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STREET SMART

If You Like Surprises, Then You'll Love Valet Parking

September 13, 1993|HUGO MARTIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dear Street Smart:

My frustration has to do with valet parking. Why is it that whether or not the parking attendant is short or tall, the seat is moved back and the reclining backrest has been moved? Also, they change the radio station, and not only the station but the frequency, from AM to FM. This seems to happen more often than not, even if the car is moved a small distance.

Karen Hunt, Woodland Hills

Dear Reader:

I know the feeling. Sometimes after getting my car back from an attendant, the seat has been adjusted so that only Laker center Vlade Divac could reach the pedals. It makes me want to tell the attendants, "Hey, next time you move my car seat to a different ZIP code from my steering wheel, you can kiss my usual 25-cent tip goodby."

To get a response to this problem, I called Herb Citrin, owner of Valet Parking Services Inc., Los Angeles's oldest and largest valet parking company. He agreed that this problem occurs occasionally and he understands how it can be annoying to patrons.

"The lady has a legitimate complaint," he said.

But Citrin said his company, which operates at 150 locations throughout Southern California, teaches its parking attendants not to tinker with car seats and radios. And if an attendant must adjust your seat to fit into the car, the attendant is instructed to always put the seat back as it was, he said.

So, if an attendant leaves your seat reclined in a horizontal position and has your radio set to a station that only plays Gregorian chants, you are within your rights to withhold your 25-cent tip too.

*

Dear Street Smart:

My area of concern is at the intersection of Reseda Boulevard and Citronia Street. There is no signal at this intersection and it is impossible to make a left turn from Citronia to Reseda Boulevard to go north.

Another major factor hindering the turn is a large sign on a trailer that is left each weekend to advertise apartments. You can't see to turn in either direction.

I don't understand why the owners of this sign can get away with this, considering the hazard it creates.

Bess True, Northridge

Dear Reader:

The owners of such "rolling billboards" are not supposed to get away with this, but they very often do. That trailer violates a state vehicle code that prohibits parking any advertising vehicle on a city street.

In fact, the city's largest parking scofflaw happens to be a Canoga Park advertising sign company that has racked up more than $288,433 in fines and penalties for parking its advertising trailers on Los Angeles streets.

Robert Lum, a parking system coordinator for the city of Los Angeles, said these trailer advertisers do not shudder at receiving such fines because they consider them "the cost of doing business."

But the city is taking a new tack on the problem: It's impounding the trailers after only one warning. So, if you want to see one of these trailers hauled off, call Valley parking enforcement at (818) 904-1418.

By the way, if you happen to see someone parking one of these trailers, do me a favor. Tell them: "Hey, why don't you advertise in the L. A. Times, instead of on my street!"

*

Dear Street Smart:

Everyone knows the meaning of the yellow lines that separate the two directions of traffic. But on a street with four or more lanes, what does it mean to have a solid white line separating traffic going in the same direction? Please see attached diagram.

If this solid white line means no lane changing, then there are quite a few drivers in Southern California who are unaware of this.

Joseph Sabutis, Glendale

Dear Reader:

Hey, I believe there are quite a few drivers in Southern California who are unaware of what a turn signal is. But that's beside the point.

This solid white line that you refer to does, in fact, mean no lane change is permitted, according to Bill Madison, spokesman for the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Usually, these lines are near an intersection, along a bicycle lane, bordering a right-turn-only lane, or near a freeway exit or on-ramp, he said. A lane change in any of these situations could cause a collision, Madison said.

And as you note, few people understand the solid white line rule, and police rarely enforce it.

But we can't expect cops to stop every motorist whose wheels drift across a solid white line, can we? They have bigger problems to worry about: controlling a city of 3.6 million people, all of whom are on the brink of driving madness due to the heat, the smog, the recession and the poor caliber of television shows in the fall lineup.

*

Dear Street Smart:

Express bus line 549, connecting Encino, Burbank and Pasadena, is one of Los Angeles' best-kept transportation secrets. The buses are clean, graffiti-free and geared to the needs of business commuters. It is rumored that this service might be cut back or eliminated altogether because of low ridership. It would be a shame to lose one of the few transit options that really works. What is the official story?

Vanessa Van Wagner, North Hollywood

Dear Reader:

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