By Dave Schwab
A compromise plan is being offered by parties who want to expand valet parking service on Prospect Street in La Jolla.
The La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA), which makes land-use recommendations to the city, recently narrowly nixed by an 8-7 vote, a proposal to add four valet spaces down the block from the 12 existing at 1298 Prospect St.
In response, attorney Matt Peterson of the law firm of Peterson & Price representing Ace and Sunset valet companies and others interested in seeing Village valet service expanded, presented a new counterproposal.
“Within a hundred yards southwest (of George’s valet) there are over 1,700 restaurant seats, and there is no way that a 12-space valet operation can handle that on its own,” aruged Peterson. “George Hauer (restaurateur) has agreed, to keep peace in the community and for an overall (valet) system that works, to reduce his valet by two spots to 10.”
Peterson said Hauer would be willing to do this if the city were willing to approve creating four new spaces, a total net gain of two to bring the total to 14. Those spaces, Peterson noted, previously existed in front of the old Chart House that is being remodeled into an Eddie V’s that is to open this summer.
Gary Pence, the senior city traffic engineer who will make the call on whether to expand Prospect Street valet, said Friday, “I will try to work with the community, restaurants and valet companies to come up with a compromise which would add new spaces but remove some spaces from other areas. I don’t know the exact number that would be added or removed yet.”
Noting the biggest concern with valet parking is traffic congestion, Pence said in an e-mail that if problems develop should new valet spaces be created “we (city) may have to remove or relocate the zones.”
Pence said a one-year valet permit that can be renewed annually is $700 for the initial permit and $300 for renewals. Cost is not based on the number of spaces provided.
Concerning the value of valet parking, Pence said, “In my opinion valet operations help get vehicles off the street because they are required to be parked in nearby lots or garages. Theoretically this should help provide more on-street parking for the non-valet users and help prevent motorists from continuously circling the block looking for a parking spot near the restaurant. They also provide convenient access to restaurants and shops for people who are unable to walk long distances."
Pence added, "From our experience valet zones have been a benefit to communities.“
Pence’s views of the benefits of valet are not shared by everyone in the Village. Landlord Lincoln Foster, who has been lobbying against adding any new valet spots to the 12 already existing, claims valet benefits restaurants but not other retailers, insisting diagonally parked valet spots slows traffic when when cars are backing out.
Foster doesn’t favor Peterson’s compromise either.
“It's nonsense, since 12 is already more than adequate,” Foster e-mailed. “If the valet operation was conducted efficiently, instead of storing cars in spaces for the convenience of under staffing, fewer spaces overall would be needed to serve the entire street.”