Traffic board reviews efficiency of Prospect Street valet service
La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation (T&T) advisory board considered expanding the public valet parking fronting Eddie V’s restaurant during its monthly meeting Oct. 21. Although the board ultimately tabled a vote on the issue to next month’s meeting, the presentation opened discussion into whether the current valet system is running as efficiently as it could be.
There are four public valet parking spaces in front of the Prospect Street eatery that are operational 6-11 p.m. weekdays and all day on weekends. Christophe Cevasco, Eddie V’s managing partner, said they are requesting four additional spaces for the same hours. “Having only four spaces stops the flow of traffic for patrons to our restaurant and others on the block. Over the last few years, our business has grown and the demand (for parking) is higher,” he said.
Although T&T is historically in favor of more valet parking, member Patrick Ryan said the board received complaints from neighboring businesses that the valet service is understaffed, leading to cars backing up into the street and attendants who rush to get cars in and out of the valet spaces. The valet service is facilitated by Ace Parking.
“Studies suggest 30 percent of cars on the road are circling, looking for parking spaces,” Ryan said. “So if you’re providing parking for that 30 percent, you immediately reduce traffic by 30 percent, and if you have a space that turns over 35 times a night (with valet) that would otherwise turn over twice a night, you are taking all those cars off the road.”
However, in this case, “The concern is whether it’s staffed adequately enough, rather than whether more spaces are needed,” Ryan continued.
“To take the number of spaces and double them, when the issue isn’t the number of spaces but the number of people needing valets that causes backups on the street, that’s something that should be corrected before you ask for more spaces.”
Member Michelle Fulks added, “It seems like a lot of these issues would be resolved if valet staffing was increased. We have no guarantee the same problems aren’t going to continue if we double the amount of spaces you have.”
However, Ace Parking operations director Mike Gaulin explained the four spaces in that area service multiple restaurants, which at a peak dinner time could host as many as 300 reservations.
“You could have a (valet) army and you’re still not going to have enough people to turn those spots over quick enough,” he said.
Gaulin added that current staffing levels are approximately one attendant for every 10 cars that typically come through in an evening. While he said Ace Parking is “amenable” to adding more staff, it would ultimately become “a cost issue.”
An additional concern with Ace’s staffing was that the attendants are rushed to turn the cars over quickly, and reportedly, they drive without caution in the interest of speed.
Ian and Julie Allen, owners of the adjacent Africa and Beyond shop on Prospect Street, could not attend the meeting, but sent a letter outlining their grievances. “Valet has been reckless, both running through traffic and driving through the Village to park cars ... often not stopping at stop signs or pedestrian walkways and (we) have witnessed many near-accidents,” it read.
When asked how many accidents the valets experience, Gaulin said most of them occur in the garage and there are not “a lot” of accidents on the street. In the interest of working with the neighboring businesses, Cevasco said eddie V’s would explore a validation program, whereby if patrons spend a certain amount of money at surrounding businesses, Ace Parking would validate their parking and absorb the cost.
George Hauer, owner of the nearby George’s At The Cove restaurant, attended the meeting and explained his business also offers valet, and hoped the board saw the importance of the service to La Jolla restaurants.
“We can’t do business without that valet. ... Not only is there public valet but it’s unlimited, you can eat and then go shopping (rather than park on the street and only have two hours). Without valet, we don’t exist. We go away.”
He alluded that he, too, might soon be requesting additional valet parking spots from the T&T board.
Cevasco said Eddie V’s would return to next month’s meeting with a valet staffing plan and perhaps a validation plan.
In other T&T news:
■ Parking survey in the works: The T&T sub-committee that formed to address the various, and sometimes confusing, parking times throughout the Village, met and decided its first step would be to poll residents in select areas, Ryan reported. “If we’re able to make a change, we want to make sure that change is evidence-based,” he said, adding the committee is drafting a opinion survey for residences and businesses on Fay Avenue between Silverado and Kline streets. “It’s an area where we think most people would be in favor of a time change from one-hour to either 90-minute or two hours,” Ryan said. “We’re going to review survey results and if it’s successful, we’ll consider doing the same thing in other parts of the Village.”
■ Parking removal revisited: Although removing some parking on coast boulevard as part of the Whale View Point beautification project has been dismissed by the city, project organizer Ann Dynes has not given up. Dynes said a city engineer reviewed the plan to remove parking on the west side of coast boulevard and install diagonal parking on the east side to make up for spaces lost, but determined the street is not wide enough. Without a plan to guarantee no loss of parking spaces, the city considers the idea “a dead-letter issue,” she said.
“But I don’t think we should give up on it,” Dynes said. “I’d like a private study to look at this more diligently than city staff has the time or resources to do. If we could come up with a viable plan, then we could see if there is community support for it.”
Whale View Point project plans call for cleaning up the coastline, between the People’s Wall to the residential area of coast boulevard, over the next 20 years.