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Valet Parking Makes the Post-Dispatch

January 16, 2007 Downtown, Parking, Valet Parking 28 Comments

Downtown resident and Post-Dispatch reporter Doug Moore had a nice piece in yesterday’s paper about valet parking in his everyday column called “Downtown Diary.” I’d link to it but the P-D still has this nasty habit of pulling their stories after a couple weeks, not good for a long-term post such as this. From the story:

…there are no hard and fast rules about how much area can be set aside for valet service — and that’s a bad thing. The cones block lanes of traffic and sometimes stretch an entire block. As more meters are blocked, those who seek free, on-street parking over valet get steamed. There’s been shouting. Cones have been moved or run over. Police have been called.

It’s an issue that caught city leaders off guard.

“Clearly, we need some rules,” said Alderwoman Lyda Krewson, who represents the Central West End, where valet parking also is common. “The self-policing thing hasn’t worked.”

For the record I have never run over a cone, although I know someone who has. Moore continues;

Restaurant managers say they want to be good sports and work with the city.

“I have no problem with the city chiming in,” said Copia owner Eyad Tammas.

Lucas Park Grille manager Katie Herald said the restricted space could present a problem on busy weekends with cars blocking traffic as they wait for valet service.

Eyad Tammas sounds so willing to work with others doesn’t he? Back in October he wasn’t so cooperative, see video of owner (see full post). And for those of you that preferred Antonio French’s edited version of the video, click here.

Last Thursday when the new valet signs went up at Copia & Lucas Park Grille I wanted to get a few quick pictures. Turns out I arrived at Copia while a P-D photographer was there.

Midwest Valet at Copia

This caption is a bit misleading. I parked in a space to the right of the valet zone sign which was pointing left. The valet himself is pointing the opposite direction of where I parked.

Above is the sign in question the following morning. As you can see the arrow points left toward Copia (in background). The space to the right of the sign is not part of the valet zone, which is where I parked the night before when the picture was taken. This confusion on the part of the valets seems to have been cleared up as they were not trying to take this space over the weekend.

I still believe them having the space to the left of the sign is too much space. That gives them a total of 129 feet! The zone, in my view, needs to be moved one space to the left for a total of 106 feet — still a good amount of space (equal to roughly five parking spaces). As the above storefront is vacant and therefore not part of Copia it will be good to keep that space public to help encourage a new tenant as well as serve potential tenants in the adjacent Meridian Loft building (formerly the AD Brown building).

Overall I am pleased with the progress recently being made on this issue. We still have numerous other valet areas which have yet to be tamed by the zone signage but I believe the Streets Department is finally on top of the issue. Once they have created the necessary valet zones throughout the city it will be clear to everyone which businesses are operating without proper permits as well as which companies are trying to reserve an excessive amount of the public street for their private business.


Currently there are "28 comments" on this Article:

  1. john says:

    Gee, look how complicated the “IT” is here…”city leaders off guard”? This is so complicated that even a PD reporter finds it difficult to accurately describe a picture. When St Louisans care as much for their region as they do for the Cardinals, then these simple problems will be history.

    [UrbanReviewSTL — In defense of the reporter, he did not write the caption.  That would have been his editor.]

  2. maurice says:

    Well on one hand, I guess be happy that it made the newspaper. (not the best picture of you Steve)

    On the other hand – – mmmm, thinking here, that it months for the City and the Post to notice was is an obvious problem.

    Now lets see, a stink has been made, a bill passed to revamp the valet parking plans, what’s next? Oh yeah, enforcement.

    I would hope that the police have the ability to police and TICKET on a CONTINUAL basis so that these changes will become permanent so that Steve doesn’t have to do a follow up in 3 months, 6 months, etc.

  3. Roo says:

    Imagine how exciting this blog would be if it was dedicated to only looking at how many parking spaces the valets take! That just seemed really funny to me. Stay at em boss.

  4. Josh says:

    Correction: “A number of articles/postings/entries on his weblog dedicated to…” Sounds like the old press is still having trouble catching up with the new press.

    Didn’t you say these people are paying the city for permits to park here? Why don’t they just buy a few spots in a nearby garage or lot? And since when is the public domain available on long term loan?

  5. Jim Zavist says:

    Actually, the Police should not be the ones issuing tickets – they have better things to do with their time and training. Parking enforcement should be done by parking control officers whose only job is enforcing the existing ordinances. They also need to be scheduled to work longer hours, probably between 7 am and 11 pm – parking problems don’t end at sunset! I don’t understand why lack of enforcement is such an issue. Parking tickets are a revenue generator for a cash-strapped city. Every employee dedicated to writing tickets is generating substantially more direct income than their salary and benefits (unlike most city employees), so increasing staff to better-respond to ongoing problems like these should be a no-brainer. My guess is that, like many things, it’s politically driven. Increase the number of parking tickets and you increase the number of calls an alderman will receive and have to deal with! While I’m no fan of getting or paying for a parking ticket, I’m an adult and I’ll either just pay it or I’ll fight it out downtown – I won’t go running to my alderman to “fix things”, but I’m sure more than a few old-timers will . . .

  6. maurice says:

    Jim, you are correct, I mis-spoke. I meant parking officers. I agree that the police would be of better use fighting crime than writing tickets. And yes, parking officers need to work when the meters are being used…and if this means odd hours and days, then tough…that is what the job calls. Hire people willing to.

    But yes, tickets and enforcement are the only way to ensure compliance.

  7. equals42 says:

    “And yes, parking officers need to work when the meters are being used…and if this means odd hours and days, then tough…that is what the job calls. Hire people willing to.”

    Are these some of the jobs Bush says Americans won’t do? Couldn’t resist. How hard could it be in this town to find people capable of walking around and filling out a form/ticket when someone parks illegally? When I lived Downtown I knew I could park anywhere after 5:30pm with no chance of getting a ticket. 7am-5pm you can’t walk into Starbucks and get a mocha before the outsourced parking enforcement officer nabs you for a $10 ticket. Anyone who pays to park at a Cards game outside of M-F business hours is crazy. Find a nice spot with or without a meter. [Just not in front of a driveway or something likely to cause someone to call the tow truck on you.] The worst you get is a $10 ticket. Heck, if you print out an official looking piece of paper stating you are somehow important [government worker, court reporter, delivery service] put it on the dashboard and park on the sidewalk or handicap ramp!

    [UrbanReviewSTL — I should note that the Treasurer’s office that controls parking does have enforcement officers out with their hand held computers issuing tickets after 6pm.  These valet signs will help add clarity to the situation from their perspective as well.]

  8. melissa says:

    Well, Midwest Valet is at their finest tonight in the Wash Ave. district. We were waiting outside the Meridian after dining at Copia tonight and watched them parking valet cars in the non-valet spots in front of the Meridian. The valet that parked the Durango did a skidding u-turn in front of a city bus (stupid) and then proceeded to bang tires against the curb until he had two up on the curb. Where he left it. Oh. That was AFTER he backed into the mini van behind. We pointed out that he just hit the van and he replied that he thought it was the parking meter. He added that he owned the van anyway.(Right!) Asked why he was valet parking cars in the reserved public spots the young man replied that those spots were for anyone to park in so he had the right… So much for the new restrictions! Copia customers should think twice before they hand their keys to these wiseguys. 2/17/07

  9. richard musick says:

    On dec 15 06 my truck, a 2001 bmw, and a 93 Dodge spirit were in a accident from what I understand from witness was caused by a midwest valet parking person he whipped out on a oncoming vehicle (spirit) w a customers 2001 bmw hitting the spirit causing it to hit my vehicle parked in a parking space with no one in it a 93 Isuzu pickup. All three vehicles susstained a lot of damage over $2500.00 dollars in damage on mine the spirit was totaled (the guy that owed that one lost his job because of no more transportation I heard). The bmw had about $9000 in damage. The insurance co Geico told me they determined it is Midwests fault. Midwest Valet have not produced valid insurance to me and have not every returned any of my phone calls. Do all these restaurant and club have responsibility for accidents caused by midwest?

  10. richard musick says:

    I understand that Lucas Grill is no longer using Midwest Valet now because of what ? could it be no insurance?

  11. valet parking does create an easy source of income while most people sure don’t like to spend the cash if they could just park the car a block away.

  12. Accord Guy says:

    Do all valet parking companies need to have insurance? If yes, does anyone know what the minimum requirements are?

  13. I never liked valets myself. Always look for an open space to park my car rather than trusting them with my car.

  14. We love our city!
    You cant find a single valet guy down here in San Diego GHP district.

  15. youdon'tknow says:

    awwwwwwwwwwwww…………..steve why did you close the other thread ….are you crying ……??… just get out of other peoples buisness ..LOSER..

  16. Devon says:

    How funny, surely there shouldn’t be any preferential treatment for valet parking over any other type of parking! Why isn’t it the business’ responsibility to deal with the cars if they inform their clients that is what they will do. Personally, I’d go nuts! If you pay your taxes, you have as much right to park in a parking space as the valet, unless there are environmental issues, they shouldn’t even receive preferential treatment!

  17. DS says:

    This blog on Midwest has been sleeping for a while. But this is one scank of a business. Worked for them for 3 months and had to fight to get paid. First check was short one week and late, second check, bounced and the last check I am still trying to get. Oh, did I mention the second paycheck took six weeks to get and their excuse was we mailed it to you, must have got lost in the mail. Really!
    As for the comments regarding accidents, they deduct $1 per hour from each employees paycheck for accidents. If a business is using them for valet service they may share the responsibilty for any liabilities. So if you have a damage claim with Midwest, go after the restaurant if Midwest did not pay. Odds are the restaurants insurance will pay up.

  18. MB says:

    Obviously those of you posting in attack of the valet’s have never been on the other side of things, never actually had to work for your living through college or whatever it may be. If you have ever worked as a valet, especially at Lucas Park Grille, that the amount of space that they have to work with is hardly enough for safely operating a valet service on a busy night.

    Regarding parking in “non designated valet spots”, valets have just as much of a right to park their cars on the street as you do. Not to mention, especially on a weeknight when you are low manned, or even the only one working, response time is key. Therefore the most effecient solution is to park on close street parking… running to the lot 20 or 30 times when it is over a block away, gets quite old, especially when people don’t realize that the valets don’t see any of the money from the parking charge and don’t tip us. Did I mention that we work almost exclusively for tips?

    Honestly, any company you work for has idiots that you wouldn’t trust your car with. This doesn’t mean that the entire company is like that. The majority of us are hard working college students and young people just trying to make a living. Any cheapskate that tries to make an issue of our work space needs to hit the road, especially if they are driving that nice brand new BMW 1 series.

  19. Jim Zavist says:

    MB – you’re being PAID (maybe not well, but you agreed to it) to “run to the lot 20 or 30 times . . . over a block away”! Part of the permit that allows valet parking REQUIRES the use of off-street lots. If you choose to not abide by the rules, there’s no reason for the city to allow valet parking to continue!

  20. John M. says:

    Unfortunately MB, Jim is right, your convenience is not an issue as that is what you are selling to the public.
    Coning off spots that don’t belong to you, but do in fact belong to the person you are trying to chase off from using it, is unethical at best. Even though I have worked in parking since college, from airports to Universities, and on to municipalites and private facilites. Every grunt position from cashier to valet to almost every management position concievable in a large parking company, I watched in contempt at the way the valet was arranged at Copia. It was designed poorly for everyone.
    I could have helped the valet operation and tried to help that situation on several occassions with ET, as he was a friend of a friend. He didn’t want my help, I lived in the building next door while working DT and the presumptious operational method was very arrogant towards everyone. It was very poorly run even after being confronted on several occassions by many people including myself. A good business would have recognized the failures and attempted to remedy a better solution. That didn’t happen.
    As far as your contempt for people in not recognizing the actual financial arrangements in not being geared towards he who hustles. Not suprising and while I understand why you are frustrated towards them, the customer, it truly is misdirected. It is my educated guess that in the description of your position, they most likely overstated your potential income for a given situation. When or if you are being adequately compensated for your time, you probably would let that “1 series driver” off the hook in your mind and be able to move on to the next customer. Unfortunately that is not the case. There is no polite way to inform a customer of the arrangement and expect him to pay above the quoted rate.
    But you are not completely forthright, as the valet company is responsible for paying you a base minimum wage of $3.32 and if the tips and the base minimum wage do not exceed $6.55 an hour they must make up the difference. No Exceptions, as it was tested in Missouri’s highest court by restaurants and they lost.
    The “valet only” parking companies in this town are very unprofessional in my experienced opinion. They are not alone in what I have witnessed in many cities, but the three I am aware of here, are fly by night type operations at best, in the way they are run. I am not suprised as most of them serve bar/restaurant/nightclub operations and are truly low-cap ventures that border on insolvency most of the time due to the nature of the business relationships with the entertainment venue served.

  21. ds says:

    I agree with the qaulity or lack of qaulity of the valet companies in St. Louis. I worked for Midwest Valet and IMO it was run like some back alley fly by night operation. I am not speaking of the valet employees. They are normally great people just trying to make a living or extra living, but are at the mercy of an unscrupolous employer who takes advantage of their need for money and makes claims of great money. There are great and honest valet services in St. Louis, which are run by the professional parking companies and they are very above board with their employees and very professional.
    For more information on Midwest Valet you want to check this blog out:
    One thing I do agree with is sometimes the valets are overlooked when it comes to a fair tip, if they deserve it, as this is really the majority of their pay and in some cases are not even getting the Missouri minimum wage from their employer.
    But if the job sucks, it is time to look else where. Most of the valets, hang in there because they like working for tips and not having to report their true income or think tomorrow will be a better tip day. It just takes a while to catch on and realize the truth.

  22. Previous Parker says:

    I used to work for Midwest Valet as well. Though I’d say my expeierence with them was good overall I did hear of other people getting the short end of the stick and heard some empty promises myself. Though I was not a perfect valet I would say I was better than average at the job. I come to this conslusion not just by my own objective judgement but by the response of the owner’s and customers of the resturants I worked for (2 of which pretty much every weekend for over a year and a half). I understand some of the untrust people have towards valets (I didn’t trust some of the other guys I worked with sometimes) but please don’t put everyone in the same category. There are honest people (maybe it was just me, I don’t know) that don’t cheat the company or their clients and are there to provide the best service possible. While not having any free weekend nights I did enjoy the job while I had it.

  23. $rolls says:

    getta life son, it’s just valet parking – not dat biggofa deal

    hhhhhuuuu… angry fat people with low self esteem these days…

  24. mvpemploye says:

    Jim Zavist – “Part of the permit that allows valet parking REQUIRES the use of off-street lots.”

    During many of the events, parking lots are not available to the valets and if used cars will be towed without notice. I’m not sure of the specifics of all of the locations but many times lots are not available and our only option is to park on the street. I have worked for MVP for a little while now and I have noticed that they are not very well organized. The manager for MVP or whatever he claims to be is not very good at informing valets of the parking situations at events; it is then left to the valets to find available places. Parking lots are much preferred over street parking but they are not available at all locations. All in all we just work with what we have…

  25. Jimmy Z says:

    Selling what you don’t own is called fraud – just ask Bernie Madoff! If the parking lots are full / unavailable, guess what, you shouldn’t be accepting any more vehicles!

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