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Valet Zones Established on Washington Avenue

January 11, 2007 Downtown, Local Business, Parking, Transportation, Valet Parking 13 Comments

Finally! My first mention of valet parking was on December 6, 2005. Today, just over a year later, the problem was basically solved — the city’s Street Department installed signs marking valets zones in the 1100 and 1200 blocks of Washington Ave.


The West end of Lucas Park Grille’s valet zone (in the 1200 block) is basically at the end of their restaurant, as it should be.  [Update 1/12/07 10:45am – I measured their space from sign to sign this morning and it is a reasonable 88ft.]

The real confusing thing here has nothing to do with valet parking — from the signs to my back is no parking as this is both a bus stop and the intersection with 13th Street (although part does not have through traffic) yet a parking meter is attached to the post (mostly hidden in this view). So the signs say no parking from the sign back yet a parking meter exists as though it would be OK.  [Update 1/12/07 10:45am – I missed this last night but saw it this morning and a commenter also pointed it out — some of the meters in this area are located at the back of the spaces rather than the front.  That is the case here — the meter is for the space where the BMW is parked above.]


This sign is the opposite end of the Lucas Park Grille valet zone. Again, they’ve got the full space in front of their restaurant for people to drop off and pick up their cars. The remainder of the spaces they had been taking, roughly 7-10 are now available for the general public.


Moving to the East we get to the 1100 block of Washington Ave where Copia has been taking the entire block for a year. I took this picture during the no-parking on street time of 4pm-6pm, another subject I will get to later in this post. I returned later after 6pm and the valet company had covered this meter with one of their no-parking covers and saying the space where I am standing to take this picture was also for valet. As you can see, the restaurant is up ahead and they have the zone up to the white car in the background. The sign is clearly pointing that direction but I didn’t bother arguing with him. There will be an education and adjustment period and I have faith in the new acting Director of Streets to do what it takes keep the streets in order.

[Update 1/12/07 @ 10:45am — I went down there this morning and did some measuring.  From the sign shown below at the east end of their zone to the sign shown above it is a huge 129ft — too long.  Plus they were thinking they got the space that the sign is attached to — that total length is 151ft.  In reality they should have one less space for a total of 106ft, still a reasonable length in my view. ] 


This image is the eastern end of the Copia valet zone. Again, they have a reasonable amount of space to conduct their business while everyone else has public parking to be shared. This small change will have a significant impact on the visual appearance of the street, including the perception of how happening the street is. No longer will we see big dead zones due to valets co-opting all the available spaces. Good common sense has prevailed.

I want to thank Ald. Lyda Krewson (D-28th Ward) for her many hours of working on this issue. I know it has been hours because she and I have literally spent hours talking and emailing over this subject for a good six months or more. Plus I gather she has had numerous conversations with valet company owners, other aldermen and so on. In the past I’ve said 8 years was plenty for an alderman, that after that many years they nothing else to give and it was time to move on. Well, I think I was wrong — despite the 9 years Ald. Krewson has been on the Board of Aldermen it is clear to me now Ald. Krewson has plenty of drive to tackle issues and can be open to suggestions and alternate views. Click here to send an email to Ald. Krewson thanking her for taking the time to pursue this issue.
Also deserving attention is the new acting Director of Streets, Todd Waeltermann. Having just started the job in December he has rolled up his sleeves and got down to work with Ald. Krewson on this issue. Like Krewson, he has gotten very involved and applied some very sensible common sense to the issue. I also hear the folks in the Slay administration were very supportive so thank you Room 200!

The other people that deserve credit are the many of you that sent emails and made phone calls regarding this issue. I have a big mouth but I think it took the efforts of more voices to get things rolling. Citizens standing up on an issue can be heard, persistence will eventually pay off. Of course the work is not complete. The city apparently had about 16 valet permits/areas so it will take some time for the zones to be established throughout the city to the other 14. The good thing is once that is done the companies that supposedly operate reguarly without a permit will become far more obvious. Short-term permits (1 or 2 days) will still be issued without any signs being installed.

So despite being quite pleased with the action taken today I want to point out a few issues that need to be looked at in the near future. The main one is the obnoxious 4pm-6pm no parking rule on Washington Ave from Tucker East. It really only applies to two blocks (1000 & 1100) because the remainder of the blocks to the river are no-parking 24/7. As I said a year ago, I think we should allow parking along Washington all the way to the river — with the possible exception of the spaces immediately in front of American’s Center. Those spaces, in front of the convention center, should be reserved for cabs.

The concern, of course, is how do we allow for workers to quickly flee the city at 5pm. By allowing parking on-street in the morning & evening rush it will take them a bit longer. Well, I say time the lights better along Washington so some is not having to stop at every signal. Also, encourage East-West traffic to use the much wider Cole Ave to the North of the convention center. We’ve literally invested millions of dollars in Washington Ave and visitors coming and going between the convention center and the hotel across the street currently get the impression the street is dead. All they can see from 8th street is an empty street with little to no activity. The only real activity they see are four lanes of traffic going by but not stopping.

Back in the 1000 and 1100 blocks of Washington Ave I am concerned the lack of on-street parking between 5pm and 6pm is negatively affecting the happy hour business at Kitchen K, Dubliner and even Copia. I’d like to see the city do a test of allowing on-street parking from at least 9th street to Tucker throughout the day at it is to the West. At the same time push back the start time for Copia’s valet to 5pm or 5:30pm from 6pm so they can capture that after work crowd. To make this work it would be good to perhaps put up some signs on Tucker and other places where traffic is originating to direct them to alternate routes such as Cole along with reworking the timing on the traffic lights. Tonight I go to bed feeling better about St. Louis. I leave you with a well known quote:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead


Currently there are "13 comments" on this Article:

  1. stlbiggestfan says:

    This is good news. Thanks for your efforts.

  2. Maurice says:

    It is great news and I hope that the city will look at other areas. Of particular concern to me is the West End and Maryland and Euclid, not only with valet parking, but with parking in yellow areas, in handicap spots, and worse, in the middle of the street (even if it is just to run in for a coffee).

    [UrbanReviewSTL — It was the area at Maryland & Euclid that first got Ald. Krewson’s attention, as that is near her home and in her ward. More control in that area is coming soon.]

  3. Jim Zavist says:

    Reworking the timing of traffic lights on the primary routes in and out of town is more important than posting signs pointing the way – daily commuters will figure out the easiest way. Traffic is actually a lot like water – it will always find the path of least resistance.

    [UrbanReviewSTL — I think there is a resistance for some to venture North of Washington Ave so I would not assume they will find their way to Cole.  With the one-way streets and various closed streets the grid is pretty f’d-up downtown.  Washington and Cole are the only two good East-West streets North of Market Street.  My idea was some temporary signs (orange construction type signs) suggesting Cole as an alternate — for a few weeks.  Monitor traffic on Washington & Cole to see how it goes.] 

  4. john says:

    Congratulations… assuming this may be labeled an “accomplished-done deal”, the “one year” time frame means you’ll be over 1000 years old before success on other important issues are city wide! Just kidding as it IS a step in the right direction… but my gosh, all we want to do is improve a city-region, not change the world.

  5. Margie says:

    Great work by you and Ald. Krewson. In the future, it will be appropriate to allow only two spaces for valet (the standard that more progressed cities observe). For now, this is a great leap forward.

  6. If you favor term limits, don’t let one good politician fool you. Eight years is plenty for anyone, and a good alderman should be able to foster equally good leadership to replace him or her.

  7. A. Nonymous says:

    This is good, but I’d add that I still feel Copia has too much space. Why do they need anything more than three or four car lengths? Doesn’t the permit say that all valet parked cars must be moved off site in a timely manner? With this much room I’m guessing that Copia valet parks some cars directly in front of the restaurant.

  8. MeterMaid says:

    Just FYI – your first picture shows the meter for the car parked in that picture (the BMW).

    [UrbanReviewSTL — You are so correct!  I was back down there this morning and realized how they did the parking there, grouping meters where some are to be at the front and some are at the rear.  This is kind of a weird situation where at first glance it looks like it is for a space behind the meter.  Thanks!]

  9. Jim Zavist says:

    no – the rule is the front bumper should line up with the meter!

    [UrbanReviewSTL — See the comment above, in this situation that meter is located at the rear of the space rather than the more common front location.  My mistake.]

  10. DB says:

    Any plans on confronting the manager of Copia who you videotaped a few months ago? You could introduce yourself and say “Remember me? I won.”

  11. I wouldn’t exactly say “won” just yet… Copia still gets enough space to park a freakin’ presidential motorcade. But true, a nice “F.U.” moment on camera would be oh SO gratifying to see!

  12. MeterMaid says:

    That is normally correct Jim. These meters are a little different as Steve explains. Plus, they save money! One poll for every two meters (except these ones on the ends). Also, they have attached some meters to light polls in some areas. Nice job if you ask me.

  13. David says:

    Maurice: I agree with you assesment Maryland and Euclid intersection. As this area has gotten busier I have noticed the following:
    – parking within the intersections and making the crosswalks difficult to use.
    – parking on York Ave. There should be no parking on this street but I have seen some nights where cars are parked illegally on both sides.
    – parking around the Marland Plaza fountain. People are parking in non-existant spaces and blocking traffic.


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