Making “Happy Parking Lot” Sharing Alleys
Happy Parking Lot Resident Committee of Doksan 4-dong
The experiment of Doksan 4-dong to make “Happy Parking Lot” Sharing Alleys is interesting in many ways. First of all, this is an attempt to solve one of the most severe problems of Seoul which is the parking issue in the resident areas. Also, this is an attempt to transform the paradigm from ownership to sharing. This is an attempt to solve the most difficult problem in the most innovative way.
This is also an attempt to solve the problems of “our residence” by “our residents.” It is still not that easy. It is difficult to find someone who comes forward to solve everybody’s problem, but it is even more difficult to make a new way to follow when everybody is already accustomed to the old way.
But this does not mean that the residents were the only ones who made actions. The role of the very first “Citizen Chief of the Dong (Sub-district)” who was selected through citizen application was also very important. Moreover, the “residents” were the main leaders, but the resident community center and the district office provided support and the enterprises and experts with technology added their help. This was truly a “beautiful companion” with cooperation of private-public and industry-academia.
Making “Happy Parking Lot” Sharing Alleys; More parking space with more sharing
“Wouldn’t it be possible to reduce parking problems if we share the parking lots in the alleys by eliminating resident-priority parking lots?”
There is no need to explain how serious the parking problems are in Seoul. In particular, the parking problem in the alleys are one of the most severe ones that citizens want to solve in the first priority.
“Happy Parking Lot Resident Committee of Doksan 4-dong” decided to solve this problem through “Making “Happy Parking Lot” Sharing Alleys Project.”
The experiment is divided into three main stages. The first stage is to eliminate the resident-priority parking lot system and introduce sharing parking lot system so that anyone can “share” the parking space that is empty during day time. In the evening when the residents return to the alley, the cars that have permission to park at the resident-priority parking lots can share the parking lots among themselves. This meant that the permitted cars could be parked at any empty resident-priority parking lot. This can solve the problem of the parking space problem, even if some non-residents cars park their cars until late.
The next stage is to install vehicle-sensing-boards (sensors) in parking areas of the alleys and have a information board in the entrance of the alleys for parking information to reduce the number of drive-in of the non-resident cars.
The final stage is to introduce “car sharing” that the residents can freely use to reduce the growth in the number of cars.
There was also a plan to use the public and private parking areas nearby for sharing parking lots for the evening hours when there are a lot of cars.
One day in the beginning of September, we met Sangmin Jung, the Project Manager of this experiment. He said that the core of this experiment is to change the parking system where a few residents have an ownership to the shared one. Since the ten-year-old “resident-priority parking system” is showing its limitation, he was determined to show the effectiveness of the “shared parking system” through this experiment. This was another experiment of “sharing.” Sangmin Jung thinks that it is difficult not to follow the new paradigm of solving the urban problems by “sharing.”
“It is important to solve the parking problems, but more importantly, the purpose lies in making the “people-centered alleys” where people can walk comfortably and safely. In other words, this is an experiment to transform from a car-centered parking system to a people-centered one.”
Alleys are not only the streets and resting areas that residents pass by everyday, but also the place where cars and garbages gather. At night, the area sometimes turns into the dangerous place vulnerable to crime. In that sense, alleys are the closest but also the most uncomfortable areas to the residents. That is why the experimental projects related to the alleys are very important – The changes of the alleys can change the lives of residents.
“The paradigm that we will inherit to our next generation is “sharing” and “communication.” It is ok not to hit the 10 point target. It is good enough to make a step forward through everyone’s participation.” He got involved in this experiment with this attitude.
The world changes when alleys change
· Status Examination
Sangmin Jung, the Project Manager, came out to the alley everyday ever since he got informed of this final selection for funding. He took notes of everything that happened in the alleys: a daily number of cars parked, number of those illegally parked among them, number of passing cars, and even those that illegally pass the one-way alleys in the opposite direction. He took notes of those by day and time in detail.
In October, the number of cars that were parked in the alleys during 12:00-14:00 were 231 in total, which was less than 262 that of 20:00-22:00, whereas there were more illegally parked cars in the day time each being 126 and 117 respectively. The highest number of passing cars were 16:00-18:00 with 726 cars, which was the double of that during 12:00-14:00 which was 344. The very first database for car traffic in alleys was made.
However, the most important information, the cars with the resident-priority permission and the owners of those cars were not easy to identify. A sticker indicating the cars with the permission was given to the owners by the Facilities Management Corporation, but most of the owners did not use the stickers.
A request was made to the Corporation asking for the information, but for some unknown reasons they kept delaying and the list of registered plates were obtained only after two months. So the only way to find out the owner was to wait until the car came in to the parking lot. It was possible to meet the last 14th owner of the car at 2 AM in the morning.
During the current status examination, he actively tried to get to know the residents by saying hello first and talking to them. However, the first reaction was very cold.
· Questions and Answers by Meeting People
Sangmin Jung started to talk to the residents in the alleys during his free time. He explained that the “sharing experiment” is in the process and he also asked for their opinions.
Many did not want to respond to his questions but some talked to him to express their thoughts. Some requested solving the problem of illegal parking and some said that building more parking lots is more important. It was hard not to be embarrassed when some said that they understand the good purpose of this project, but they do not want this project to be done in front of their building.
After a month, he constructed a survey and asked people to answer whenever he met people both residents and non-residents. He also made it possible to answer online through survey functions of a portal website. He asked about parking time, difficulties and thoughts on shared parking. The result was interesting.
On the question “What is the most difficult factor in parking?”, 58% of respondents answered that “Illegal parking makes parking difficult.” The next most popular response rated 17% saying that “the distance between the residence and the parking lot is far”, but more interestingly, 22% answered that they are “satisfied.”
On the suggestion “Would you participate in sharing the resident-priority parking area?”, 82% of the residents said “yes.” Only 9% answered that “it would be uncomfortable.”
As Jung kept saying hello everyday in the alleys, the residents started to open their heart. Some gave drinks and bread encouraging him and some even brought out their portable burner and a pot to cook instant noodles for him. He was very happy but because of this irregular unhealthy eating habits instead of regular meals, the PM Jung gained 13kg in just three months.
He realized once again that putting time and effort is the most effective way to open people’s heart.
· Happy Parking Lot Resident Committee of Doksan 4-dong Meeting
The first meeting of the Happy Parking Lot Resident Committee of Doksan 4-dong was held right after the Chusoek Holidays on September 28th 2016 at 15:00 at the “ㅎ” cafe managed by the PM Jung.
The leader of the Committee, SoonOh Park, the PM Sangmin Jung, Sangmin Kang, the leader of the resident independent committee, two leaders of Tong and two committee members came to the meeting. Seok-yeon Hwang, the chief of Dong and two government officials also came to the meeting.
The moderator, PM Jung started the meeting.
“The progress is too slow. There was not much done during this one month. Too much work is concentrated only on me.” He expressed his upset feelings as he was exhausted after one-month of hectic work. He complained that he asked for some suggestions for a catch phrase that could be used on the backdrop through the messenger application that the members used, but no answer came back.
“So you should first suggest some samples and ask for opinions rather than just asking for ideas,” said Shinhwan Kang, the leader of the resident independent committee, and the atmosphere got a bit heavy.
The age group between 30 and 60, people from different ways of life gathered to solve the problem together. Everyone puts their own experience and decision forward but no one’s opinion has more importance. That is why this process seems to be a bit messy and more time is needed to make a decision.
Nevertheless, not everything was slow. Right after the suggestion was made to give out the windshield washer fluid and dishcloth to those who respond to the survey, the leader of the resident independent committee called the owner of the local mart to check the price and selection choice. As the answer was not satisfying, he promised to look for more information.
As the PM Sangmin Jung said that if is difficult to meet residents, the leaders of Tong took the lead. They promised to go to the alleys with him as much as they can. In “resident meetings” the work and daily life were integrated like this.
During this meeting, the design of the sign and logo was discussed so that people can identify the project leaders and the project. Also, it was decided that a paper board be installed prior to the electronic one.
· Information Session for the Residents
The first information session was held at the Somang Sangsang Children Park located in the alley at the evening on October 3rd. This was the first gathering for the residents, as well as the day to inform the beginning of the experiment.
At 7 PM sharp, the leader of the Happy Parking Lot Resident Committee, SoonOh Park announced the opening and Shinhwan Kang, the leader of the resident independent committee made his greeting remarks.
“Sharing is the challenge of this era.” His talk was as good as the ones of politicians and the message was also very clear.
Next, the PM Jung introduced the experiment in very simple words giving very good explanations.
“Nothing much is changed. We will make sure that no inconvenience is caused to the residents.”
About 20 residents gathered at the park listened to the talk. A number of children of the residence were playing in the playground just like any other day. Not only residents were there. Parking Team employees of the Geuncheon-gu and the Facilities Management Corporation were there to observe the alleys closely.
This was not something common, yet still very warm to see. Something that gives an explanation what the “Living Lab Experiment” is.
Lastly, Seok-yeon Hwang, the chief of Dong took the floor.
“The very first experiment in the world is taking place in our residence.”
He talked about many ideas that he has in mind to change the situation of alleys of Donksan 4-dong including parking sharing. Finally, everybody gave a warm applause expressing their consent to participate in the experiment.
Now, it was the turn for the residents to raise their voice.
“We are afraid to contact the illegally parked car owners because we might get into fight,” “We would like to have a speed bump installed in the entrance of the alley as there are kindergarten, children park and center for the elderly,” “There is a public parking area in the nearby alley which is empty at night. What if that area is used by the residents?”
The night of the Alley 126 Shiheungdaero of the Geumcheon-gu got deeper with those questions.
· Decorating the Alleys
There was not much difference until the beginning of October, which was the second month of the experiment. The installation of parking sensors and boards were also being delayed for various reasons. The effect of talking to people was also limited. So, there was a new idea to use pictograms that would provide some visual effects in many places of the alleys.
The Committee members gathered altogether one day. They coloured the electricity poles with various pictograms and made an information board explaining the concept of parking sharing in easy words. Also, the game boards from the childhood were drawn on the floors of alleys to recall the alleys where children used to run around without worrying about cars.
Skyblue paint which symbolizes sharing was painted on electricity poles and the slogans such as “slowly,” “clean,” “like a family,” “safely,” and “let’s share” were written. The purpose was to naturally send the message to the residents. This was a hard work lasting more than five hours.
The effect of visual change was very effective. One resident came out to the alley to throw away his garbage, but went back in after seeing nicely painted poles. The attitude towards the alleys of the people started to change slowly.
· Sharing Parking Areas
It is not easy to change habits. Especially when the actions of people have influence on others. This experiment was like that.
In order to share 14 resident-priority parking lots among 14 car owners, you should park at an empty resident-priority parking lot in case the space where you used to park is occupied by another participant of the project. However, it is not easy to change your behaviour. Also, you can be worried about the reaction of the person when you park at another parking lot where another participant used to park. Everything was uncertain.
Therefore, the PM Sangmin Jung had to get involved everytime. He waited at the alley and he ran after the participant of the project when he/she parked at his originally designated parking spot. He asked them to park at another empty spot. However, even those who agreed and sign the agreement to participate in the project did not want the change at first. They also complained a lot.
One day, the PM Jung found a person who had a resident-priority parking lot who did not know what to do because there was an illegally parked car at his allocated parking space and the owner was not answering the phone. He had not declared his willingness to participate in the project yet. The PM Jung approached him carefully and asked whether he would try to park at another empty place. Then, he understood the concept of the project and happily agreed to sign the agreement. He also put the sticker on his car which had the logo “From ownership to sharing, Happy Parking Lot Resident Committee.”
Habits do not change immediately, but an opportunity can come suddenly.
· A Walk through the Alleys
In the morning of October 17th, Honorary Professor at the Politecnico di Milano, Ezio Manzini (75) who is the leading expert in the area of design for social innovation visited the alley. This was on occasion for “A Walk through the Alleys with Innovation Administration and Innovation Design” where a world-famous social innovation designer and the innovation public administrators of Korea gathered together. On this day, Seungchang Ha, Vice Mayor for Political Affairs of Seoul, Seongsoo Cha, Head of District Office of Geumcheon-gu and Seok-yeon Hwang, the chief of Dong walked through the alleys with Professor Manzini.
As soon as the explanation of the PM Jung started, Professor Manzini and others poured with the questions. “What is the difference between the illegal and the legal parking?,” “How is the illegal parking dealt with?,” “What difference do the sensors and the boards make?,” “What is the purpose of introducing shared parking in the alleys?” etc.
PM Jung continued to answer the questions without any worries. He got used to answering this kind of questions in the past month through talks with the residents.
“By installing sensors in the parking areas and having boards in the entrance of the alleys, we will be able to inform how many empty parking lots are available. In this way, we can reduce number of passing cars and prevent car traffic. Also, by sharing the space that used to be owned by a single household more cars can share the parking area.”
Everyone was very curious to hear how shared parking would solve the parking problem given the situation where the number of parking lots cannot be increased but the number of cars are continuously increasing. They also showed their interest in the pictograms on the poles.
After looking around the alleys for about 30 mins, the group headed towards the Somang Sangsang Children Park. A big backdrop saying “Opening the Future from the Alleys” welcomed the group next to the stage and more than 30 residents were already waiting at the seats.
Byung-Kwon Kim, Head of Seoul Innovation Park started the talk with the greetings to the residents. The first question was on the impression after walking around the alleys.
“Shared parking experiment seems to be an innovative attempt in the sense that it is trying to efficiently use the unused parking space. To make a bit more fundamental suggestion, what if we ban cars in the alleys? In this way, the residents will be able to make a better use of the alleys.”
He also presented the case of Barcelona, Spain where former social activist Ada Colau became a mayor in May 2015 and is trying to make a city without cars. He added that in order to make safe alleys for children, this kind of trials are also necessary.
Next, Seungchang Ha, Vice Mayor for Political Affairs of Seoul continued.
“All the experiments are very interesting, especially in the sense that the residents are making the changes by themselves. As there are more experience of making common decisions, many more things can be planned in the future. I look forward to many more changes in this residence.”
He added further that it is important to share the experiences and mentioned that having a “no-car alley festival” and sharing the experience can be helpful to make a step forward.
Seongsoo Cha, Head of District Office of Geumcheon-gu suggested restricting the entrance of the non-resident cars mentioning the case of Europe.
“Residents tend to drive more carefully in the alleys because this is the place where their children and neighbours are. In this way, we can make a space for children to play around.”
He said that building one parking area costs more than 100 million Won and that there must be some harmonious alternatives to give the alleys back to the residents without reducing parking space. He also thanked the residents who helped out by saying that he wishes the new ideas of the residents will not only solve the local problems but also restore the community.
The second question was “What are the ways to strengthen the role of citizens in the process of social innovation?”
Professor Manzini said that it is more important to create an environment where people want to participate rather than persuading them to participate. When the system is there, people will naturally participate. He added that infrastructure where people can try out new attempts and a clear vision are necessary.
Seungchang Ha, Vice Mayor for Political Affairs, said that citizens’ distrust in government administration became much bigger because they did not share the information. He emphasized that the information sharing is necessary. Also, he added that there is a need to divide the decision making power. “As people experience that they can actually make a difference by participating, the citizen participation will go to the next level,” he said.
Seongsoo Cha, Head of District Office of Geumcheon-gu said that it is important to convert private interests into public agenda. Government administration should work harder so that people can feel the changes that the resident participation has made.
During the Q&A session from the residents, one elementary school student said that children would like to have a space where they can run around and play without worries. Professor Manzini answered that he would also need such a space, making the audience laugh together.
One hour of talk passed really quickly. Professor Manzini closed the talk saying that “Seoul is one of the top 3 cities where social innovation is very actively in place. You can all be very proud of this fact. From now on, the case of Doksan 4-dong will be another example of social innovation that I will be presenting in other countries.”
· An Expert Meeting
An expert in transportation, Shinhae Lee, senior researcher of the Seoul Institute visited the alleys on October 28th to provide some advice on the experiment by the invitation of the Happy Parking Lot Resident Committee. She was also one of the reviewers during the selection process of the projects.
“Building relationship among people is very important for “sharing.” The promise is in the fundament of sharing. There is less conflict when people who know each other share among themselves and even if there are some incidents for conflit, they do not get unnecessarily bigger than it should be.”
Shinhae Lee thinks that people can participate in the project without knowing each other, but by exchanging contact information and getting to know each other, they will be able to not only work together to share the parking lots but also work on many more initiatives.
“Now only 14 parking lots are shared among 14 residents, but if the people who have different parking hour patterns can be grouped in more than two, it would be possible to make rules and designate time for sharing parking lots.”
Also, she suggested that if there is enough time, it would be nice to try sharing the parking space of the row house buildings.
“I saw many empty parking spaces in the row house buildings when we looked around the alleys. These areas could be used for parking sharing, but in order to do so, we would need to make a good agreement. A system that provides financial compensation will also be necessary.”
Until now, there have been cases where residents of the row house buildings provided the parking space in good will, but decided not to continue, because some non-residents did not keep the promise and parked their cars for longer hours.
Following the advice of the senior researcher Shinhae Lee, the contact information of 14 participants was shared among them. A current status examination was also conducted about the parking area of the row house buildings. There were 11 lots counting only those where no parallel parking was required. At the second stage of the experiment, which is expected to be funded by among others, District Office of Geumcheon-gu, these areas will be also included for sharing.
· Installation of Parking Management System
The Parking management system was finally installed on November 4th. vehicle-sensing-boards (sensors) were installed on the floor of 14 parking lots and the electronic board informing the number of empty parking spaces was hung. This all happened after two months of the experiment.
However, we had to face an unexpected difficulty. A participant who agreed to participate suddenly stopped the construction work. He said that he changed his mind because he does not want to park far away from his residence. The PM Sangmin Jung tried to persuade him but without success. He not only shouted to stop the installation but also kicked the tools. The installation work had to be stopped hopelessly.
Instead, a sensing board was installed at a different place. A resident who was using a common empty parking lot for himself under an implicit consensus of other residents agreed to provide this space for this project.
“This is not a formal parking lot but this space can be used when I do not park.” Thanks to him, it was possible to install 14 boards as planned.
· The Changes in the Alleys after 100 Days of the Project
How much did the alleys change after 100 days of the project? Not surprisingly, the cars in the alleys did not disappear all of the sudden in three months. However, there were some noticeable changes.
Any resident could park his/her car in the designated 14 resident-priority parking lots during the day time if it was empty. Obviously, it had to be emptied in the evening after working hours. As the cars were parked in a more organized way, there was much more space in the alleys. Also, there was no need to park the car only at the same place, so the participants did not have to get upset when another car was parked at their place occasionally as they could always park at another place.
“We used to worry about the parking space for my daughter who always brought her car in the weekends but now we don’t have to. Thank you very much!”
“We used to get phone calls after 5-10 mins. asking to drive out even if we parked at an empty space, but now, surprisingly, we don’t get any calls even after an hour.”
Both for the regular residents and the visitors, the residence could now provide enough parking space.
Also, about 30% of cars passing the alleys was reduced after installing the information board at the entrance of the alleys. The children who used the alleys everyday to go to the playground were the ones who first felt the difference. A game board was drawn on the floors to recall the old games for the elderly but the children were there playing the games already. The scenes of the old alleys were revived once again.
Now the color of the cars parked at each resident-priority parking lot at the Alley 126 Shiheungdaero changed everyday. The alley packed with cars now had a space to breathe. This change was not that big, but still a success. More importantly, people now had a belief and courage that they can solve their problems by themselves. Now they were able to do anything if they wanted to do so.
· “Sharing · Alleys · Governance · Residents,” Changing the Biggest Challenge to the Best Innovation
The Parking Lot Sharing Project led by the Happy Parking Lot Resident Committee attracted the biggest interest among all six selected projects. This showed how severe and difficult the parking problems were.
As the possibility to increase the number of parking lots was limited, many similar attempts had been made to find the solution through sharing. “Everyone’s Parking Lot,” a mobile application introduced by Seoul City was also one of such examples, but it was not widely used yet. It showed that the technology by itself is not enough to make a transition to sharing. It’s because technology can be useful when the help is needed, but it does not automatically lead to the change in minds and actions.
In the beginning of November when the whole country was busy talking about the scandal of president GeunHye Park, the shared parking experiment of Doksan 4-dong was presented in the JTBC Newsroom, the most popular tv news program. While criticizing other projects that many local governments are having with small effect including the “Everyone’s Parking Lot,” the program showed the Doksan 4-dong’s experiment as a case worth bench-marking.
“Residents in this area voluntarily share the parking lots. A voluntary sharing and a system that encourages this voluntary sharing is necessary to solve the parking problems in the city. (JTBC Newsroom “Camera Close up,” “Unsuccessful solutions to the parking problems of Seoul, what are the reasons?,” 2016.11.03.)
Making “Happy Parking Lot” Sharing Alleys Project is different in the sense that it made a good use of technology but did not rely solely on it. A difficult process was there to persuade the residents to make a common understanding about the meaning and the value of the sharing. The changes in daily life were made in this way. This was the main reason how this experiment could make meaningful results in such a short period.
The organization which led the project was also very well-organized. The experiment was led by the Happy Parking Lot Resident Committee with the support of the Dong Resident Center and a private enterprise, Moru System, which provided technological support. The advice of the expert in transportation, Shinhae Lee, senior researcher of the Seoul Institute was also very useful. The alley expedition in quest for the happiness was organized in this way. This solid system for cooperation among private-public-industry-academia formed a team that had a common goal to find the right solution for this problem.
The “experiment of 100 days” which attracted so much attention in the alleys of Doksan 4-dong ended showing much room for further improvement. This experiment might not have been enough to give the best solution to everyone. However, there is no need to be disappointed. This problem has existed for a long time and could not be solved even by the country or the mayor. This is already a big success considering the fact that the residents were the ones who tried to find the solutions by themselves.
We hope that this beautiful challenge by the Happy Parking Lot Resident Committee of the Doksan 4-dong will serve as a big stepping stone for the year 017.
8월 03, 2017