Thursday, January 11, 2007

Put Up A Parking Lot

Last night, while driving in circles in Northwest DC looking for a place to park my car, I realized that I know everything there is to know about opening and managing a parking garage in Washington, DC.

First, find an existing building with a basement that has as many steel support beams as possible. You will need these so you can position the parking space paint lines just so, ensuring that each parking space has one, possibly two, enormous structures preventing anyone not in a Mini Cooper from parking. Not counting those people who consider their side mirrors optional equipment.

Be sure to post numerous assurances that you are not responsible for damage to vehicles.

Next, find a sign shop that makes the smallest signs possible, so that no one will be able to actually see your garage entrance until they have already driven past it. No one wants to know that there is a safe place to park while they are still two blocks away. People love surprises and impromptu neighborhood tours as they circle the block.

And speaking of circling, it is really preferable if you select a location that is bordered by as many one way streets as possible. Putting your garage on the right hand side of the street when all cars enter the street with a left hand turn is also quite delightful.

It is also important that you seek to destroy as many undercarriages as you can. Accomplish this by assuring that the entrance to the garage is never level. It should roughly resemble a double black diamond ski slope. Make sure the street is a fairly busy one, so cars will have to enter the garage nearly at speed to avoid being rear ended. Post those signs about vehicle damage being tough shit nearby.

Open your garage in a neighborhood with plenty of restaurants, shops, and other nightlife. Then make sure your operating hours end at 6pm on the dot. Post signs telling people that if they do not make it to the garage by 6pm sharp on Friday, their car will not be available until Monday morning. Then charge them for weekend storage.

Absolutely do not consider taking any form of payment other than cash. And make sure your garage is a long walk from the nearest ATM machine. Get in cahoots with a cab company that can take your patrons to the bank because you refuse to open the gate and release the car when the parking bill is seven dollars and they are fifty cents short. Make sure to remind them to return by 6pm.

The first nine hundred spaces, along with any spaces located remotely near an elevator or staircase, should be reserved for monthly parking permit holders. Note: always have zero monthly parking permits available for purchase.

It is better if your garage and accompanying stairwells are poorly lit. Otherwise the muggers will be forced to buy masks, an unpleasant business expense. Make sure those signs indicating that you aren't responsible for damage to vehicles also note that you aren't responsible for damage to actual people, either.

In fact, do not be responsible for anything except collecting cash. Preferably exact change.

Once you have successfully opened your garage, sit back and enjoy your profits. And sell your car - because of course you know the metro is much easier.

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