As recently as a couple of years ago, shared valet systems were the next big thing, attracting venture capital investments, but like car-sharing before it, has the concept's time passed?
Here in West Hollywood, a shared valet system in the area around the PDC and West Hollywood Park is the backbone of the Parking Credits Program which allows businesses to intensify while crediting their parking requirements against available space in public garages.
The original shared valet stands in front of SUR and PUMP have been quite a success.
However, the shared valet stand outside of Revolver, a block East and on the opposite side of Santa Monica, quietly went away late last week.
Our sources tell us that in order to have a shared valet stand, a sponsoring business must guarantee revenue, and make up the difference if it isn't met. After months of paying for people who weren't parking, the business behind the valet stand gave it up. Which raises three questions:
- Why weren't people using the shared valet at this particular location?
- Can I park there now?
- What will the City do with the parking spaces?
So why didn't it work here? Since 2012, the number of taxi trips has declined in West Hollywood by 40 to 60 percent. Parking meter hours have been extended until midnight and the Library Plinth garage has been taken out of service for park construction. You'd think that would push demand towards a shared valet system, but in this case it didn't.
One theory is that a shared valet system works better with restaurants rather than in a nightlife district. If one is going to a nightclub, one may not want to leave their car with a valet, should they have to leave it overnight. These patrons may be switching to TNCs like Uber and Lyft rather than driving to begin with. That's the best we can come up with to explain it!
Can I park there now? Technically, the two spots in front of Revolver and Block Party remain tow away zones. City parking enforcement had only enforced them when called by the valet operators. So you might be able to park there without getting a ticket. However, parking there is at your own risk. Since it is still a tow-away zone, you'll be on the hook for about $280 if they decide to enforce it–and even having a handicap placard won't save you from being towed.
What will the City do with the parking spaces? There are three options. The City could change the two spots back to taxi zones as they had been previously. The City could also just return them to regular revenue parking meter spaces. However, this may be an opportunity to think creatively about how we use Uber and Lyft, and create a designated pickup zone so that anybody leaving Flaming Saddles, Trunks or Fiesta after having a few have a convenient and clear spot to meet a driver.