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Parking Vs. Pop Culture ‘ParkingWars’ By Isaiah Mouw and Matthew Clay Parking vs. Pop Culture is a series of articles dedicated to sig-

nificant parking references found in pop culture. The winner, either parking or pop culture, will be determined by whether the parking ended as a positive or negative experience in the particular pop cul- ture reference. This issue’s parking reference is taken from the A&E Television Networks series “Parking Wars.”

When people ask us what we do for a living, we ask if they have ever seen the TV show “Parking Wars,” and go on to explain that what is seen on the show is exact- ly what we do for a living. “Parking Wars” is a reality

TV series that follows the day-to- day interactions of traffic enforce- ment officers of the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) with the city’s parking public. (The Detroit Municipal Parking Department was added as a filming location in the third season.) Now in its fourth season, with additional filming in Hoboken, NJ, the series first aired on Jan. 8, 2008, on theA&E TV network.

ParkingToday recently ran a

blog on their website entitled, “We Deserve Better than ParkingWars” which begins by asking the ques- tion, “How do you have a profes- sional industry if you don’t have a modicum of self-respect?” The question is an introduction to how ParkingToday believes the show “ParkingWars” not the great- est PR for the parking industry and only depicts people at their worst. (See Sidebar)

“ParkingWars” actually got

Basically, reality shows depict people at their worst. They are shown making fools of themselves, and the public can’t get enough of it.

its start about nine years ago, when Hybrid Films did an hour documentary on the Philadel- phia Parking Authority as a spe- cial for an A&E Investigative Report. The production compa- ny had a history of making doc- umentaries in non-fiction TV, such as dealing with law enforcement, hostage negotia- tions and homicide detectives. A&E, along with the PPA, was

real happy with documentary, which led to discussions that even- tually led to the series. Naysayers in the parking industry contend that “Parking Wars” hurts the industry because the series focuses on ticketing,

JVH:We Deserve Better than ‘Parking Wars’ How do you have a professional industry if you don’t have

a modicum of self-respect? Look, I’m the first guy to set myself up for a few laughs, most richly deserved. Self-deprecation is a tool used by most in the public eye to

increase their public image. Fair enough. But I believe that the trait can be taken too far, and the ongoing series “ParkingWars” does that. I understand that the folks at the Philly Parking Authority

and the series’ producers think that the result of the show is pos- itive. The enforcement staff has been quoted as saying that the attitude of Philly parkers toward them has been much more pos- itive since the series began. Obviously, the public likes “ParkingWars.” It’s been

renewed for another season, and Hollywood doesn’t make a series that doesn’t sell. (Heck, even the IPI promoted it at its convention last year.) It’s a TV reality show. It’s inexpensive to make, and the fans

eat it up. Basically, reality shows depict people at their worst. They

are shown making fools of themselves, and the public can’t get enough of it. On this series, the “reality actors” yell and scream while the

poor browbeaten enforcement staff takes the guff and comes back for more. The story line is perfect. Yep, parking causes problems, and there are plenty of people to react negatively to it. We are a professional industry.We generate billions in rev-


enue each year.We build large structures that house our prod- uct.We create millions of jobs.We deal with the public every day, day after day. Our errors cause huge political upheavals. Our “wins” solve a myriad of problems.We touch almost every aspect of daily life. The parking industry has a lot of which to be proud. Can’t

we somehow tell that story? “ParkingWars” certainly doesn’t. I prefer to think that my industry is made up of innovators

who are trying new ideas almost daily. Pay-by-cell, credit cards onmeters, pay-and-display, pay-on-foot, parking guidance and automated parking systems, in-street data collection, parking apps, LED lighting – they all work toward making parking easi- er and better for our customers. You want “green” – the parking industry can give you

green in spades. Whether it’s LEED-approved structures or solar panels on the roof, it’s there. What about the campaign to get electric-vehicle charging stations in garages or systems to speed up parking and thus reduce pollution? The concept of market-based on-street pricing of parking

could actually do more to reduce congestion in downtown areas than all the rules and laws considered by many city councils. We are a good industry.We are coming of age.We are a

proud group of pros who make lives easier for drivers every day.We deserve better than “ParkingWars.”

Parking Today

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