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The Parking Professional: What is your current position with the Missoula Parking Commission?
Anne Guest: Currently, I am the Director of the Missoula Parking Commission in Missoula, Montana, and have been in this position for 17 years. I especially like the diversity in my job - diversity in the people I work with, the tasks that I do each day and wide spectrum of knowledge that is required to be the director of a comprehensive parking program.
TPP: Briefly tell us about your operations.
AG: The Missoula Parking Commission is an enterprise fund and an independent department of the City of Missoula, which has an estimated population of 80,000. The Parking Commission is responsible for all aspects of a complete parking program within Missoula's Central Business District and around the University of Montana (a residential parking permit program). With a staff of 10, we manage all on-street parking (1,100+ meters), 12 off-street lots and two parking structures. In addition to parking management, the Parking Commission strives to be an active partner with other organizations to develop and promote strong strategies for parking and transportation alternatives including parking and transportation demand management. In recent years, the Parking Commission has been instrumental in promoting economic development in our downtown.
TPP: What's your biggest challenge right now in your day-to-day operations?
AG: Recently the Downtown Business Improvement District of Missoula completed the development of a comprehensive Greater Missoula Downtown Master Plan. The Plan was unanimously adopted by the Missoula City Council in August 2009. A key element of the Master Plan was a thorough evaluation and analysis of the Parking Commission's parking program. The final task report included parking program guiding principles and a parking strategic plan. Supporting this report were nine primary action items that the Parking Commission should address in the short- to mid-term to help promote the objectives of the overall Master Plan. The biggest challenge facing me right now is setting the stage to begin implementation of these nine recommendations. Several of them have the potential to be highly controversial, so lots of thought and preparation must occur for the process to be well-understood by the public and political entities.
TPP: How are you working to overcome this challenge?
AG: One of the parking strategies from the Master Plan that the Parking Commission has implemented is to form a Parking Commission Advisory Committee (PCAC). This committee is made up of members from various agencies and special interest groups plus stakeholders who have an interest in the Parking Commission's parking program and a commitment to advise the Parking Commission's board of directors.
TPP: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
AG: I believe that throughout the parking industry, the general public does not realize how complex and difficult it is to manage an effective parking program. Very few understand the important role parking plays in the economic development of a city's downtown. I think IPI, through its educational outreach programs, the yearly Conference & Expo and CAPP certification has done a great deal to improve the professional image of the industry as a whole.
TPP: You've been an IPI member for over 15 years; how has IPI benefitted you in your career?
AG: Without a doubt, IPI has helped me to become a more educated and effective parking professional, and I believe our parking program reflects that. IPI has been a tremendous resource with its knowledgeable staff and various publications. The Conference & Expo has created the opportunity to network with parking professionals throughout the country. I have relied on their shared expertise and know that there is a tremendous resource only an email away. On a personal level, I have made life-long friends who will be near and dear to my heart long after I am no longer in the parking business. For this, I will be forever grateful to the business that brought our lives together.
TPP: Who is your biggest influence in life? In your work?
AG: I don't believe I can name just one person as the biggest influence in my life personally or professionally. I find that I depend on "a village" of support among my family, friends and colleagues. Each one brings a different perspective into my life.
TPP: What is something about you that might surprise people?
AG: I suspect people who have met me without the opportunity to know me very well would be surprised to learn that ten years ago I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with my daughter and made it to Uhuru Peak at the very top!