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Local News

Santa Barbara Considers Imposing Annual $1,200 On-Street Valet Parking Fee

Ordinance Committee to discuss plan for fee, along with $400 setup charge, to compensate city for valet use of rights of way and staff reviews

On-street valet operators sometimes take over public curbside parking spaces or loading zones in the public right of way, generally in front of the business they serve.
On-street valet operators sometimes take over public curbside parking spaces or loading zones in the public right of way, generally in front of the business they serve. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk file photo)

The City of Santa Barbara on Tuesday will consider creating an annual $1,200 on-street valet parking permit fee.

The fee is designed to capture the cost of allowing valet companies and the restaurants they serve to park cars on public streets for their private service.

Valet attendants, particularly in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, where parking is scarce, sometimes set up on sidewalks and block or make it difficult for members of the public, who aren’t using the valet service, to park on public streets.

City staff is recommending the $1,200 fee, along with an initial set-up fee of $400. The money would compensate the city for the on-going use of the right of way, and cover the cost of staff to review of the Valet Parking Plan annually, and to conduct occasional on-site observations of the valet parking operation.

“There are different perspectives on the amount of fee and the use of the fee,” said Travis Hawley, the founder of BlueStar Parking. “If the money can be shared by a group for multiple citywide programs that could diffuse the reticence of creating a fee.”

The city’s three-member ordinance committee, made up of Council members Frank Hotchkiss, Cathy Murillo and Randy Rowse, will discuss the fee Tuesday.

City staff intends to make this fee payable on a quarterly basis. The idea is that one or more businesses in an area could pay the fee, and then use or share a valet service for their patrons.

On-street valet operators sometimes take over public curbside parking spaces or loading zones in the public right of way, generally in front of the business they serve. Valet company drivers then take the cars and park them in a variety of locations, including public parking lots, or on the street.

Hawley said he supports a citywide valet program. He is involved in a pilot program with Paseo Nuevo and the city to provide valet parking for customers of the downtown mall.

“We have the curbside valet parking there because Paseo does not want any patron to feel like they cannot visit any shop with ease,” Hawley said. “There is never a patron who would be turned away by lack of space. There’s never a time when you can’t park your vehicle and go to Paseo Nuevo.”

The valet service, however, is not free. It costs $7. Hawley said most people pay about $4 to drive into the Paseo Nuevo garage and park, so an extra $3 provides great value and convenience for the shopper who doesn’t want to go through the hassle of finding a place to park.

A $1,200 fee may or may not have an impact on the customer, Hawley said.

“The implementation of the city fee could result in the consumer paying for the service in a manner they may not have done previously,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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