Residential valet parking raises legality issues in La Jolla

Parking and stopping are prohibited on much of Hillside Drive in La Jolla.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Valet parking in residential neighborhoods raised complaints and issues about its legality during the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board’s Dec. 15 meeting.

La Jolla resident Diane Kane said she lives off Hillside Drive in an area “that has the only viable parking for a quarter-mile radius from where I live.”

Kane, who is president of the La Jolla Community Planning Association, said there are about 30 or 40 spots in the immediate area around Torrey Pines Road and Hillside and the intersection of Hillside and Soledad Avenue, with no other legal parking on Hillside until its intersection with Via Siena.

Kane said a home near her on Hillside has been hosting parties, “referred to in the neighborhood as ‘the disco’ … involved in raising donations for charitable uses.”

The parties, Kane said, involve large numbers of people “and tie up Hillside for hours.”

She said the hosts use “a valet parking service that … repositions [guests’ cars] down in my neighborhood or elsewhere on Hillside.”

A few weeks ago, she said, vehicles were parked adjacent to the home with the party “in clearly marked red zones, and they just had flashing lights on them.”

“There was nothing legal about any of that parking. The entire street was blocked,” Kane added.

The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board meets Dec. 15 online.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Nancy Manno, who also lives in the area, said this “has been an ongoing problem for a number of years,” though Hillside Drive has several signs indicating the shoulder is a fire lane and that parking and stopping are not allowed.

Neither Kane nor Manno stated the address of the home in question.

Manno said the San Diego Police and Fire-Rescue departments should be engaged during the parties, since valet parking in the neighborhood is breaking the law and liability could be an issue for the city if emergency vehicles can’t access the road.

Traffic & Transportation Board Chairman Brian Earley, reading an email from city parking supervisor Erin Longen, said “private residents cannot hire a valet service unless they have the correct permits.” SDPD officers have ticketed a valet company in the area at least once, he said.

Earley said an email from city traffic engineer Gary Pence stated that the city’s valet program is for businesses but “does not regulate or include information on private residences having parties.”

Earley said a valet area “requires a passenger loading zone or a white zone,” which is absent in residential areas.

He then read an email from city senior zoning investigator Lisa Poston that said “a private entity blocking the street with no permit” would be illegal.

To properly cite homeowners, code enforcement officers “have to have visual proof themselves; they have to have reports from the Police Department,” Earley said.

Steve Hadley, representing the office of City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said “code enforcement simply doesn’t have officers that work evenings and weekends,” and he encouraged those who see a valet parking violation to call police when it happens, as code enforcement cannot accept evidence from private citizens.

Earley said he would work with Kane and T&T members on drafting a cease-and-desist letter that the Community Planning Association could issue to valet companies and/or homeowners. ◆