Dear PoPville – Where Do the Valets Park the Cars?

Le Diplomat Parking

“Dear PoPville,

Where is Le Diplomat parking all of the cars they valet? The can’t even find reasonable parking for their delivery trucks and frequently block the driveway behind the restaurant (see Pic above).

I’ve noticed a large decrease in parking in the neighborhood since they have opened. What are the rules for valet companies? Do they need to have designated parking to run a valet stand or is it typical for them to use on street parking?

On a side note (and I can’t prove it) I’ve seen an increase in orange cones in parking spaces in the evening where no construction or maintenance is being performed (coincidence?).”

61 Comment

  • On street. And feel free to move orange cones.

  • Many valets have deals with local fee-based parking garages to use them.

    As for the orange cones, it’s illegal (actually, arrestable under the aggressive panhandling laws in dc) to reserve a public parking space with any object or with your body. anytime I see chairs, cones, etc blocking a spot, I always put them on the sidewalk even if i’m not driving.

    • Any tips about the a-holes who stand in free spots “for their friend” who is “right around the corner”? This childish behavior drives me nuts, but I’m resigned to it since DC Is a city filled with me-firsters. I’ve given up on trying to point out the wrong they are causing, but would love a tip on how to get these idiots to back off. Usually I’m able to find a place to park elsewhere, but the inconvenience of people in my neighborhood holding spaces for what are usually their out of town guests is extremely aggravating.

      • Just start parkin, hopefilly they understant the car weighs more and get out the way

      • Has nothing to do with being a “city of me-firsters.” People do this everywhere.

      • I don’t see a problem with someone staking a spot for their friend. Have you tried making friends?

        • austindc

          I’ll have you know that my best friend, Coney, is actually an orange cone, and that’s him saving my spot for me. Sometimes for fun I yell into his pointy end and pretend he’s a big trumpet. Then we laugh and laugh and laugh until I cry from the crushing loneliness.

          • My buddy who lives in Brooklyn says his best investment has been the pair of large orange cones that he keeps in the trunk of his sh#tty Volvo. I think he bought them at a yard sale for $10.

            People are simply intimidated by official-looking, large orange cones. He’s gone for hours and his spot is still reserved. Nuts.

        • Ha, I wouldn’t stand in a street parking spot even if I had a friend pay me to do so since I’m not a selfish asshat. Unless your friend has some sort of mobility issue and they can only park IN THAT SPACE RIGHT THERE, there’s no excuse or reason for “reserving” a public parking space.

          • Ok, and how about if there is a mobility issue? I’m friends with a person who is severely mobility impaired, and yeah, I’ve stood in a parking space while she comes around the block, blue handicapped tag flying.
            Quite a few people have argued with me about this, but really, I (and you) can walk quickly and without pain. We could go three, four blocks and hardly notice. For her, finding a spot close to her destination is a necessary prerequisite for dining out. She has had to give up and go home for lack of nearby parking. So give a mobility-impaired girl a break, please?

          • That’s why I said “unless your friend has some sort of mobility issue.”

    • This reminds me of digging your car out after a snow in Chicago. You’d throw your patio furniture in the spot once you dug it out. If someone moved your funiture and parked there – they somehow lost the air in there tires. It was understood that someone worked their butt off for that spot and not to ruin it for them.

      • I think there’s a big difference between just saving a spot cuz you’re too lazy to look around for one and saving a spot that you spent a considerable amount of time and energy digging out of.

      • Yep, I don’t park in spots being “held” by “friends” because I don’t want to worry about my car being vandalized, or have it actually vandalized by some a-hole who thinks they can unilaterally “reserve” a public good. Like I said, it’s an annoyance, but one I’m seeing occur more and more often. I’ve thought of vandalizing the car of the “friend” but figure two wrongs don’t make a right. Maybe a passive-aggressive note or two will help me work out my anger.

      • andy

        That’s kind of what started to happen around here during Snowmageddon if you remember. Not sure given warming trends whether we’ll ever see that kind of thing again.

        • Farmers Almanac is predicting a cold and snowy winter! And the squirrels have bushier tails this fall, so it will definitely happen. Keep your lawn chairs and traffic cones handy for saving your parking space!

  • They are legally obligated to have dedicated off-street parking for any car they valet park from the establishment. However, many places (Ruth’s Chris on 9th and H NW, for example) just street park the cars, as while they may very well have a lease in a garage or a lot nearby, they will park in a closer on-street space if it is faster and easier for them to do so. If you see a valet parking a private car in an on-street space, write down the make, model, and plate # of the car and the name of the Valet company from the jacket of the driver and call 311 to report it, and also shoot an email to your ANC about the problem. Or, if you are feeling particularly bold, go into the establishment and tell the manager on duty.
    DDOT will eventually send out an inspector to valet a car, and if they catch them parking it on the street, the valet company will be fined. If they get several fines, they will lose the valet license for the establishment in question.

    • Is that your goal, to help them loss their license for valet parking?

      That doesn’t seem like a good solution considering it will hurt the new businesses in the area.

      Work with your council member before you go trying to tear down a new business.

      Do you think we can exist in this city without the businesses. They has as much right as residents to do their thing.

      Really… come on.

      • Um, illegal is illegal. Business (and residents) do not have the right to do illegal things.

        • So close ’em all down…

          Illegal is illegal.

          • Yep, illegal is illegal, whatever the business. Do it right and by the book or don’t do it at all. Or at least don’t get upset when you get busted for breaking the law.

            Jeez, what a model citizen you must be.

      • This city is far too accommodating to cars. I am happy with eliminating traffic by making it more difficult for cars in DC.

        • What a silly, generalized thing to say.

        • Does that go for those of us who live in DC but need to commute by car out of the city? How about those who need cars/vans for their work (delivery, contractors, etc)? Those with small kids?

        • “Far too accommodating” haha.

          This person has obviously never owned a car before. Otherwise he/she would know that paying exorbitant registration/licensing and parking fees/tickets aren’t exactly accommodating to DC residents… not to mention the headaches caused by trouble finding parking available parking spaces taken day and night by cars with MD and VA plates around the place you call home.

          I understand what I’m getting into living in a city like DC with a car, but you dumb, fur real.

          • “Exorbitant registration and licensing fees”? Really??
            My recollection is that it’s $72/year, plus $35/year if you want a residential parking permit.

          • First time registration (especially on a new car) is extremely expensive in DC.

          • That doesn’t sound too hard. I want something like a London congestion charge in this city, though I know that will be politically impossible.

        • clevelanddave

          Is this Harriet Tregoning?

      • Well, yes, I guess it is my goal that they either valet legally or lose the license to valet. If you can’t do something responsibly, you should not be allowed to do it at all.
        Pretty simple, but let me break it down for you. The laws defining what a Valet company can and cannot do are clear, and a logical response to the need to balance valet service with residential and metered commercial parking needs. If you own a business and you have a contractor who is not operating legally, you have an obligation to stop contracting with them and find someone who is legal or to force them to behave in a legal way. I would also expect a restaurant to either fire the valet company and find a different one or force the valet to obey the law if they discovered that the valet parking attendants were using the cars for joyriding or to run a drug delivery service.
        If a business cannot, or through sheer laziness as is the case with most valet violators, simply will not operate legally, then yes, shut it down. No sympathy, no pity from me. We have rules and laws to keep things functioning properly. It is your duty as a business owner to know the laws that apply to you and to follow them. This is what keeps the dry cleaner from wearing your beautiful dress to an event and then putting it back on a hanger for you to pick up, what keeps the restaurant from serving you the food someone else just sent back to the kitchen after they cut off the bite mark, and what prevents bars from selling martinis to twelve year olds.
        Follow the rules, and you won’t have any trouble. Don’t follow the rules, and you can (and should) be forced into compliance. Sometimes the heavy hand is needed to get people to do what they should have been doing all along. For an excellent example, go watch how fast the owner of a booted car pays the parking tickets they’ve been getting notices about for weeks.

        • For a not-so-excellent example, watch what happens to the taxi drivers who haven’t installed credit card readers by Oct 1. My bet….nothing.

          • figby

            I would generally agree with you, but given the city’s budget probs and weird, intermittent crackdowns on things like wearing a seatbelt in the backseat of a cab, I bet if the city thinks they could make a buck off enforcement they will be all over it that day.

      • It’d be great for law-breaking businesses to be shut down. Why do you support a business that breaks the law and makes DC a that much more of an aggravating place to live? By your logic, residents should have as much right to *park* in the spaces that are exclusive for valet use at night and on weekends. Really…come on.

      • The valets will try whatever means necessary they can to block off these spots. I have seen them outside Ultrabar, CoCo Sala and Ruth’s Chris moving cones and blocking spots with their chairs. I have gone to the restaurant management, and have called U Street Parking (always the suspect Valet company) and get a “well, I can’t control them” attitude. So, they do not care and until they get a violation they will continue to do so. Ultrabar doesn’t even have the street sign that says they have valet on weekends (permanent or non permanent).

        • If they don’t have the permanent valet parking zone sign, it’s probably not a legal valet zone anyway. Just park there. They cannot tow you if they do not have a permit.
          And you’re right – I’ve tried talking with owners, and always get the “well, they’re just a contractor… I can’t make them follow the law” bs. A $1,000 fine gets their attention every single time without fail. I go for what works. There is not a venue in this city with a valet operation that doesn’t KNOW they’re breaking the rules.

  • Um, parking in the area around 14th and Q was difficult long before Le Diplomate opened.

    • Thank you! Yes! Let’s not blame the newest (and tastiest) kid on the block here. I have lived at 13th and Q for four years and can testify to the fact that parking was already getting difficult to find way before Le Dip opened. We actually got rid of our car 4 or 5 months before it opened because (among other reasons) the frustration of finding a parking space was outweighing the benefits of our limited use of the car.

  • Businesses that rely on people who drive need to accommodate people who drive. People who live in a city need to have parking restrictions that prevent “interlopers” from taking their street parking spaces. Drivers of cars parked in an illegal space may learn a good lesson if someone simply takes a key and presses on their tire valve, deflating the tire but causing no damage.

    • That’s an obnoxious, malicious suggestion. While letting the air out of someone’s tires may not cause any direct, physical damage, stranding a person like that could have other consequences.

      • “Other consequences” can be instructional. This is not hobbling the camels in your desert caravan leaving you to the mercy of buzzards. It’s like – calling AAA.

        • It’s still considered vandalism, and worse yet, if the wrong person catches you in the act, you may very well wish that you’d minded your own business instead.

    • It may be instruction – may be – but it’s counter-productive. It forces a car to stay in the dapce far longer than it would have otherwise, while the driver calls AAA and waits and waits and waits. Silly.

  • I wish I had known that valets couldn’t legally park cars on the street when I witnessed this on 8th Street next to Proof — a valet moving the car that he had previously parked in the middle of a two-car space so that he could park his double-parked second valet car in the other half of the space.

  • I live around the corner and wondered the same thing so I asked. They park in a lot. Don’t forget, lots of new things have been opening in our neighborhood and parking has been tough for a while. While I agree it’s a total clusterf*** around there sometimes it sure beats the abandoned dry cleaners.

    • So it seems like the non-valet parkers are in fact the ones making parking more difficult in the neighborhood, if that’s the case. Probably too much to ask, but would it be appropriate for the restaurant to comp/validate the valet charge for diners simply to get cars into the valet lot rather than parking in the neighborhood?

  • 2010: “I wish my neighborhood would redevelop so that I could have nice places to eat and drink.”
    2013: “I have nice places to eat and drink but I can’t find parking. Whaaa!”

    • Seriously. The epitome of 1st World Problems.

      2015: “Waaaaaaaaah, I have all this equity in my condo and I can’t spend it fast enough. All the good contractors are booked and I can’t wait a year for them to re-do my kitchen, install skylights, and add a terrace. Waaaaaaaaah.”

  • I live around the corner and have watched the valet people to see where they go… it seems they have a deal with Garrison Elementary and park (most) cars in their lot on 13th.

  • For Le Diplomat in particular I find the mess caused by cars dropping people off on Q to be a bigger issue. I regularly drive or bike down Q during the evening rush and have witnessed:
    1) Two cabs pulled up SIDE BY SIDE on Q blocking the travel lane and the bike lane. Blocked the entire street until both sets of passengers were unloaded.
    2) A cab turning off of 14th and just stopping angled onto Q, partially in the bike lane.
    3) A woman stopping her car in the travel lane on Q and GETTING OUT OF THE CAR to go find the valet. No attempt to pull to the side so cars could squeeze by on the bike lane side

    In all instances this backs traffic up on Q through 2 or 3 light cycles since nobody can get through (and sometimes 14th when people try to go and block the box). If somebody can get parking enforcement’s attention they should suggest setting a cop up on the corner and just ticketing people doing stupid, selfish illegal sh*t.

    • TOTALLY agree – the drop off/pick up point is a mess and screws up traffic.

      Additionally, if they do park on the street and you get a ticket (and they could hide it from you, you never know), you’re responsible for the ticket. A great system.

    • Every time I walk by, there is always some pathetic rich dude in his Mercedes parked in the entirety of the crosswalk while waiting his turn for the valet, completely blocking pedestrians from crossing the street.

      • I’ve often been tempted to do a quick two-step on the hood/trunk of cars that block the crosswalk. Tempted, but never tried it.

        • In Boston we would just give his hood or trunk a good thwack with our fist to let him know he’s in the wrong. It’s a primitive method, but it feels good and lowers your boiling blood pressure.

          • It also ups the ante and might prompt the driver of the car to get out and threaten/assault the hood-thwacker (as in a case posted on PoPville several months ago).

      • figby

        Ha — while yelling into his smartphone. Exactly. I like this place but I can’t wait until it becomes just another restaurant and not the douchelord-magnet it is currently.

    • This is happening at Mike Isabela’s new place Kapnos at 14th and W, as well. So friggin’ annoying.
      At least they’re parking the cars in the building’s new garage.

      • Actually, they’re parking the cars in the garage of the building I live in (Union Row), which is incredibly annoying when i get home from work , around 8 pm, and there’s a line of cars in the alley leading up to the entrance of my building’s garage. they also block W street with cars, as described above on Q st. Very frustrating/annoying…

  • A friend from VA met me at LeDiplomate earlier this summer. She pulled up, gave her car to the valet. We went in and were seated outside and her car was parked at a space right in front of us on Q St. When it was time to leave, the valet was so busy we just asked for the keys and drove away. Not sure why we paid full price for that service.

    Also, we kept thinking, what if the car got a ticket or hit?

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