City Council considers new valet rules; local restauranteurs shrug

Written by on November 21, 2012 in Featured, Neighborhood News - No comments

Valet parking is common in Fell’s Point, Little Italy, and other dense areas of East Baltimore.

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With the status of residential permit parking in Canton and beyond on the table, the City Council is also poised to decide the fate of valet parking.

Among other things, Bill 12-0081 would require valets to park cars in a designated off-street facility; parking customers’ cars in the public right of way would be prohibited.

Furthermore, valet operators would have to apply for a license from the city, to be renewed annually, and would have to carry liability insurance that covers themselves, the restaurant proprietor, the mayor, and City Council.

In its application for a designated valet zone (called a “passenger loading zone” on signs), a restaurant or establishment would provide comprehensive information including photographs of the zone, a specified drop-off/pick-up pattern, the route that valet drivers would take to off-street parking, and the days and hours that the valet zone would be in effect.

“A lot of times the more restrictions you put on something, the harder it is for everybody,” said Vincent Culotta, one of the owners of Sabatino’s Italian Restaurant in Little Italy, a dining destination in which valet parking is prevalent.

However, Culotta added that his valet already parks the cars off-street.

“The whole idea of valet is to have secured, off-street parking,” he said. “I’ve got neighbors; I’ve got friends. I’d have to face them [if cars were parked on-street].”

He said that Little Italy has lost five square block areas that were once parking lots to development.

“Valet parking is not pretty important,” said Culotta. “It’s essential.”

Ed Bosca, owner of Verde, a new upscale pizzeria in Canton, a particularly volatile neighborhood when it comes to parking, said that he also already parks his cars off-street.

“I believe that’s a legitimate request; I believe you should have a lot,” he said. “We would never put cars on the street; to me it’s counter productive if you want to make money.”

Bosca did note that adhering to a pre-mapped route to the parking area could be difficult, as the narrow city streets are sometimes impassable when someone is double parked.

The bill also includes a period for abutters and neighborhood associations to object to a proposed valet zone, or a valet zone in the renewal process.

Ten or more objections necessitate a public hearing prior to Department of Transportation approval of the proposed zone.

by Erik Zygmont

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