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Special Event Parking Services on a University Campus

On-campus parking is a commodity for faculty, staff and students. Accommodating additional parking for visitors attending campus tours, fine arts performances or large sporting events can be quite challenging.  At the University of Arizona, Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) coordinates parking for over 250 campus events each year. The Special Events staff assists with parking advice, suggestions and arrangements for events, banquets, workshops, ceremonies, meetings, performances, and conferences.

 

When planning an event on campus, where your guests will park is an important part of the planning process.  Most campuses offer different options for visitor parking such as meters, short term visitor lots and visitor parking in pay parking garages.  Most of these locations have a limited number of parking spaces and do not guarantee the stall will be available to visitors as they drive up without prior reservations.  When considering whether there is a need to make prior arrangements, we request that events bringing 75 or more vehicles to a specific location contact Special Event Operations.  In most cases, we can discuss parking reservations, lot monitors, pre-paid parking passes, and alternative options for your group. In some cases, non-traditional areas will be used as parking locations for your events such as off-site lots, lawns, unused sporting fields or concrete pads.  For an additional fee, we can add to the experience by providing a large van or golf cart shuttle service to escort your guests from their parking location to the event.   

How We Prepare a Reserved Parking Area

 

Event parking isn’t regular parking.  Most of the time, the areas used are lots and spaces that regular or permit holders use to park.  To prepare for large groups of vehicles parking in lots or garages, there are courteous notifications given to “regular” parking permit holders.  It may be in the form of an email blast to the permit holder, flyers on the windshield or simple signage on message boards or signs on stanchions at garage and lot entrances.  It is especially helpful when notification is sent several days in advance.   This helps to notify regular parkers to clear the section needed due to the event and also to give them extra time to get to another parking location.  

When signage messaging is clear, it will reduce the number of calls inquiring about the displacement.  It is imperative to be clear and consistent in your messaging and methods of notifying customers.  It is also important to provide customized directional signage for lots and garages on event days for guests.  These signs should provide parking directions, instructions for restricted or closed parking areas, and if a permit or fee is required. 
If an event chooses not to make prior arrangements for their guests, it is still great customer service to provide the event with alternate methods of getting to campus, how to use visitor parking locations and providing visitor maps and an informational website address for their guest.  We inform the event planner to be aware of events already happening on campus and the potential traffic obstacles their guests may encounter.  

Being aware of all events on campus allows PTS to better manage the limited parking available. Whether reservations are made or not, parking information is provided to staff on the special events calendar and in an internal weekly memo.  The weekly memo is shared with all of our parking employees, UA departments and various campus neighbors.  The information provided in the memo helps our garage, field, and enforcement employees to be aware of increases in motor vehicle traffic, pedestrians and visitors.  This memo also helps the campus police to recognize when there is unauthorized event activity in lots, garages and lawns.

Lastly, parking event monitors are scheduled to secure reserved spaces and to provide information on alternate parking locations for those required to relocate.  The monitors offer person to person interaction and peace of mind to the event planners by knowing their guests will have accommodations when coming to their campus event.

-Elisa Tapia, University of Arizona

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Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

It’s no secret that there are a lot of emotions on display these days – unfortunately most of them are not happy ones.  The recent election process andthe events since its completion have proven that we are a nation deeply divided and honestly, nobody is pleased with the way things are going.  Regardless of which side of the issues you’re on, you’re probably experiencing turmoil.  

Unfortunately some people are taking that emotion out on our employees, especially if you are in any way associated with government.  Those racist rants you see making their way around Facebook?  Or the anger turning to violence against innocent people going about their business?  If it hasn’t happened to your employees yet, it probably will.  It has hit us here in the City of Las Vegas pretty hard and we have had to figure out how to support our employees while still serving our customers.

On two occasions in the last month, our enforcement officers have been assaulted in the field doing their jobs.  The first was an Uber driver who shoved and yanked around the officer giving him a citation for parking at a red curb.  The second was a man in a neighborhood that objected to being cited and shoved the officer around.  Both men had prior records of assault, and one had an outstanding warrant.  And it’s not just parking – a city code enforcement officer was threatened with a shotgun recently.On top of this, a man came into our office to address a parking ticket and ended up going on a loud, long, racist rant, telling the staff they were going to be deported, they didn’t belong in this country, he couldn’t understand them because they couldn’t speak English – just like those rants you see on Facebook. The staff ended up in tears because of all the really awful things he said.

Those of us in parking are pretty used to angry customers.  We are appreciated by some people, but usually those who work alongside or elsewhere in our organizations.  The general public doesn’t look too favorably on us, and we’ve developed a pretty thick skin and ability to let the anger slide off.  While it is a necessary skill in our industry, it also, I think, does us a disservice when confronted with these types of situations.  We don’t push back, we let people have their say without getting into arguments, we retreat when faced with aggression and just all around don’t stir the pot.

But in the face of physical violence and racist, personally hurtful language, we don’t know what to do, really.  Our skills, so carefully developed, don’t diffuse or prevent escalation in these cases.  Both officers that were assaulted refused to press charges and our office staff didn’t call for backup.  So what should we do as employers to protect our employees?  We hire and train for the skill set that screams at us NOT to take action or call for help, so is it reasonable to expect our employees to all of a sudden ignore that instinct?  Not without a lot of discussion, reassurance, training and organizational support.


These situations are where I believe managers and employers need to step in and prove their worth.  We called a meeting with our law enforcement folks at
the highest levels.  We looked at state and local laws to see if there was legal
 action the City could take against those who assault our employees or harass them in the office.  We came up with a plan and spent a lot of time coaching our employees – and we will continue to do so.  Most importantly, we need to make sure we back up our talk.

Here’s what we did:

  • Charges are being pressed against the two people who physically assaulted our officers – by the city, not by the officers  
  • Our law enforcement officers are doing 3 times daily visits to our customer service office
  • All of our staff attended verbal judo classes – the ones taught to police officers that dive pretty deep into human psychology and help us predict reactions and use some “mind tricks” to keep us safe
  • We revised our panic button policy – previously employees were told they should only activate their panic buttons if there was an active shooter or they felt physically threatened – now, they are told to give a customer using foul language, racist or threatening remarks one warning and then get help
  • We stress over and over again to everyone that it is NOT okay for people to treat us that way.  If we don’t do anything, we are essentially telling them they can continue.  And what will happen when they come into contact with another city employee?  What about the people around that hear and see us treated that way with no consequences?

As managers and employers, we have an obligation to do our best to create a safe and positive workplace.  We need to support our employees who do such emotionally difficult jobs.  Remember, we’ve taught them skills that make it very difficult for them to make a stand and the onus is on us, not them, to make the change.

– Brandy Stanley, City of Las Vegas

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