168 occupants (33,456 SF/200 SF/occupant) for the floor area. The width of the stairways must be equal to or greater than the occupant load multiplied by .3 inches per occupant, assuming it is un-sprinklered, as most open garages are not required to be sprinklered. This results in 50.1 inches of required stairway width. Because a minimum of two exits at a minimum width of 44 inches each are required by code, 88 inches of exit width are provided. Accessibility requirements may require even wider stair width minimums.

Now, assume only 10,800 square feet of the garage floor are to be used for a banquet or an event with tables and chairs. The building code assigns a floor area of 15 square feet per occupant for this type of unconcentrated assembly without fixed seats. This will result in an occupant load of 720 (10,800 square feet divided by 15 square feet per occupant) for the floor area. The required stairway width must be equal to or greater than the occupant load multiplied by .3 inches per occupant. This results in 216 inches of required stairway width (720 x .3 inches per occupant) but only 88 inches of exit width exists in the two stairs of a garage. There is insufficient exit capacity! Also, when there are more than 500 occupants, three separate exits are required. Finally, the allowable travel distances to exits in garages and assembly-use buildings are different.

Ultimately, the authority having jurisdiction, such as the fire marshal or other building official, will determine what is allowed and permissible in their territory. If they know or are informed that an open garage generally has a 40 PSF live load with no sprinklers, no fire alarm, no mechanical ventilation, no enclosed stairs, and a low occupant load compared to a comparably-sized assembly building’s 100 PSF live load, sprinklers, fire alarm, enclosed stairs and high occupant load, it is likely they will not allow an assembly event to occur in a parking garage.

Obviously, parking garages generally are inadequate as venues for people-gathering events when viewed from a structural, fire protection, and exit capacity perspective. Typically, parking garages are for the storage of passenger vehicles, not parties.

William F. Kavanagh, AIA, NCARB, is director of parking design at the Harman Group. He can be reached at bkavanagh@harmangroup.com or 610.337.3360 x118.

TPP-2013-03-Garages are for Parking

Lets Get This Party Started or Not

TPP-2013-03-Lets Get This Party Started or NotBy Larry J. Cohen, CAPP

And the winner in the category of Parking Innovation in a Parking Program goes to…The Lancaster Parking Authority, for their garage rooftop events!” So went the annual awards banquet of the Pennsylvania Parking Association last September.

That night, I accepted the award for innovation in a parking operation in the form of a beautiful Academy Award-like trophy that I cherish and proudly display in my office. The next morning I was brought back down from the euphoria of the win with a presentation about the potential dangers of hosting events atop garages. What a dichotomy.

With just a mention of special events in our authority newsletter, we generated a lot of interest and have been very successful leasing out the roofs in our various garages for different events, including a birthday party, political fundraiser, viewing party for downtown fireworks, a tailgate party with antique cars, and a fire island-themed fundraiser with dancers, fire breathers, cabanas, D.J., and many bright lights.

We decided some time ago that using our parking assets during off-hours in support of community events would be a win-win proposition. The events would generate lease revenue along with parking revenue during off-hours. We’d also enjoy the personal satisfaction of seeing people in celebration on the decorated rooftop of a garage, most of whom were amazed that a parking garage was transformed into a social area and wasn’t just just a concrete building to park their cars. The adulation from attendees who were not used to such an event would also bolster our image and brand. We were right—many kudos and thanks followed from organizers and attendees.

Shortly after accepting our beautiful trophy, my winds started to deflate as an architect from a Philadelphia area consulting firm went through slide after slide of various garage designs and why they should not be used for anything but parking—you can read his thoughts on p 32. In one slide, he presented the total weight of people as compared to the total weight of vehicles in a garage, with the total weight of people being much greater than that of vehicles. Agreeing with his mathematical calculations, I had to ask, “Isn’t snow much heavier than both?” He said yes, which went a long way in alleviating the fears of my board members in attendance who were thinking “Are these rooftop events a good idea?” and questioning whether we should continue or not. I assured them that as long as we didn’t have hundreds of people jumping up and down in unison to a dance song, we should be alright.

Our facilities are old, but have survived a small earthquake and annual fireworks (launched from a platform) being set off from the top of one of our garages for years.

Knowing the millions of dollars I have spent on rehabbing garages over the years, I asked if there was any historical data on garages being severely damaged or collapsing as a result of special events on garage rooftops. The presenter stated, “No,” but showed several scenes from championship parades where hundreds of spectators crowded along the decks of a garage for a view of a championship parade. Could that number of people create structural damage? There is a strong case that it can. Could someone fall or be pushed over the side? More likely a possibility and liability situation.

So should you use your garages for special events and provide a public service to your community? I say the pros outweigh the cons, and we took several steps to ensure our events’ safety:

Our insurance company was involved to make sure anyone having an event in our facility has proper insurance coverage and provides a certificate of insurance. Our lawyers were also involved in drafting a good template agreement that anyone leasing the facility needs to sign and abide by.

We have to think about liquor and confirm requirements for events that include it. Typically, commercial general liability policies provide “host liquor liability” coverage. That allows you to have an office party with alcohol, serve (free) drinks, and still be covered. However, as soon as there is any type of charge associated with liquor, host liquor liability no longer applies. The courts have determined over the years that selling alcoholic beverages at an event goes well beyond what the local state store or restaurant does. In fact, selling can mean a situation where there are drink tickets as part of the admission cost or where donations are requested to offset the price of the alcoholic beverages being supplied. To protect your operation, if the host intends to provide guests with alcoholic beverages and there is any type of cost or charge associated with that, they should purchase liquor liability. Most important to you is to make sure no garage personnel are involved with serving, carrying, or otherwise distributing liquor for the event.

The fire marshal is also contacted to make sure the number of people attending the event is adequate and not a major issue for evacuation. In the event of a fire, you would think anyone can walk down the ramps, but you also need adequate stair and elevator access.

Our operations staff is involved to make sure the logistics of the event are right. Stating the obvious, make sure you emphasize with the event holder that having a party or function on the roof of a parking garage is not the same as having a function in a catering facility. Temporary bathroom facilities need to be provided if none are accessible.

Security needs to be provided to watch that people are not hanging too close to the edge and not leaving drinks on the ledge. No glass products are allowed, except in poured bottles handled by catering staff. Everything must be paper and plastic because broken glass would be a major problem.

We secure a cleaning deposit in addition to the lease to make sure the garage is left “broom clean.”

Lastly, we ask clients to plan an alternate location based on weather conditions, which may include too hot or too cold temperatures, rain, wind, etc. Be prepared to relocate the event to a deck below the roof to stay out of the elements. There are better times than others to hold a rooftop event that minimizes the effect of weather conditions.

If you decide to move forward with events in or on your garages, taking these precautions will help to ensure you have successful functions that the community will be talking about long after the event is completed, while giving them a different outlook and perspective of parking garages in the future.

Larry J. Cohen, CAPP, is executive director of the Lancaster, Pa., Parking Authority. He can be reached at lcohen@lancasterparkingauthority.com.

TPP-2013-03-Lets Get This Party Started or Not

Capturing America’s Most Wanted

TPP-2013-03-Capturing America’s Most WantedAuthor, victim advocate, and crime-fighter John Walsh, host of “America’s Most Wanted,” shares his thoughts on the parking industry and catching the bad guys.

Watch true-crime television for any amount of time, and it won’t be long before John Walsh appears on the screen. He left his career in the hotel industry to fight crime full-time after his son, Adam, was abducted from a Hollywood, Fla., Sears store and murdered in 1981; the case went unsolved for 27 years.

Walsh is a founder and board of directors member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He launched the hit “America’s Most Wanted” television show in 1988, and is credited with capturing more than 1,200 fugitives and finding more than 50 missing children. He was named Man of the Year by both the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI, and is one of only a handful of honorary U.S. Marshals. He’s also been honored by four U.S. presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. He and his wife, Neve, played central roles in the passage of the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection Safety Act, which was signed into law 25 years to the day after Adam Walsh disappeared.

He recently sat down with The Parking Professional to talk about the industry’s role in fighting crime.

The Parking Professional: The International Parking Institute (IPI) partnered with the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Department of Homeland Security to offer First Observer anti-terrorism training to more than 12,500 parking professionals at no charge. How is that valuable in terms of keeping citizens safe?

John Walsh: I think it’s a great program and a terrific service. I’ve learned one big thing by doing “America’s Most Wanted” for 25 years: the public can be a tremendous asset to finding the bad guys. We’ve caught more than 1,200 guys simply by asking every week and telling people they can make a difference. What you’ve done with Homeland Security is vitally important to teaching people who work in structures and the people they work with and associate with to keep their eyes and ears open.

We started profiling terrorists in 1993 when a blind sheik tried to take the twin towers down the first time, and that was from a parking garage. I saw that garage first-hand. To make the people who work in garages aware and teach them to report something if they see something makes them comfortable and gives them the guts and the smarts and the knowledge of what to do and make that call.

TPP: What do you think the role of parking professionals is or could be in fighting other kinds of crime?

JW: The role of parking professionals is a huge one. So many crimes are crimes of opportunity. So many are crimes against vulnerable women, and so many times, predators try to use parking garages to commit those crimes. Women in particular are extremely vulnerable to these guys.

Parking attendants need to be on the lookout using the tools they have to see if something’s out of the ordinary. I’m a great advocate of cameras. Great Britain has closed-circuit television cameras in many residential parking structures and public areas, and those cameras are monitored by the police. Chicago adopted camera surveillance and has installed more than 1,000 cameras around the city. You have to teach staff and people who operate parking structures first, in all the positive sides to cameras, and second, what to do when you’re working in a structure that has cameras. Parking professionals should be trained in what to do if they see someone checking out cars or lurking among the cars—what do you do, and how fast do you do it?

We covered a crime a few years ago when someone was abducted from a store. It was a national chain and they had cameras in the store, and that helped solve the case. But the problem was that the director of security bought the least expensive cameras and there was so much pixelation that mall security couldn’t see the guy and they lost him. Also, 13 cameras weren’t functional.

IPI is very proactive—you have to be. They way you reduce crime is to be proactive. You train your staff, you train your people in your structures, and you spend that extra dime on cameras so you have something you can review. Both England and Chicago have seen their conviction rates accelerate because they have these things on tape.

TPP: Why are garages attractive to criminals? What can owners, managers, and staff to do to try and make them less attractive?

JW: It’s a place to get people when they’re unaware. The bad guys can hide and stay relatively anonymous, do their crime in a short time, and get a big payoff—money, gifts, credit cards. It’s easy. And a parking structure is a good place to hide and a place where women are vulnerable, particularly at night.

Parking is a business, and it needs to train people how to deal with this. The best structures have people who patrol and visible signs of cameras and surveillance even if the cameras aren’t real. Burglars and muggers will pick a place that doesn’t have a sign that says “covered by surveillance cameras.” They pick a place where there isn’t security.

It’s important to train parking professionals to keep their eyes and ears open and teach them what to do if they see something, which is to call 911 right away. I’ve addressed the National Emergency Number Association several times, and they always say if you see a potential crime, call 911 immediately. They don’t want you to call 911 to unplug a toilet, they don’t want to get your cat out of the trees, but if there’s a crime in progress or it looks like someone might be committing a crime, they’ll respond in a minute.

If you have multiple structures, partner with the police department. It’s a very good thing to ask the local police or the sheriff what you can do, and to establish a better relationship between them and your director of security or personnel. Ask if there’s a special number you can call, can you visit the 911 operation, can a deputy visit your facility to give you ideas of how you can improve your security. Ask if there’s a way they can help you be less vulnerable.

We worked on a 2007 case where a woman and child were abducted from a mall garage in Boca Raton, Fla., and murdered. It’s a very high-end mall, and it was the middle of the day. Another woman and boy had been kidnapped before in that garage, but the guy didn’t kill them. People are now suing the mall owner. I think that, in response to the kidnappings, he installed better lighting and security and cameras, but it’s too late. Being proactive and reaching out to find out how you can improve your security is a very smart move to try and reduce your potential for crime and for litigation. We all have mothers or daughters or sisters, and we all want them to be safe.

TPP: A common statistic we hear is that one in 10 crimes happens in a parking garage. Is that accurate?

JW: A lot of statistics about crimes are guesstimations. They come from reports to chiefs of police, but lots of times I feel reporting is inaccurate. People try and reduce those numbers because they’re always bad for business and not good for anybody’s job. I believe a lot of crime statistics go unreported. It took a federal act to get colleges to accurately report crimes on their campuses, and the FBI believes many still don’t report because it affects donations and admissions. So it’s hard to get a real handle on crime numbers. That said, I think it’s a lot more than are reported. People are reluctant to say they went back to their cars and the presents they had inside were gone because they weren’t savvy enough or educated enough or aware enough to lock their doors. They don’t want to report that they did something stupid.

TPP: There are parking professionals throughout our communities: in private facilities, at hospitals, throughout universities, at airports, and in cities and towns. We’ve heard stories of those workers stopping child abductions by being observant. What should set off an alarm that they may be witnessing an abduction?

JW: I think it’s a wonderful thing that you and others teach parking professionals about this. I’ve worked in hundreds of cases since my son was abducted, and kids can be gone in the one minute that nobody was paying attention. We had so many false tips in my son’s case that said he was grabbed into a blue van. There was never a blue van. It was a white Cadillac. Twenty-seven years later when we finally figured it out, the man who killed Adam had already died on death row. People were well-intended, but didn’t give good information on what they saw. A trained parking professional might have made a difference.

The number-one thing I would say to parking attendants is that you have the right to speak up. Imagine seeing someone grabbing a child who’s screaming and you didn’t want to say anything because it might have been a relative, and finding out later that child was abducted. All you have to do is say, “What’s going on here?” or ask the child if this person is their parent or their uncle, especially if the child is terrified. You could save a child’s life.

Parking lot attendants have to be encouraged to get involved. If they see someone dragging a child who’s screaming or grabbing a child, they have the authority to ask—it’s their garage.

Police tell us that it’s hard to get good information. It’s important to stay calm and take a good look if you think there’s an abduction or a child kidnapping or a mugging going on. The most important thing for parking attendants is to stay calm and write it down. What did the guy look like? What was he wearing? What was his build? We all get confused and think he had a mustache when he didn’t or that he was five-foot-10 when he was really five-foot-four. I’ve done it. The first four hours are crucial, because the majority of abducted kids are dead in four hours. Good information is critical. The parking lot attendant can have that good information—he took off in a red van, for example. It would be great if they could get a license plate. As a result of Amber Alerts, which took six years through Congress to get passed, 17 kids who’d been abducted were saved in the first year, because somebody observed it.

TPP: You’ve clearly made a tremendous difference in fighting crime over the years. How can parking professionals affect their communities?

JW: One person can absolutely make a difference. I’ve seen it 1,200-plus times and for more than 50 missing children. Someone cared enough and was well-trained enough and courageous enough to make that call and do the right thing. You have to give people rules and tips—if you feel uncomfortable, here’s what you do. They have to have a game plan. It’s one thing to say what they did was all wrong, but it’s another to say, “Here’s the right way to handle this.” People say you should be brave and risk your life, but you don’t have to risk your life.

Give your employees a call to action and show they what they need to do, and then reinforce it. If you can, without risking your life, yell or intercede or make noise. Tell them here’s what you do when you see something, here’s who you call, here’s where you write it down.

All the experts agree on the one thing people should yell when they need help. We’ve done many segments on safety and it applies in a parking structure: you yell “fire.” People will come. They look at “help,” because they’re reluctant to get involved, but they’ll help you if they hear “fire.” If you see a man choking a woman and you’re afraid to just start yelling, ask them what they’re doing. You might save a life. You scream at somebody, blast an airhorn if you have it, whatever you can do to distract that criminal. That perpetrator knows somebody’s seen them. Most of the time, those guys are cowards. They’re praying people won’t get involved and they won’t be seen. In cases we’ve been involved with where someone’s created a ruckus, most of the kids involved are alive today.

The key witness in a parking lot is going to be the attendant, and he or she has to keep a calm head. He can talk to other people there: “Let’s sit down and talk about this. Let me get my pad and my pen, and you tell me what he looked like—was he dark, blond, redhead, short, tall, chunky? What did the car look like?” That’s good, solid information.

TPP: The parking industry has embraced technologies such as cameras and license plate recognition (LPR) as enforcement tools. Is there potential for those technologies to fight crime?

JW: There’s huge potential. When Adam was abducted, people thought they got on the turnpike. This was 1981: there were no cameras, there was no DNA. The technological advancements we have today are a huge tool for law enforcement and that can be a home run. Now you know who was in that lot or that garage on that day. In the Boca Raton case I mentioned earlier, one of the women who survived gave a good composite of the guy. Imagine if they had cameras or license plate recognition. They would have had had it down.

I urge people who own or manage parking lots and garages to go that extra yard, spend that extra money, and install cameras and license plate recognition. Spend the extra money on training your staff to make your parking structure safer and, from a purely mercenary business standpoint, it’ll reduce your liability exposure too. You could be a deterrent. If you have a guy who steals stuff from cars and you have good cameras or good technology, you might be able to catch that guy.

TPP: Why should parking managers invest in anti-crime training on a local level for their staff members? How can the parking industry help educate the public about safety and crime?

JW: I hunt people down for a living after they hurt people. I’m a believer in being proactive and that means people have to be knowledgeable. I’ve said it for years—knowledge is power. It can be as simple as handing out flyers of do’s and don’ts or teaming up with law enforcement to make people more aware, all of it helps. The more sophisticated garage operators are and the more they put into being proactive, the more benefit everybody gets. The structures are safer, there are fewer lawsuits, and they have staff who knows what to do when they see something going on. Crime can affect anybody anywhere. From a Neiman Marcus garage in Boca to the middle of Manhattan, crime affects everybody.

TPP: What role can IPI play in helping the industry fight crime?

JW: Take a proactive stance. That’s what you’ve got to do. Parking lots and structures share value, and we have an obligation to make them as safe as possible. People in the industry should avail themselves of what IPI offers, certainly, and train their staff. Sometimes employees are helpful and on the ball, and other times they’re people from other countries who can’t help you. They want to, but they have no idea how or what to do. It’s an obligation, and I congratulate the owners who are doing a great job and being very proactive.

TPP-2013-03-Capturing America’s Most Wanted