Founding of IPI
The International Parking Institute is 50 years old and few members are aware of how it started, who the players were, and what motivated them in the early days. This article is intended to provide readers with an understanding of the founding of IPI (formerly known as IMPC – Institutional and Municipal Parking Congress).
During the 1930s, the Great Depression drastically slowed automobile production as well as garage construction. During World War II, no cars were made, automobile tires were unobtainable, and the average motorist received ration stamps good for fewer than four gallons of gasoline per week. To make a trip, it was necessary to go to the Ration Board and explain why you were going. Maybe they would give you the extra gasoline ration stamps, and maybe not.
After World War II, most returning servicemen had an automobile at the top of their shopping lists. Assembly lines that had been turning out tanks, airplanes, and trucks switched over to automobiles and were rolling them out 24 hours a day. It was common to wait as long as six months for a new car. Servicemen and war workers had saved their money, and there was plenty available to buy new cars. With the ready availability of automobiles, people could move beyond the streetcar lines and into subdivision houses.
Most industry was still located in or near downtowns, along with virtually all offices, shopping, entertainment, banking, government, and business. Downtown was where the action was. Suburban shopping centers, urban sprawl, expressways, outlying business areas, and offices were not to come until the 50s and 60s.
It wasn’t long before many downtowns were beginning to feel the crunch of automobiles pouring in from the suburbs and everyone seemed to be looking for a place to park. Curb spaces and a few off-street lots filled quickly and the demand for parking spaces began to skyrocket.
Complaints were beginning to be heard from motorists with no place to park, merchants whose customers had no place to park, and business people whose customers and clients could not come downtown because of the lack of parking. A chorus of cries for parking began to be raised with most noise coming from a number of major northern cities, including Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Pittsburgh.
Elected officials were hearing most of the complaints from business leaders as well as motorists about the lack of parking in business areas. A number of cities and government agencies began to look at ways they could go about providing parking. There were a variety of approaches; some of these include the establishment of parking authorities, parking commissions, city parking agencies, and revenue authorities. Assorted citizen groups and business leaders worked to find some way to solve the parking problem. The next step was getting some type of legislation passed to help them do the job. This usually included the enactment of state legislation with some method of floating bonds, the legal establishment of a parking agency, and providing staff to do the work.
It became evident that virtually no one knew how to go about this—no trained officials, no parking engineers, no administrators. Some of the early challenges had to do with terminology. Terms used today, such as “parking demand,” “parking characteristics,” “duration,” and “trip purpose,” were virtually unknown in the field. At workshops in the very early days, most of the discussions centered around such things as managing street parking and debates about the relative merits of angle versus parallel parking.
It was difficult to figure out how many parking spaces were needed, since parking studies and their techniques were also unknown. Procedures for land acquisition, floating of bond issues (also new), and the basic design of the garage and its operation caused all types of mayhem. Inexperienced architects designed many lemons that were practically impossible to enter and exit, and were often half self-park and half attendant-park, making them difficult to operate.
Not everyone was in favor of municipal parking. The private parking industry was just getting organized and was strongly opposed to any type of government intrusion into private business. Many private operators said that providing parking facilities was their business and that government should not become involved. They fought at every available council and legislative meeting to prevent the establishment and operation of parking authorities and commissions.
The Detroit Municipal Parking Authority was established in 1948 and John D. McGillis was appointed its first director (and entire staff). McGillis had been a public relations man and newspaper writer and was very familiar with city government. He was at a loss as to how to go about solving the worsening parking problems. The parking authority was involved in numerous lawsuits, public and private meetings, and debates over what to do with parking in Detroit.
In 1953, McGillis went to his mayor and city council and received their concurrence to visit the American Municipal Association (AMA) headquarters in Chicago and ask for their help. The AMA, which later changed its name to the National League of Cities (NLC), was most interested in solving municipal problems. That summer, McGillis met with the organization’s Executive Director, Carl Chatters, who was quite receptive and proved to be an effective ally. He offered the limited resources of his office and put together material with McGillis for the association’s President, Mayor William H. Kemp of Kansas City. The recommendation was that the AMA form a committee on parking. It consisted primarily of mayors, elected city officials, town engineers, and city traffic engineers.
The committee went to work trying to develop a policy involving parking. This new policy took the form of a statement that parking was the responsibility of the municipality, which should take every step to deal with the issue through systematic study, acquisition, and construction, along with operation and management. The policy report was reviewed by the complete committee, which recommended that it be forwarded to the AMA’s general membership for approval. The report suggested that the parking committee conduct research, analyze the cost of off-street parking, and make a study of municipalities. Each member of the committee agreed to compile the parking experiences of several municipalities in his section of the country.
A number of organizational meetings took place. By now parking had become a hot topic at the AMA Annual Congress. Speakers at these meetings included city traffic engineers and transit officials. Even with two concurrent parking sessions at the AMA Annual Congress, the attendance was so large that people were standing against the walls. At the next committee meeting, it was agreed that a workshop should be held the following year and that several days would be devoted to the discussion of parking. This idea, brought forth by McGillis, was uniformly applauded.
From then on, things moved fast. A program was prepared and invitations sent out. The event was called the First International Workshop Meeting, was held at the Veterans Memorial Building in Detroit, and was cosponsored by the Detroit Parking Authority on October 22 and 23, 1956. A number of parking authorities sent their executive directors, parking commissioners, and authority members as well as elected and appointed public officials. The meeting lasted for two days and broke into a number of panel discussions, seminars, and roundtable discussions. The subjects would be quite elementary to today’s well-informed parking professionals.
By 1960, at the annual AMA Congress meeting in New York, McGillis called a separate dinner meeting of a number of active members. He and the others determined that interest in a separate organization was growing and the time had arrived to consider breaking off from the AMA. The sponsorship and good reception that had always been given by the AMA was well noted, but we all felt that the time had come to establish our own organization.
The decision to proceed was made informally; therefore, there were no formal minutes or resolutions that determined that IMPC should be established.
Later that year, Chairman McGillis appointed a three-man committee to draft a proposed constitution and bylaws for a new parking association. The chairman appointed Vining Fisher, director of the San Francisco Parking Authority, Robert G. Bundy, general manager of the Toronto Parking Authority, and me.
Considerable discussion took place over how the association should be established. We decided to set up an organization along the lines of the AMA. Under this relationship, the organization would be the member and appoint a delegate to serve as its representative in association affairs. Other classes of membership were set up to take in others within the field. These were worked out in detail and put into formal language of the constitution and bylaws. They were completed shortly before the 1961 workshop meeting held in Norfolk, Va.
At that meeting, I presented the constitution and bylaws to the delegates and answered questions. Many suggestions and recommendations were received from the floor. The committee went back to work with plans to propose a new draft to the membership in the next meeting, in Nashville, Tenn., in May 1962.
The Annual Business Meeting was held at the morning session on May 16, 1962 at which time all the delegate members in attendance approved the constitution and bylaws, formally establishing IMPC. The organization was officially called the Institutional and Municipal Parking Congress.
IMPC Evolves Into IPI
In 1995, as parking took on a more significant role and organizations realized the impact of parking in their operations, the association’s name was updated to the International Parking Institute (IPI). The name change reflected a new scope and direction for the association as well as the formation of a network to connect parking professionals from around the world. The number of members has grown, but the purpose of IPI remains much the same as it was when it was first founded: to provide leadership, information, education, and networking opportunities to all members of the parking industry.
Throughout the history of the Committee on Parking of the AMA and the actual founding of the IMPC, a number of people helped and contributed their time, their efforts, and their knowledge to establish what was IMPC and now known as IPI.
By the time it became apparent that IMPC was a necessary organization, a number of professionals had come forward and were taking an active role in establishment of the Congress. These people should be called “founders.” They worked tirelessly, gave their time, and, in many cases, their own money to attend meetings and organize sessions.
The founders of IMPC are: John D. McGillis, Robert G. Bundy, CAPP, Robert J. Kelly, James A. Hunnicutt, CAPP, Louis P. Farina, Merritt A. Neale, Edward A. Jochumsen, Fenton G. Jordan, Walter King, Thomas J. Coyle, H. H. Dees and Arthur Lomax.