Drop Off Your Car at One Valet, Pick Up at Another

For merchants on Third Street between the Beverly Center and the Grove, the lack of parking for customers has been a perennial problem.
In recent years, that problem has been made worse by aggressive valet services using the scarce metered parking spaces. Those metered spaces are meant for the general public, like my customers, said Deborah Wolsh, owner of clothing boutique Ethel and vice president of the West Third Street Business Association.

In response, Third Street merchants have launched a program called a valet parking district: Merchants have pooled their resources to bring in a single valet operator who sets up stands at several points along the milelong strip. Shoppers and diners can drop their cars off at one valet stand and pick up their cars at a different stand.

This is really intended as a park-once service, so you dont have to worry about having to find another parking space or contend with multiple valet services, said Mott Smith, a parking consultant hired by the association to help set up the program. A similar valet parking district has been operating for two years in Old Town Pasadena.

Los Angeles-based Regent Parking Inc. is providing valet service for the West Third Street shopping district. Regent Parking charges $2 or $3 to park customers cars, about half the rate valet services typically charge in the area. As that price wont cover the cost of the service, local merchants have kicked in about $150,000.

The program officially launched Nov. 28 and will operate during weekends through the holiday season. It went very well, Wolsh said after the first weekend.

After the holidays, the valet district will expand as more merchants sponsor stations, Smith said. The locations of the stations will change as the program is fine-tuned. Regent Parking President Brad Saltzman said winning the contract will help offset some recent business his company lost to low-cost valet companies.

Regent Parking wont have a monopoly, however. The valet companies that provide services to specific restaurants and nightspots along Third Street may still operate valet stands in front of their venues. The district valet program will face the same underlying challenge: There are more shoppers than there are parking spaces for their cars. In an effort to address that problem, the Third Street program has been given access to parking at the Beverly Connection shopping center on Third Street and La Cienega Boulevard.

But thats on the western side of the shopping strip, and wont help shops and their customers closer to Farmers Market on the east. Smith said the association is looking for more parking locations.

Meanwhile, other areas of Los Angeles are watching West Third Streets effort.

One of the things people here are thinking about would be to create a district valet for the entire area, said Kerry Morrison, executive director of the Hollywood Entertainment District, a merchant-based business improvement district. You would have quality control and uniformity and be able to drop the car off in one spot and retrieve it at another spot.
Regent Hospitality Parking
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