City Regulates Valet Parking Business

March 25, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — Calling it a good policy to protect the public rights-of-way, city commissioners created an ordinance last week that will regulate valet parking.

Starting next month, valet parkers will have to be licensed through the city clerk’s office and renew the licenses annually. Firms also will be required to use off-street spaces to park customers’ cars and will be restricted from using curbside meters as parking spaces.

“That would be allowing a private business to use a public space for a gain,” said Michael McGuire, an attorney with the city who wrote the ordinance. “We want to have these spots open to everybody.”

Valet parkers also need to get clearance from the city in order to use a public space as a customer pick-up and drop-off site. These firms also must carry workers’ compensation, at least $500,000 worth of both general and automobile liability insurance, along with $100,000 of garage-keepers liability coverage.

Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance.

“That is good public policy for the city to do,” said Mayor John Logie.

“I’m glad we’re finally getting some regulation on this,” said Rick Tormala, 2nd Ward Commissioner.

Valet parkers who double-park or block a traffic lane will be in violation of the ordinance, and could lose their license or have it suspended. Parking Services and Traffic Safety are likely to enforce the regulation.

The ordinance also requires a different license for valet parking at special events.

The issue was raised at the Parking Commission last summer when an Ionia Avenue business owner complained that a valet parking company was locking up all the metered spaces on the street for customers of two firms that paid for the service. He added that valet parking employees were only putting money in the meters when customers’ cars were about to be ticketed.

Parking commissioners gave their approval to a draft of the ordinance in December.

The ordinance will go into effect on March 28. License fees will be based on the city’s cost to enforce the regulation and will be set by city commissioners. Copies of the ordinance are available in the city clerk’s office on the second floor of City Hall at 300 Monroe NW.

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