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Valet parking stresses Village residents

MELISSA REID
Associate Publisher
mreid@lbknews.com

When Mar Vista Restaurant’s valet service parks a car, things can get creative. Cars can be backed in and double stacked in an effort to maximize the limited spaces in the parking lot. And following the commission workshop Tuesday, the Planning and Zoning Department was assigned a role in coordinating parking at the busy restaurant.

The number of parking spaces currently at the Mar Vista is 28, and the seating accommodates 169 people. According to Planning and Zoning Director Allen Parsons, the hired valet service at the restaurant currently is able to double stack the vehicles in order to fit approximately 40 cars in the parking lot. After the parking lot is full, the valet then park cars on the public street, which is a source of concern for the residents living in the Village.

Residents and commissioners expressed their thoughts regarding street parking at Tuesday’s Commission workshop. Among the concerns was the safety of residents in the event of an emergency, particularly since public street parking is currently allowed on both sides of certain streets.

“I want to point out the dangers of turning your car onto Broadway when cars are parked to the edge of the intersecting streets. You simply cannot see until you’re quite well into the road on Broadway, and it doesn’t matter whether a car is coming from the Mar Vista side or the Gulf of Mexico Drive side,” said Village resident Lizzie Brown.

“It’s absolutely unsafe to have cars parked on both sides of the street. If there were an emergency, a fire truck could not get through there. It should definitely be limited to one side of the street,” said Vice Mayor Ed Zunz.

Broadway has been limited to one-sided street parking since 2014, however other streets in the Village have not. And with The Shore Restaurant under construction, residents are also concerned the street parking problem could get worse and believe it is time for some solutions, such as not allowing valet to park cars on the public streets save for residents only.

Parsons proposed this solution and several others at the workshop for the commission’s consideration.

The solutions Parsons proposed included: limiting public spaces for use by private valet except with a town agreement, restricting public parking spaces to residents only and require a parking permit, restricting parking to one-sided street parking instead of two-sided parking as well as restricting parking too close to driveways and adjacent streets, and restricting overnight parking except to residents only.

Commissioner Mike Haycock said he is both sympathetic to the neighborhood’s safety and traffic, and is also supportive of the town’s restaurants. He proposed he would like to meet with the Planning Department and the Chiles Group to determine a way to get more parking on their property and keep it off the streets.

Zunz suggested the restaurant work out an arrangement with the Whitney Beach Plaza owner to allow the kitchen and dining staff to park in the Plaza parking lot. Zunz also proposed the Mar Vista start taking reservations, it might help instead of  customers arriving all at once and having cars stack up. He added Linley and Russell Street should be one-sided parking only.

Village resident Gene Jaleski suggested the way to control the parking at Mar Vista is to prevent the restaurant from serving alcohol to anyone that isn’t seated at a table.

“The way to control the lines at the Mar Vista, is through restricting them from serving alcohol unless seated at a table. The Mar Vista has never been in dire straits. I do believe the one idea that the town can persuade them to use the reservation system is to take their parking away until they impart the reservation system. We are the taxpayers, why is it so weighted toward one man and his dominion? He doesn’t have the number of parking spaces for the number of tables he has,” said Jaleski.

Resident Benny Parrish implored the town commission to take the residents’ opinion over the businesses’ interest.

“What I have to add is that I hope you have the residents in the Village as the priority. The business should be secondary. They changed their seating to 169 years ago, so the burden should be put on them and not the citizens. As far as the valet parking goes, they were trying to get more people in the parking lot, I applaud that, but it’s spilling over to the streets,” said Parrish.

The commission gave consensus to limit street parking to one-sided parking and to have the Planning and Zoning Department work with the Chiles Group to re-arrange the parking lot at Mar Vista in order to create more on-site parking for customers.

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