Walker Headlights: Jonathan Wicks
Jonathan Wicks joined Walker’s Parking Operations Consulting Group after 10 years of leadership positions with private parking operators. Based out of the Los Angeles office, he covers the West Coast. He has expertise in all manners of parking including Class A commercial garages, hotel, event and stadium, on street valet, mixed use, municipalities, off-airport, and flat lots.
He has developed parking policy and procedures and consulted for the City of Beverly Hills, SFMTA, Starwood, CIM, LBA, the Irvine Company, and the Counties of Santa Clara, Alameda, and Contra Costa. He is a forward thinking parking operator who has recently led work in mobile App development and EV implementation.
We had a chance to sit down with Jonathan and ask him a few questions. Check out his story in this month’s Walker Headlights!
Q: How did you get started in the parking/transportation industry?
A: I had just graduated college and my girlfriend’s sister’s fiancé got me into parking management. He was managing the valet at the W Hotel in Westwood, CA whose new nightclub was popular with celebrities at the time. It was so busy in the evenings, the valet manager used to say a prayer before each shift hoping all the valets scheduled to work would show up. They needed bodies just to move cars off the public street, service was an afterthought. I was referred for the assistant manager position and was hired but placed at another hotel, the Century Plaza in Century City, CA. I was 25 years old and managing union valets who’d worked at that hotel longer than I’d been alive.
Q: What are some of the big lessons you learned while working for private parking operators?
A: You absolutely must know your sub-markets and on-street conditions. If a garage a half-block away changes their rate structure, you as an operator must respond accordingly or miss out on potential revenue for your client.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about your role as a parking consultant at Walker?
A: I believe our projects at Walker have real world implications and immediate benefits for the public at large. Not only do we aim to make the act of parking a more pleasant experience, we right size parking, so garages are not overbuilt. This saves developers and members of the public money in the long run and hopefully leaves space for more desirable and beneficial land uses.
Q: What’s the most exciting part of being in parking consulting?
A: Every day is different. I can work on one project for weeks at a time, or several projects in a day. Each equally interesting and almost all offer growth and learning opportunities.
Q: You have been a part of many projects here at Walker, can you pinpoint your favorite?
A: I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Honolulu, HI twice for projects this year. I should discount that work more to get repeat business on the islands.
Q: What trends do you see in the parking industry?
A: Parking will change in 2 major ways over the next 5 – 10 years. 1) Connected cars will communicate with parking equipment and garages to not only pay for parking but also find available stalls. Google recently launched a feature on their Waze app which helps drivers find parking at their destination. 2) The driving public will begin to transition to self-driving vehicles which will more efficiently use public and private parking supply in central business districts.
Q: When working with a city to develop parking policy and procedures, what do you find to be the most interesting part of the process?
A: Parking is like the game of baseball. The game is the same no matter where you play, but each city has a different stadium with unique dimensions and character. Helping a city maintain their local character while solving for parking problems everyone has been experiencing is very satisfying.
Q: You like to travel – what’s a favorite place that you have visited?
A: Croatia. I’ve been 2 summers in a row and hope to go back next year.
Q: Have you noticed any differences in the parking culture of other countries versus the U.S.?
A: Reserved parking in parts of Europe is managed through a pop-up lock which resembles a bike stand. Only the owner of the stall can unlock and use the space.
Q: What parking innovation are you most excited for?
A: I think autonomous cars are inevitable and will make city living the optimal use of our planet’s limited resources.
Q: What kind of parking mobile apps do you think will be used in the future?
A: I think pay-by-phone apps which make paying for parking easier will continue to grow, especially as mobile wallets replace credit cards as the preferred payment device for many Americans.
Q: If you weren’t working in parking, what do you think you’d be doing?
A: Probably on a beach in Croatia writing poetry.
Q: In your downtime, what do you like to do for fun?
A: I love being outside. Beach volleyball and hiking are passions of mine.
Q: What would we find you doing on a typical weekend?
A: I would definitely be near a beach somewhere.
Q: I’m sensing a strong beach theme. What is something about you that doesn’t involve sand?
A: I once sang on stage, poorly, with Shania Twain.
Thank you, Jonathan!
If you’d like to get in touch with Jonathan, you can reach him here.