Re: Re: Underground Parking - Parking Machine
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2002 16:03:00 -0700 (MST)
I find myself sounding like an advocate for the parking machine I 
described, which is known as Safepark.  I do not have any financial
connection to them tho I admit I kind of like this older fellow Bill
Sternad who developed it over the last 13 years.  He seems like a guy
on a mission to prove his mouse trap is better.

Another disclaimer seems in order in light of recent comments here, I am
reluctant to urge accomodation to the automobile.  Many know me as an
anti-automobile person.  Our household's second vehicle is a bicycle (or 2
or 3 or). I like the suggestion of having a cohousing community being a
node in a car sharing system.  And finding alternate uses for required
parking lots sounds great to me.  Our household uses the driveway and
garage off the alley for their intended use in the Minnesota winter but
other seasons we park on the street and use them for bicycle parking,
garden storage, staging area, sail boat maintenance etc.  

But at this time parking for cohousing is a necessity.

I liked Casey Morrigan's <cjmorr [at]> words:

> It is hard to live in the dilemma of wishing we didn't need cars, but
> needing realistically to plan for their use.  It is an example of how
> ideals collide with reality in designing cohousing.  

I think making the costs of automobile use more explict - like paying for 
parking rather than let it be lumped in and sort of hidden in land costs 
- may make its real inefficiency and cost more apparent and bring 
the day of a more rational mix of transportation closer.

Tho it is not a cohousing joke, I'll pass on the words from an  
interesting WW II poster  that is in sharp contrast to today's policies.
(From page 32 of the Jan/Feb 2003 Sierra Club magazine):

"When you ride ALONE you ride with Hitler" ... 
"Join a Car-Sharing Club today!"

mark a demaio <mdemaio [at]> wrote:

> i'm aware of some simple 2 high parking machines intended for single
> family residences

Safepark sells these systems now, for about $5K per space.
The Safepark machine for 62 cars is around $10,000 per space,
but is much more efficient in surface area devoted to parking.
(if you can tolerate a water tower like structure)

mark also wrote:
> here's also a system that shows pictures of a more complex system

Yes, they have an array of systems.  I did not study them in detail to see 
how they compare.  I did ask Bill, the developer of the one I described,
how they compare and he said that his Safepark machine is distinguished by 
its simplicity and therefore reliability. It has just two hoists and four
pneumatic cylinders to accomplish the stowing and retrieval of cars. 

Bob Morrison <bomorris [at]> wrote:

> A concern I have is that people could lose the use of their cars if
> there is a long power outage.

The Safepark system is designed for reliability and uses a hybrid power
system which will function much like the gas-electric cars (Prius and
Insight). A built-in gas or diesel generator will power a 50 KW generator
to charge batteries that power the 125 hp motors of the hoist and air
compressor for the pneumatic cylinders. The lowering of cars does some
charging as well. The low duty cycle (low percent time lifting cars) works
well with this system.

Another detail that came up talking to Bill is that when the cost of 
land is $50 per square foot or greater building a Safepark machine would 
be cost effective.

I've developed a bit better understanding of the machine and offer this
explanation.  Look at the image at with this

There is a hoist shaft at each side and room parking for 4 cars side by
side between shafts (except first level)  cars on a given level all move
left or right together.  The following diagram depicts the steps (left to
right) that I imagine to retrieve car 2. (where each digit represents a
car, each line represents one level - not all levels shown; diagrams show
resulting state after described (in words) step).  Underscore "_"
represents a vacant spot:

_1234_   1234__   _234__   _234__ 
_5678_   _5678_   15678_   _15678 
_9abc_   _9abc_   _9abc_   _9abc_ 
initial  1 left   1 down   8 right 

_234_8   234_8_   _34_8_   _34_8_
_1567_   _1567_   21567_   _1567_
_9abc_   _9abc_   _9abc_   29abc_
8 up     2 left   2 down   2 down  2 down repeatedly to bottom.

(Note there may be a more clever way, that for example does not leave 
vacant spot between 4 and 8.) 


Fred H. Olson  Minneapolis,MN 55411   (near north Mpls)
fholson [at] 612-588-9532 (7am-10pm Cent time) 
List manager of Cohousing-L & Nbhd-tc  Ham radio:WB0YQM          
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