The Solution to the Parking Problem

Automated parking systems improve the space efficiency and security of a parking structure
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Sponsored by CityLift Parking
By Jeanette Fitzgerald Pitts
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The Most Common Question

According to the industry-leading manufacturer of automated parking systems, when designers hear about these systems, they are immediately intrigued, and they see the problem-solving benefit and the value. But they do usually have one question: “What causes the system to break down?”

These automated systems do not break down often. In fact, they have an uptime of 99.6 percent, and that 0.4 percent of downtime is the amount of time it takes the technician to get to the site and fix the problem.

In fact, the most common errors are user related: an issue using the touchscreen kiosk, something keeping the gate from closing and moving the cars, tenants forgetting the gate is down and backing into it, or dropping the fob or keys between the lifts. Occasionally, a sensor may need to be adjusted, which a technician can quickly accommodate, and the system is electronic, so it requires electricity to operate. But, in terms of breaking down, these systems have been engineered in such a way that they work reliably, and the manufacturers offers thorough training and support to aid any issues that may occur as patrons and employees learn how to operate the automated parking system.

Getting Started with Automated Parking

Automated parking systems can be incorporated into new construction or retrofit projects. The first step to determine if one of these systems is the right fit for a project is to reach out to an automated parking manufacturer. These teams will often have a very close working relationship with the design team as it relates to finalizing the design of the system and attaining the necessary permits from the city. The best place to start the discussion is with parking CAD files or schematic drawings. The supporting team at the manufacturer will take a closer look at the city guidelines and specific permits that are required to move forward. In terms of timing, every project is different, but use nine months as a starting point from the time the order is submitted to the date of the completed installation, depending on the size of the project.

In Closing

Automated parking systems are an innovative solution to a parking problem that has plagued many projects in urban areas. As people continue to move to big cities and land values climb, designers have struggled to provide the necessary parking spaces within the constraints of the site, without breaking the budget of the building. Now there is a space-savvy parking system that offers a number of additional benefits, including improved safety and security of the parking structure, and sustainability-related objectives such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions and decreased use of construction materials. Incorporating these systems into a design can return precious square footage to the plan, allowing designers to deliver more amenities than originally thought possible and reducing the scope of costly and risky excavations.

The next time a project faces a parking-related issue, be it capacity, available space, site constraint, or budget, explore whether an automated parking system can offer the solution.

Jeanette Fitzgerald Pitts has written nearly 100 continuing education courses exploring the benefits of incorporating new building products, systems, and processes into project design and development.


CityLift Parking CityLift Parking designs, installs, and services automated parking lifts that save space and reduce building costs and construction time. The company is headquartered in Oakland, California, with offices in Los Angeles and Boston.


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Originally published in January 2020