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New Valet Parking Permits Worse Than Old

January 5, 2007 Parking, Transportation, Valet Parking 14 Comments

Despite months of ongoing controversy over valet parking, including personal conversations with three aldermen, the City’s Department of Streets has issued new permits to Midwest Valet for at least two Washington Ave establishments that are less restrictive than earlier permits. Prior permits had similar language such as this from a permit issued on January 30, 2006 (see Flickr to view):


I guess the valet companies found that too restrictive on their businesses operating in the public right of way? Below are copies of permits I received today related to Lucas Park Grille and Copia, respectively.



The Lucas Park Grille permit seems to be valid seven days a week, whereas the Copia permit is not valid on Sunday (they are closed that day). As part of my request I inquired about the cost and formula for the permits. Here is the answer: $20/day up to $2,000. Given this casual formula I suppose it makes sense for the valet companies to seek as much real estate as possible — the price they pay is the same. Of note, the new Lucas Park Grille permit does not include any provisions for the 1300 block where they routinely have cones out. We’ll see if they have them out tonight trying to take those spaces.

[UPDATED: 1/5/07 @ 10am: Handwritten below the Copia permit was a note with time from 5:30pm to 1:30am with an OK by JWS.  Jim Suelmann is the recently retired Director of Streets.  See PDF.  The problem here is the last time I checked the street has no parking from 4pm to 6pm.  Are they allowed to start valet at 5:30pm because they have a permit even though parking in the next block must be left open until 6pm due to our “rush”?]
Again, the prior permits issued by the Department of Streets indicated no cones or other devices in the public right of way (which is street and public sidewalk, btw) but that restriction is now gone. Presumably they can virtuallly paint the street orange with cones and signs. Similarly, the language indicating cars must be moved/no vip parking is also gone. So for $2,000 you can own a street in the city of St. Louis.

We’ve gone from bad to worse on this issue.


Currently there are "14 comments" on this Article:

  1. Jimmy James says:

    I guess the new permits bring up a few questions and comments.

    1. It good to see that back-room deal making is still alive and well in the City of St. Louis

    2. While the permits above do not contain the restrictive language of previous permits, they do contain on important line : “Permit to conform with all City Ordinances.” I know this is stock language, but if and when the BOA does get a comprehensive valet parking ordinace passes, these permits will not need to be reissues.

    3. Steve, do you know when the City might get a Valet ordinace passed?

    The most worrysome question is:
    4. Does the lack of restrictive language and the clear back-room deal making present in these permits singal what we can expect the BOA’s Valet Parking Ordinace to look like? Will it basicaly legaly allow valet’s to do whatever they want?

    5. Steve, do you have any idea (rummors) of what the ordinace will look like?

  2. john says:

    Too funny but so typical StL! Bringing attention to an obvious problem gets more of the same. Are you now beginnning to appreciate the depopulation problem? Any word on parking your scooter in Clayton? Patience being tested?

  3. Steve, without valet service all of the County folks won’t go downtown. Who wants to park their own car especially if parallel parking isn’t in their skill set. Thank you Department of Streets, the various Aldermen, and the Administration for safeguarding access to Downtown for those who probably cannot pass a driving exam.

  4. Craig says:

    Has anyone gone straight to the Mayor on this issue?

  5. awb says:

    So either the aldermen are just blowing smoke to appease people, or the street department acts with impunity. Great place to live! I guess Phyllis Young won’t really care until someone in Soulard complains.

  6. Dave says:

    Douglas – No one is calling for the end of valet service downtown. We’re asking for more responsible usage. They don’t need to clear off blocks of space only for valet. 2-3 spots for Copia and 2-3 spots for Lucas Park Grille would most likely be all that is necessary to successfully operate a valet service. Note, the Valet is used as a staging area where they drive the cars to a nearby lot. There’s no excuse why it can’t be done here… Well, then the Valet companies couldn’t put a stranglehold on public parking…..

    You see, there is a benefit for the Valet company to buy complete blocks from the city. This decreases the supply of public parking, artificially increasing the demand for their valet service. Unfortunately, this hurts local businesses because the supply of nominally priced parking is dimished. The City unfortunately has gotten into the business of enriching Valet companies rather than looking out for the best interest of other businesses and private citizens.

    If the valets had their 2-3 spots there would still be a good valet option for Copia and Lucas Park. Also, cheaper public parking would be available for citizens who want to visit other businesses such as Sidebar, Gelateria, etc. This is also a safety issue as more people would be able to park in the safer, well-lit Washington Avenue vice the darker, more dangerous parking lots.

  7. Dave says:

    My bad, Doug… I only skimmed and missed your sarcasm! Doh!

  8. Dave, its all good in the ‘hood; especially when valets park my love boat Buick.

  9. Tim says:


    “Great place to live!”

    Having chosen to live in the city for a considerable perioid of time I have never tethered the quality of my life or city living to valet parking. Obviously it severely diminishes the quality of yours.

  10. Doug says:

    Hey Steve,

    When are you going to go after those guys who do valet without permits? The same guys who take up all the parking with cones (Pepper Lounge & Manderin) and don’t even bother to try to pay the city! It seems to me you should be an equal opportunity nuisance.

  11. STL Resident says:

    Well, I am sure this will get deleted because most people of sites like these do not want both sides of the argument.
    With regards to valet:
    I have no problem with your mission of more public parking. My issue is your personal attacks of the valet. Most valet are college kids trying to make money. I dont know if you have been to college, or if you did your parents paid for everything, but when I was in school I had to work for a living to get by and to pay my student loans. I did this by valeting at the Marriot(now the Hilton). The owner of the valet company buys those meeters to mark off. Now if the valet is “extending” this mark off, then by all means pursue that. But please, when talking about this subject, please include all stories such as you throwing cones into the street, yelling at the valet that you will call the cops on them, and when the cops show up, they tell YOU to leave. Remember, these kids are working, and I understand your frustration, but it is uncalled for for you to be in these kids faces with cameras, screaming at them, etc. Attack the owners and the city, leave the workers alone.

    In regards to the sidewalk parking:
    Good call. These people are not the President. If they want close parking, then they should have their own parking SPACE, not sidewalk…..BUT….when you are taking pictures of cars on the sidewalk, show some class and edit out the license plate. Yes it is disgraceful for them to be on the sidewalk but they dont need to be plastered on a website along with the other cars in the background.

    Continue your mission to make STL better, but show some more class and stop throwing temper tantrums at the valet and throwing people under the bus by showing their information on the website.

    That is all……………..

    [UrbanReviewSTL — Hmm, where to begin?  How about with you are wrong!  I do not delete messages that differ with me, if I did I’d have considerably less commentary on my site.  

    I have not once “attacked” a valet.  I have not thrown cones onto a street — I have tossed them off the street onto the sidewalk, which has been fully detailed in prior posts.  If you refer to the other night, the police said they did not want to get involved — I have yet to be asked to leave a public sidewalk.  If that would ever happen, trust me you’d all know about it.  I do not scream at valets, I seldom raise my voice.   The other night the valet, when I politely asked to see their permit said, “No, we know who you are.”  I’ve had them flip me off, I’ve had them tell me to get a life.  I’ve also had some really pleasant conversations with some of the valets.  It really depends upon the person.  I will continue to ask for permits, I will continue seeking enforcement of said permits.  This is not temper tantrums.]

  12. STL Resident says:

    What about the valet companies who do not have permits???
    You have not talked about them.
    Remember, not every valet in this city is crazy, something has to be happening or being said for SOME of this behavior to occur, not all.
    When people would come up to me with stuff like this when I valeted, as long as they nice, polite, and spoke to me in a normal tone, I had no problem dealing with them and aswering their questions. Throwing cones onto a sidewalk and taking pictures / video tape of me would probrally get under my skin as well.

    What about license plates in pictures????

    [UrbanReviewSTL — I have not talked about valet companies that do not have permits because I cannot easily discern which have permits and which do not.  When I approached a valet from Midwest Valet working at Lucas Park Grille he refused to show me their permits.  When the police asked for the permit they showed an expired permit — they did not have a valid permit on site as required.  I have mentioned numerous times how the city’s system does not permit them to easily print off a list of all valid valet permits where I could easily see if a company was operating with or without a permit.  

    If you are referrring to the “Copia Video” that is with the restaurant owner, not a valet.   I have always approached the valets in regular voice without the camera rolling, in fact it would be in my pocket most times.  Show me a single video that I have where a valet is shown.  Right, none.  Show me a picture of a valet where you can see who it is?  Right, none.  

    License plates are shown in a few cases.  You park on the sidewalk you get your license plate shown to all.   The valet that parked his valet behind my car so I could not leave gets his license plate shown as well.  Your car just happens to be in my picture I go into photoshop and fuzzy out the license plate.]

  13. Miles says:

    The valet company for the (Pepper Lounge & Manderin) does get permits for both locations and is a different company than the one for Lucus Park and Copia.

    [UrbanReviewSTL — They are also some of the worst offenders when it comes to taking way too much space.  They too will soon have a designated valet zone limiting their control of public streets and public parking.] 

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