Chicago Valet Operations Fined for Podium Placement

Chicago enforcement has taken a swing at valet parking. It handed out more citations during one month in 2016 than it did during the last two years, reports chicagobusiness.com. The citations were for violations of the placement of podiums and key boxes.

Valet companies received 76 citations for the “storage of goods on public ways” between Feb. 8 and March 10, up from 30 in all of 2015 and 42 in 2014, according to city data provided to Crain’s under an open-records request.

Valet operators are at a loss as to where to move the podiums and how to attract customers without visual cues and a secure place to lock keys. They say the flurry of ticketing was a complete shock.

“I’ve been doing valet for 30 years, and we’ve never been cited for having a podium or a key box in the sidewalk. Never,” says Carlos Vargas, owner of Valet Parking Authority, which runs valet operations at 34 locations in River North, Lincoln Park and the Loop. “All of a sudden, at the end of February, without a warning or a heads up or anything, they just show up and start giving us citations.”

If a municipality makes a law but doesn’t enforce it, people learn to ignore the law. When the municipality, one day, decides to enforce the law, without warning, that is perceived as antagonistic and unfair.

However, a spokeswoman for the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection said the ticketing was part of regular enforcement activity.

A meeting between city leaders and hospitality association representatives led to an agreement that the podiums and lock boxes can be used as long as they are not blocking pedestrian traffic.

Read the article here.

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