Dear PoPville – Valet Parking Abuses

by Prince Of Petworth May 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm 37 Comments


Dear PoPville,

I wanted to email you about valet companies/restaurants probably illegally profiting from the use of public parking spaces.

I was meeting a friend last night for dinner in Chinatown, and found a spot to park. It was by 7th and Indiana. As I was in the middle of parallel parking, a man in a valet parking uniform came up and blocked my way claiming it was a valet spot.

I’m a little familiar with Chinatown and I know that certain spots are marked as valet spots. I challenged the guy and said ‘doesn’t look like it. There’s no special valet sign, just a normal sign stating the zone and that it’s a 2 hour spot.’ We argued back and forth for a bit but as he was not budging and another spot opened up, I just went ahead and took that spot. I was pretty sure the guy was being sketchy so I called Dc police to ask about parking policy; I was told that if there’s no special valet sign they can’t just randomly claim any parking space by standing on it. The police said that they would be happy to come over and settle the dispute. I said it was okay as I had found another spot and that I wanted to know what to do in the future.

Of course, I pretty much knew that those sketchy valets knew but I decided to confront them and tell them that they were wrong. They pretended to play stupid and instructed to talk to the restaurant manager that they were working for. When I spoke to the restaurant manager, she instructed me to call the valet company they use to contract out the job. Of course, neither party is taking any responsibility and is not even pretending to remedy the obvious abuse of public property. (I.e “We will look into it.”)

Anyways, it incenses me that private companies like this should be profiting from public parking spaces like that. They should at least do the decent thing and get a permit for that like most every other restaurant. So anyways, I would like to write a letter to the appropriate DC government agency and I was wondering if you could direct me.

District Department of Transportation?

Example of how a valet sign should look:



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