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Restaurant Owner Puts the Brakes on Valet Program

Mike Quagletti of Upper Manhattan Restaurant and Lounge bows to residents' concerns about noise and traffic in withdrawing his proposal.

Facing resistance from residents concerned about noise and traffic, restaurant owner Mike Quagletti last week withdrew his proposal for a trial valet parking program in El Porto.

"At this particular time, I decided to pull it," said Quagletti, owner of Upper Manhattan Restaurant and Lounge. "Once summer is over, so is a lot of our business. It didn't make sense to push it any further."

Quagletti said he had hoped that a valet service would eliminate parking hassles for patrons. The scarcity of street parking has deterred people from going to his lounge and other restaurants in the area, including OB's Pub & Grill and Katsu Restaurant, he said.

Though customers can self-park at the Verandas parking lot for an $8 fee, Quagletti said he had received complaints from female customers who didn't want to walk up the steep slope in high heels.

In April, Quagletti submitted a proposal that had not been sponsored by the North Manhattan Beach Business Improvement District, which was created by the city in 2004 to replace a previous BID focused more narrowly on bringing additional parking to the area.

Under the proposal, customers would have been able to drop off and retrieve their cars in front of his restaurant on Highland Avenue. A valet company would then store the cars at Verandas (see map).

The City Council had approved the program July 6, on condition that city staff work with Quagletti to determine a valet route that would avoid neighboring residential streets.

Councilman Wayne Powell said Thursday that in theory the program would have decreased traffic in the area. "However, in practice, there were too many other issues that it created," he said, "so at the end of the day, it's not going to happen."

Powell said he received dozens of e-mails from residents who lived on or near 36th Street, one of the roads on the proposed valet route.

Many told Powell and other council members that they had not been properly notified of the pending program and voiced opposition to the perceived noise that would result from valet attendants chauffering cars on their street.

Quagletti said he is not pursuing any new proposals. If other businesses are interested in a valet service, they will have to consider the traffic impact on nearby homes, Councilwoman Portia Cohen said Thursday.

"What they know now, having experienced council discussion, is that any valet program will have to avoid the residential neighborhood," she said. "So that will be critical."

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