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L.A. council votes to regulate valet parking operators

The rules would require valid California driver's licenses for all workers, permits, liability insurance and proof of off-street spaces.

December 05, 2012|By Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times
  • The Los Angeles city attorney’s office spent three years researching and crafting valet-parking regulations.
The Los Angeles city attorney’s office spent three years researching… (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles…)

Valet parking operators in Los Angeles would be regulated for the first time under an ordinance the City Council approved unanimously on Wednesday.

The new rules, subject to a second vote by the council, would require a valet operator in Los Angeles to obtain a permit, carry liability insurance, provide proof of off-street spaces for parking cars and ensure that valet workers had valid California driver's licenses. The ordinance would prohibit operators from using public street parking without permission and from blocking traffic.

The Los Angeles city attorney's office spent three years researching and crafting the regulations, which Councilman Eric Garcetti said were aimed at eliminating rogue operators. Portions of the measure were modeled on longtime regulations in West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills.

"Finally, the law is on the side of the driver," Garcetti said after the 13-0 vote.

Garcetti told council colleagues that he had heard many complaints from Hollywood constituents about fly-by-night valet operators who damaged vehicles, stole valuables or parked in restricted zones.

Councilman Paul Koretz, whose district includes the busy 3rd Street restaurant row between La Cienega Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, said the ordinance was "a long time coming." He said he had personally used black and white paint to correct hours-of-operation signs altered by valet workers. He also said valets had disabled parking meters to avoid having to pay for spots.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents Venice and other valet-intensive areas, said he was concerned that his constituents had not been consulted. Businesses along Abbot Kinney Boulevard have been working on parking solutions that could include leasing public school spaces for evening use and an automated, public-private parking facility on an old railroad right-of-way. Garcetti said the ordinance would not preclude any of those solutions.

The ordinance will be phased in across the city, with Hollywood expected to be first to implement the rules. That will allow for input from residents and business owners in Venice and elsewhere, Garcetti said.

Richard Tefank, executive director of the Police Commission, said the program might start next spring. The commission will set the fees, issue permits and explain the program to police and parking enforcement officers.

Jamal Zyoud, owner of J&G Parking Services, said that he thought regulation was a good idea but that he would find it difficult to pay a per-worker fee for background checks.

"Business is already slow," he said. "We're barely making it." He said the system might be workable if employees split with him the cost of background checks.

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