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JVH is Right, again – aah, The Law of Unintended Consequences

I sometimes wonder if I’m just moving down the wrong path. Then something like the spending bill that has recently passed congress comes along and voila, I’m proven right again. It does make one feel a tad better.

Look, I’m all for electric vehicles. If you want one, buy one. More power to you. Just don’t ask me to pay for it.  That being said, let’s review the bidding:

The bill that recently passed congress extends the $7500 rebate for EV’s. So I end up subsidizing your EV. But wait – it turns out that if the parts in the EV, read that battery, comes from a country that we don’t get along with, read that China, no rebate. 77 percent of all batteries come from China. The idea is to motivate auto manufacturers to source batteries here in the US. The manufacturers say they can’t do that, and even if they could, that it will take years to create manufacturing here.

The problem is that the raw materials that goes into batteries, lithium, nickel, and cobalt, are by their nature very messy to dig out of the earth. They make oil drilling look like an operating room. So in the NIMBY fashion, the Greens are adamantly opposed to sourcing these metals here in the US. It’s ok to ruin countries in Africa and South America, you know, ‘over there’ but not here in the good old US of A.

Let’s don’t even get into the issue of the power grid, or the fact that 88% of the power on that grid is from non renewable sources. As Fox Business Host Charles Payne noted the other day:

Then Payne emphasized, “Here’s the crazy thing. We just have to look to Europe. France and Germany. Their electricity rates will be 1000% higher this winter. One-thousand-percent higher than the average price for the last ten years.”

Payne reiterated that there are significant costs to the green energy “transition” that politicians, who have almost no idea how energy is generated, tout. “All this is a money transfer. We’re transferring money to the richest Americans out there. Progressives who voted for Joe Biden. That is all this is.”

Whenever the government is involved, problems arise. This new law basically does nothing for the environment, causes problems for automakers, and will increase the battery costs and increase non environmental extraction of metals from the earth in countries that don’t particularly care about keeping such activities environmentally pure.

I wonder if we had just left well enough alone, the free market would have enabled the EV companies. If they weren’t able to get funding from private sources, maybe the technology wasn’t there yet or the tech would have moved more slowly, allowing the support system to keep up with it.

Is this new law a classic example of Unintended Consequences? I think so.

I’m going to ask my green friend down the street who owns a Tesla and a monster gas guzzling Jeep why he replaced his Chevy Tahoe with another gas guzzler. I’ll keep you posted.

JVH

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Las Vegas is Booming

An article in the Wall Street Journal today noted that the numbers in Las Vegas are at an all time high. This includes visitors, gaming, hotel guests, just about everything. This can be nothing but good news for business. People are traveling and spending money. Even in the heat of a Las Vegas summer.

The average hotel room in sin city has increased from just over $100 per night to nearly $200 and that’s not slowing down visitors at all. Pent up demand is exploding all over southern Nevada.

This, along with full airplanes and crowds at other destination locations tells us that despite Covid, Monkeypox, and pessimistic reports on the economy, people are traveling, spending money, and looking at a pandemic in the rear view mirror.

From my point of view, this means that the pessimism we have seen over the past nearly three years is waning and optimism is winning out. But what about parking.

I don’t know about you, but the garage under my office is nearing capacity each day. I’m running into people in the elevator, most with smiles on their faces. What with the positive attitudes we saw at PIE and the IMPI, employment numbers, and the like, it seems we can look to a positive fourth quarter and 2023 to come.

Welcome back, America. We missed you.

JVH

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A Truly “BOFFO” IPMI

The reviews are in and they are ‘boffo’. The IPMI convention in New Orleans was a grand success. Although I wasn’t in attendance, I’m overwhelmed with positive reports. Not that the parties and seminars weren’t  ‘super fantastic.’ I’m sure they met the IPMI’s usual standards. I’m hearing something a tad different.

Reports coming in are reflecting an attitude that permeated the event. People were engaged, they were happy to be there. They had kicked covid under the bus and were just excited to be around their peers and having discussions they missed for the past nearly three years.

It is nothing but good. Positive attitudes reflect success. Not only success for exhibitors but success for those running parking organizations nationwide. People came away from the IPMI with a refreshing outlook on parking life. There is no higher praise.

We here at PT wish Shawn Conrad and his crew only the best.

JVH

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Mobility Hat Trick

I have been confused with the term “mobility.” It seems that our organizations, parking departments, and transportation sections have added the term “mobility” to their name. But just what does it mean?

My friend Tim Maloney over at Flash does a fantastic job at promoting his cause on twitter and I find most of his tweets up to snuff. I am confused, however, by his latest. He directs us toward his “Mobility recap” which is a list of links to articles ostensibly about ‘mobility.’ Fair enough.

However when one goes down the list, one finds that 12 out of the 16 links deal with EVs. Although I understand Tim’s regard for EVs and their success, I’m trying to understand just how this relates to mobility. Are we saying that a car (or bus) that is powered by electricity gets one from place to place (mobility) better than a traditional ICE vehicle?

I wonder if we are losing our focus here?

Do we really REALLY know just what mobility is or means. Have we succumbed to a buzzword? If mobility is a way to get people from point A to point B then are we discussing that, or are the topics concerning the inner workings of this mode or that.

The question it seems to me is that are we actually trying to get people conveniently from point A to B or are we discussing alternative ways to power the vehicles we are expecting to perform this mobility magic.

It seems to me that we have a ‘hat trick’ (look it up) working here. We are, I think, trying to do too many things at once. Change the populace’s way of transportation, change the way that the transportation actually works, and in doing so, change the way our entire infrastructure works.  These are admirable goals, but in attempting to change them all at once, are we pushing the envelope just too much? And do we end up with many untenable solutions rather than one good one.

JVH

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“Leave me alone, I’m talking to my dog today.”

That sentence is emblazoned on my tee shirt. And I wear it proudly.

Why would I want to talk to my dog? Dogs seem to love you unconditionally. No matter what you say to them, they are happy to listen, offer no comments, and in the end you might get a nice kiss or a wag of the tail.

They hold your space. There is no condescension, no frowns or kindly smiles, just quiet listening. What’s wrong with that. Why are we required to comment when someone opens their heart to us? Why can’t people just let the words be.

Is there an expectation that when we talk that someone must respond? Sure, if you want a response a nice “what do you think?” can elicit it. But even if you ask, do you really want a response? Sometimes isn’t it enough just to get it ‘off your chest.’ Doesn’t forming thoughts into words help you find your way and come to conclusions without outside input.

I have never visited a psychiatrist but from what I have heard, 99% of the conversation is from the patient. The doctor usually simply turns questions around and asks what the patient thinks about what they just said. Isn’t that basically the same as no response at all. Sure the doc sometimes offer a hint, but the real solutions come from within.

Time to change my shirt. The new one says “Live Recklessly, Park Wisely.” Are these words to live by? I’ll ask the dog.

JVH

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If your App Doesn’t work, is it T-Mobile’s Fault?

I just finished editing Melissa’s column for the September issue of PT. She told the story of trying to pay for parking with her cell phone (there was no other way to pay) and not being able to do so because her carrier was spotty in that area. She was in the mountains which are notorious for poor cell coverage.

She was reluctant to ‘blame’ anyone for her troubles, but she is much nicer than I. I put the blame solidly with the App provider.

There have been numerous stories of Apps not working because of cell phone problems. One concerns an App that didn’t work over high volume days like the Fourth of July, of Labor Day. There just wasn’t enough bandwidth to handle the thousands of phones that were glomming onto the carrier and although one could text and talk, the ability to use the App or frankly any other web based program was sketchy at best.

Once again, I see this as a App provider’s problem. As Melissa pointed out, she would have loved to have had a simple parking meter or Pay and Display machine so she could complete her purchase without worry.  Wouldn’t the salesperson for the App have been a lot better off telling his customer that there could be some problems with cell coverage and that perhaps a less digital, more mechanical solution might be in order.

Is it possible that a potential solution won’t work in every venue? Is it possible that finding an alternative could be quick and cheaper in the long run than fighting a battle with physics and mother nature? You aren’t going to win.

JVH

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Parking is Necessary

We are constantly harangued by those who know more than we do that the world’s problems relate back to parking. There is too much of it. It costs too much, or too little. It takes up space that could be put to better use. You know the rest.

Nature has forced me to spend a lot of time over the past few months driving between this office building and that, between this restaurant and that, between this shopping center and that. In every case, I have been able to make use of parking that was available for me. Frankly, if there was no parking, I wouldn’t go there.

And there would be no office building, no restaurant, no shopping center. Let me stop you right there. I can hear the speech coming. Its all about bicycles, scooters, buses, and rapid transit. And of course, good ole shoe leather. Well balderdash.

I live in the real world. The places I need to visit are 10 miles apart. Whereas I can zip between them in by Belchfire V12, and visit four or five in a day, using any of the modes I have listed above I could maybe hit two. And I would come home exhausted.

We don’t live in compact European cities that have streetcars at every corner, extensive underground metros, and frankly are foot accessible. My town is 100 miles across, as is yours if you live in Chicago, Houston, Atlanta or any of the other mega cities we have created.

We live in an auto centric world. Accept it, embrace it, its not going to change. And parking is a critical part of our society. Can we do a better job of planning, promoting, and administering our parking. Sure. And we had better get on board with that right away. But believe me, parking isn’t going away any time soon.

Remember that when you stop off at the drug store on the way home to pick up that script, or pop in to the 7/11 for a quart of milk (or six pack) or take that herd of kids to band practice, a soccer game, or just drop them off at school. In every case, your life was made easier, and let’s face it possible, due to that parking space you used, even for only a few minutes.

I know its not popular, but parking is necessary. We do ourselves a disservice by not embracing this fact and promoting it. Are our parking organizations looking inward rather than outward? Our customers often get the idea that parking is just ‘there.’ Is it not possible that we should begin to tell our story?

Parking in necessary. And it doesn’t just ‘happen.’

JVH

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Don’t pay the ransom, I’ve escaped.

A reader pointed out to me that he hadn’t seen any blog posts lately from me. He was right, I have been remiss. I’m caught between long covid, various other ailments, and the summer doldrums. The truth is that the real reason is the summer doldrums.

Parking doesn’t stop just because its summer. In fact, its more on our minds as we head out to the beach, mountains, and open air concerts, ball games and the like. And it can be expensive. A venue like the Hollywood Bowl here in LA can price parking as much as a general admission ticket.

Stop me if you have heard this story, but foggy mornings here on LA’s westside remind me of the conundrum folks bidding on running beach parking can find themselves facing. I’m not sure what the deal an operator cuts with LA County today, but back in the day, it was a lump sum contract. The operator bid a certain amount that was to be provided to the county, and then was able to keep all revenues generated by the lots, fair enough.

The problem was predicting the weather. Although it can be very warm in the inland areas of Southern California sending folks scrambling to the beach and filling the parking lots and the operator’s pockets, the weather along the coast, over those beaches, can be problematic. Its July 22 as I write this missif and it is overcast and cold at the beach.

So the operator is at the mercy of Mother Nature. If its cold and foggy at the beach, not as many people will come and park, and not as much money will be generated. If the operator bid an amount high enough to get the contract, and the weather didn’t live up to the Chamber of Commerce’s info, disaster could strike and the operator would find itself at a loss.

There is a fog horn that alerts boats as they approach the entrance to Marina Del Rey which is at the heart of beach parking. If that horn is going off during the day, its bad news for the operator. In fact, it was known that if you heard the horn on the Fourth of July, there would be no profits that year for the operator.

I can hear that fog horn from my home. And throughout the years, I would listen in early  July to determine whether or not the operator running the parking at LA county beaches was going to make a profit. Most years were profitable, but some years not so much.

This has been a good year for parking at the beach. No Fog Horn on the Fourth.

JVH

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Fear –  Is it a loss of control or something else?

When my aged mother lost her driver’s license, she told me that she was afraid. That it was the beginning of the end for her. When I explained the wonders of taxicabs, including having a personal driver and someone to help her with bags and packages, her fear went away. Was it really fear, or was it that she felt she was no longer in control?  Once she had that control back, the fear went away.

Perhaps the fear was being afraid of change. She no longer drove but was forced to get around in a different manner. She saw a change coming, and few of us like change. Rather than embracing it, we fear it, deny it, and move heaven and earth to prevent it. But change is the only constant in life.

I got Covid. It was a pretty bad case. I was in quarantine in Norway for 10 days. I am not usually that sick. As I laid there fear washed over me. Would I survive? What would life be like after Covid? I began to wonder why I was so sick. Then it struck me. I was decades older than the time when I could bounce back from a cold or the flu in a few days. For a geezer, it takes longer. I began to accept the change my life had taken with passing years, and the fear washed away. It wasn’t control, it was acceptance of change. I would be OK, it was just taking longer.

I visited an aging friend in a ‘home’ and asked at the desk where he was. The receptionist pointed down the hall and said that he was at the organ recital. I headed that way listening for the sounds of music. I arrived in a room with a group of people in deep discussion. “My heart is in afib”, “My kidneys are working at 50%”, “My macular degeneration is under control”. Then I got it. An organ recital.

These ‘geezers’ had accepted the changes in their lives and were, in fact, reveling in discussions about them. What did an old boss tell me about problems in a new product? “If you can’t fix it, feature it.” These folks were simply featuring their problems. How refreshing. They were accepting the changes in their lives.

When they did that, they began to mitigate the fear, in this case the fear of growing old, and began to accept the changes over which they had no control. Can we do that in our daily lives? We fear change because we think it takes away our control. Would it not be better to embrace the changes and use them to our advantage? After all, my mother found that the change in her life brought about by the lack of a driver’s license was in fact better than what she had experienced before. Smart woman, my mom.

All change is not easy. Sometimes the challenges are monumental. We need to get past the fear and look to the possible benefits of the change, no matter what that change is. Somewhere in the deep dark reaches of every change, there are upsides. Just look for them.

JVH

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What if We Can No Longer Afford Sunshine?

I sound like a broken record (All you over 50 know what I mean). I am so frustrated by our betters (sorry Tony) telling us about what we should do, how we should live, and the like, but never taking into account what their rules, laws, ideas, and pronouncements mean, particularly to our pocketbooks.

I don’t want to get into a political argument, but I can’t help it. The Greens have been talking about the end of the world for the past 50 years. They have been listing upcoming natural disasters and none, zero, zip, have come to fruition. Yet, we still move headlong into saving the world with wind farms, solar farms, and the like.

We now have seen the result in Europe. Country after country is pulling out of such energy disasters and looking to return to natural gas, coal and dare I say it, nuclear power. How long do we have to put up with this baloney until we wake up and look out the window and understand what really is happening?

What really bothers me is that we are asking the poorest among us to pay for all these boondoggles through higher costs of goods and services through inflation. This is brought on by planned increases in the cost of energy. Virtually everything we buy is affected by the cost of fuel. The so-called middle class and above may be able to afford it (but not like it) however its those on lower incomes that take it in the shorts.

I’m not making this up. We have been told by our leaders that the increased costs of fuel to heat and cool our homes and drive our cars is done on purpose. Why? To save us from ourselves. See paragraph 2 above. The end result is brownouts in the summer, cold winters, and inflation. What I don’t understand is that no one appears to care.

Elsewhere in my blog Mary Smith tell me I’m bashing EVs. Well, yeah. As I told her, I think that there are some EVs that are the greatest cars ever made. I just think its inappropriate for us to be forced into them. If you want to buy one, go for it. But don’t force me into it through higher fuel costs. And don’t use my taxes to support it. See paragraph four above.

The US is the third largest country on earth. Over the past few decades we have lowered our carbon output substantially while the two largest countries on earth have increased theirs. Between China and India they are causing more pollution than the rest of the world put together. Has anyone asked why they haven’t been tasked with correcting their environmental sins and America been allowed to go on our merry way? Give it a couple of days and I’m pretty sure a number of answers to that question will appear under this blog post.

Our industry is based on the automobile. The privately owned vehicle. Our country is of such a size, that alternatives to POVs are difficult to come by. The use of rapid transit and buses has not increased percentage wise in 70 years. Trillions of dollars have been invested in such transportation and its use has not increased. Why is that?

The first mile, last mile problem is not going to be wished away with uber and scooters. Someone pointed out to me that the main freeway from Atlanta airport to downtown has a high-speed train above it but the traffic on the freeway has not been reduced. People are still driving.

So, our government in its infinite wisdom is attempting to force us into those trains and buses by making its financially impossible not to. Reagan use to say that the most feared phrase in the English language was “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

My frustration is causing this post to meander around and its time for a brilliant conclusion. Except that there is none. We as a people continue to elect the same people time after time and we expect a different result. (Remember what Einstein said about doing the same thing over and over.)

I’m reaching a point where I copy Howard Beale from the movie Network who leaned out his window and yelled: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not taking it anymore.” The problem is that my windows are sealed and won’t open, and if they were able to open, there would be no one to hear me.

JVH

PS – the headline comes from a colleague. If we have to work two or three jobs just to survive, basically what is the use?

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