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December 1, 2009

Do you like valet parking?

Valet parking is becoming more common in Walnut Creek, especially now during the holidays with the Downtown Business Association offering valet parking for $5 to $7. But prior to the start of this program on November 20, there had already been valet parking for the Cheesecake Factory in the parking garage at Plaza Escuela and in the parking garage for Nordstrom.

We dodged a very massive valet parking bullet with the original proposal for a new Neiman Marcus in Broadway Plaza. The original project plans would have necessitated transforming the entire South Main Street garage into valet parking during peak shopping times. That proposal faced legal challenges, which forced changes to the project--including the elimination of
the valet parking scheme. The rest, I guess, is history, with Walnut Creek voters saying "yes" on November 3 to a more modest new department store project, sans valet parking, in Broadway Plaza.

I call the original proposal, with is massive valet parking scheme, “annoying” because I am so not a fan of valet parking. But by making this statement, I am not objecting to the holiday valet parking program, coordinated by the city, the Downtown Business Association, and Signature Parking. This program may provide an elegant solution to holiday shopping and parking hassles.

My aversion to valet parking is strictly personal, and perhaps neurotic.

I’m just wondering if anyone else out there shares this aversion as well.

In my job, I have had the opportunity to eat at very nice restaurants or stay in very nice hotels—the kind where you have to drive up and valet park. First of all, I drive a 10-year-old Toyota, with its fair share of scratches, bangs, and rust forming on the rim of my driver’s side door. I always feel self-conscious pulling up to a hotel behind a shiny new BMW or Porsche.

The only benefit of having a crappy older car (which runs very well, by the way) and turning it over to a valet is that I’m not going to get all that bummed if it gets bumped.

But my biggest problem with valet parking is that I feel like I’m giving up control and access to easy mobility. Maybe this is an American thing, with our love of our wheels. I don't know. Or it's more evidence of my own neurosis. This sense of giving up control becomes more of an issue if you go to a hotel, where your car gets parked somewhere--maybe blocks away--and then you have to call the front desk and wait for someone to bring your car around if you want to leave the property. If I'm visiting a beautiful place with lots to sight-seeing opportunities, I just want to be able to leave my room, hop into my car, and go.

Valet parking would never be my first, second, or even third choice in Walnut Creek. I gave in to local valet parking when I attended a family dinner at Scott’s. When dinner was done and we said our good-byes, it irked my neurotic, impatient self that I couldn’t just walk out of that restaurant, find my car in the underground garage that serves that restaurant, and go. I had to wait! The night we went, there was one guy on duty, and he was a bit overworked, so it took me, like 10 minutes, to get my car.

But maybe you like valet parking. I have a co-worker who very much likes it, and was even excited about the original Neiman Marcus/Broadway Plaza valet parking proposal. He's the kind of guy who drives a cool-looking car, dresses well, and probably thinks valet parking makes things easier for him. He probably also likes that VIP feeling that a valet parking service can provide. (By the way, doesn't the guy in this silhouetted image remind you of Mad Men's Don Draper?)

To me, valet parking just feels so restrictive.

But again, I'm not voicing any general disapproval of this holiday valet parking program. I'm just stating my personal valet parking "issue." Think I should talk to my therapist about it?
If using this downtown valet parking service makes sense to you, helps to ease your holiday parking and shopping stress, go for it! Here are more details from Signature Parking's blog:

The program will incorporate several of our existing curbside locations at Il Fornaio and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse alongside a new location at 1250 Locust Street, (The Old Veterans Building Lot) located directly across from Century Theaters. The Fee for valet parking at the new Locust Street location will be $5 and all other participating locations throughout town will charge $7.

The Public Valet Locations can be easily identified by valet podiums with large signs indicating “Public Valet Parking”, with valet attendants in Red Polo Shirts.

It is our goal to make valet parking a convenient and easily accesible parking option for all visitors of downtown Walnut Creek. As an added convenience, customer of the service will be able to drop off accumulated shopping purchases at the valet station for delivery to their vehicles, making extended shopping and dining outings easier.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't stand valet parking. I guess I'm a control freak...I want to park my on car and be able to get to it when I want to.

Anonymous said...

If I were rich, I would use valet parking. However, I am too frugal to spend money when I can park a car myself.

I don't like the idea of having a total stranger drive my car. Yes, I am a germaphobe. If a valet damages your car, the parking company should pay for all repairs. They have insurance. Paying for repairs is routine for them. They know how to take care of it.

I am also one of those paranoid people. I park on the top level of parking garages where there are no cars around. I don't even want to be near other cars.

DumbAsBricks said...

I have had really nice cars and really crappy cars. I just don't like handing over my keys to my car with my personal belongings inside. It's gross. It is like drinking from the glass of a stranger. Very odd.

Anonymous said...

I despise valet parking...code of the Wild West, always be able to get out of someplace in a hurry. Valet parking is too So-Cal also. Northern Californians are not too feeble to park their own vehicles.

Anonymous said...

I resent the pressure to 'tip' the person you just got your car from. Another middleman with their hand out for a service injected into your life.

If you don't 'tip', do you feel like you just stiffed the valet person? I do. I hate valet parking.

Soccer Mom said...

I wonder if there are two kinds of people in the world: the kind who like valet parking and then those of us who don't, for various reasons.

Michael H. said...

Valet Parking provides consumers with a choice - and I'm all for having more choices, especially when it comes to convenient parking. The key benefit of valet parking is being able to drive straight to the front of your destination, be it Nordstrom or Cheescake Factory, and thus avoid the hassles associated with driving around searching for parking, or parking and walking long distances. Status seekers and impatient people also enjoy Valet Parking. If you valet park at Nordstrom, you can be in the womens shoe department faster than you can click your heels. With that being said, valet parking isnt for everyone, especially those like a bit more control over their possessions. Personally, I have no attachment to my vehicle and I trust that should something happen, the valet company and/or business employing them will be act responsibly in handling it.

Anonymous said...

Like others, I associate valet parking with vapid southern California status seekers and resent the pressure to tip yet another person.

That said, I think the current plan is worth trying to see if it helps with the parking situation. Just not my cup of tea.

Anonymous said...

Even though I'm a notorious cheapskate, valet parking is a good idea in Walnut Creek. WC contracts it's parking enforcement out to a private company which must get paid per citation as they are very aggressive.

One of the reasons I don't prefer shopping in downtown Walnut Creek is because of the strict parking enforcement.

LeftCoast said...

I hate it. I paid 7 bucks just to watch a valet at McCovey's drive my car across the street and park it because they leased or sub lease the lot and there was no where else to park that my 84 yr old father could feasibly walk from. Valet parking should be capped at 2 bucks, it shouldn't be a profit center. Maybe then I'd consider tipping the guys who just drove MY car.

Anonymous said...

I don't like giving anyone my car keys. For that matter, I don't like anyone driving my car other than myself and my spouse. Certainly, I would not hand my shopping bags over to a valet to take to my car.

I want to park my car myself. If the city cannot provide parking, then I shop somewhere else. There's plenty of options besides downtown WC. Stoneridge, Blackhawk Plaza, etc.

It's pretty clear WC is more interested in developments that increase their tax base and parking is a mere afterthought. That kind of thinking makes ms shop elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Don't mind valet parking, but despise the attitude that seems to follow Walnut Creek Valet parking. For example... the other day I was making a left turn in the driveway/parking lot bt PF Changs & that kitchen store and the valets had parked cars in the in and out lanes!

Anonymous said...

I hate valet parking for all the reasons cited above. LeftCoast has a good point. Very few small lots are available to non-valets downtown anymore. While it's good to have "choices," we who won't waste seven bucks to park are finding the supply of spaces dwindling.

Killjoy said...

I hate Valet parking. I don't like other people driving my car.
I also want to be able to walk out the door, and get in my car and go.
I don't want to have to wait ten minutes for my car to show up.

Jojo Potato said...

I don't like valet parking. What I don't like more is the number of parking places, especially along Main street that have been taken out of normal use for the valets. It seems like a ploy to force us into using the valets.

Elizabeth said...

HATE it!!! I was so angry when they were proposing that valet idea for Neiman Marcus!! I only like it in San Francisco when I'm going to dinner and time is of the essence, but here in Walnut Creek, it angers me, and I'm like you, I want to just go to my car and leave. Not wait for someone to get my car.

Michael H. said...

For the Anti-Valet crowd, think about this for a moment: Valet Parking creates more space for YOU to park. Yep you heard me right. In Walnut Creek (and most other cities) Valet staff are not allowed to use public spaces, other than their designated 1-2 space on-street loading zones. The valet company and/or restaurant all have arrangements with private property owners to use privately owned parking lots - parking space that would otherwise be gated off and empty at night. For every car that uses valet parking, that's one potential self parking car taken out of circulation, one less car that you Self Parkers will be battling with as you drive around and around competing for a self parking space.

LeftCoast said...

Or Michael H. those lots could be made free after 5:00 for the poeple spending money and supporting downtown businesses. That would in fact also increase the number of available spaces. Or they could even charge 2 bucks for me to park my car there. I would be ok with either, this would also take away the ripoff valet fee and eliminate the cars driving around looking for spaces in just as effective a manner.

Anonymous said...

Michael H's assertion is that if those private lots weren't being used for valet they would be unused. Not sure about that.

Michael H's profile says he lives in Santa Barbara. The WC valet company, Signature Parking, is based in Santa Barbara and owned by Michael Holmstrom.

Anonymous said...

LefCoast what is wrong with you? Maybe I missed it but I have not seen anything in the US Constitution which guarantees you a convenient free or cheap parking spot, not even if you eat dinner with your 84 year old father.

How about you drop your father off at McCovey's and afterwards go and find parking yourself? Or how about take a taxicab to the restaurant? Or choose a restaurant with more convenient free parking? Or how about you enjoy the convenience to have somebody park your car for 7 bucks? Why do you call it a rip off? Do you think valet parking is a get rich quick scheme? Maybe you should become a valet parker in that case? Or open a valet parking service.


Why do you think private parking lot owners or valet companies should offer you parking of your choice for 2 bucks?

And no the valet company doesn't want you to park self in the valet lot, because they will not want to be responsible for any parking damage you might do to their valet parked cars.

I'm sure glad I'm not your father ..... having dinner with my daughter fretting over having to spend 7 bucks for parking because my health doesn’t' allow me to walk very far any longer.

Michael H. said...

Sorry, in the interest of full disclosure, yes I own Signature Parking.

Masterlock said...

I was a valet at Broadway plaza many years ago during the holidays and at the San Ramon Marriot and can't stand being forced to use valet parking. The idea of paying to park and then having to tip to get your car back drives me batty.

At the same time, if people want it, fine - but making it mandatory just isn't right.

LeftCoast said...

I made no assertions regarding the constitution Michael, and thanks for the disclosure that helps a lot. I have a question, how did you arrive at $7.00 as the price, how is your pricing regulated. Why couldn't it be 2.00? The queswtion is just as vlid as any you posed to me. And really since it seems to be no real skin off your butt, why don't you give me a free pass when I come into town with my father? Seems a lot more humane and is just a valid a comment as you insinuating I'm a cheapskate.

Anonymous said...

If you made no assertions regarding the constitution why did you pretend like cheap or free parking is your constitutional right?

Must have been a lovely dinner with your father. After getting all po'd over the 7 bucks parking you probably cross examined the poor waiter at McCovey's "how did you arrive at 19.95 for the grilled salmon? Why can I not grill it myself in your kitchen for 5 bucks? This is such a rip off"

LeftCoast said...

You got any more pretend actions and behaviors you'd like to ascribe to me? Why stop with wild speculation as to my interactions with the waiters? You weren't there, you have no idea what occurred and you present nothing but straw men accusations and arguements. If your position was so wonderful you'd see a lot of people supporting it, but you don't do you. Fortunately the constitution guarantees you the right to express yourself like an intolerant idiot (with apologies to most intolerant idiots out there). It also guarantees me the right to an opinion as well whether you like it or not.

I look forward to more responses where your intellect and brilliance shines through as eloquently as in your last posts, you are a beacon of intelligence and intolerance to us all.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the thinking in downtown Walnut Creek. Are they trying to make themselves into a mini-San Francisco? San Francisco has some good shopping, no question about it. But I stopped shopping there years ago because of the parking. Hear that Walnut Creek? P-A-R-K-I-N-G. Walnut Creek has more in common with Palo Alto than SF, and even Palo Alto got it right. They have several lots in downtown and plenty of on-street parking. Why is Walnut Creek following the San Francisco model? The parking problems in W.C. keep me away from both eating and shopping there.

Anonymous said...

Chicks dig it when I tell them I valet parked. So I valet park!

Anonymous said...

Valet parking is so lame i boils down to pure laziness and that is the problem with this counrty lazy fat butts that can't walk a block or two. Geez!!

Daytona sedan service said...

I hate valet only lots, what bothers me about Valet parking is not having a self park option. I understand many areas charge for parking and I'm fine with that my friend lives in a high end condo in Miami and its places like his that I despise. The condo is 100% valet only, which is a huge pain in the ass, it always takes 10-15 minutes to get your car, you have to tip every time for a service I don't want and as others mentioned your car is at risk for new found dings dents and curbed wheels. I have no problem if people like to use valet I just don't want it forced upon me! Personally I am willing to pay more not to have valet park! I take pride in my vehicles and I also like the ability to get and use my vehicle when ever I was vs waiting on some idiot to bring the car too me. Saidly valet only seems to be a plague of high end hotels and condos. $30 a day for parking fine, but let me park my own damn car! So to sum it up valet park if you like that's your choice but don't force me to valet. I ended up buying an old beater and now if I know I'm going to a valet only area I drive my beater vs my nice vehicles, much less stressful and valet guys always give me snobby lOoks

kale stone said...

Anyone may like or dislike valet parking. It totally depends on personal choice and the demand of the same person. Thanks for sharing a valuable post.


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Jenna Catlin said...

Valet parking is getting more common in Walnut Creek, merely during the summer holidays. along with that, many people don't want to hand over their cars to others. Park securely with Secure Car Parking Luton

carla grace said...

Who doesnt like a valet parking? apart from the control freaks... its quite convenient and relaxing kind of experience. gatwick meet and greet

perry cole said...

Enjoy the privileges of all kinds of parking at gatwick parking south terminal and do not worry about the safe keeping of your car anymore.

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