The City Council gave the green light this week to a six-month trial valet parking program in North Manhattan Beach, a service intended to reduce noise at night for residents, lessen parking hassles for patrons and increase business for restaurants.
For an $8 flat fee, people will be able to drop off their vehicle in front of Upper Manhattan Restaurant and Lounge at 3600 Highland Avenue. Coast to Coast Valet will chauffeur and store the vehicles at the Verandas parking lot on Rosecrans Avenue, which is also open for self-parking for the same fee.
Organizers had orginally proposed that drivers retrieve their cars in front Upper Manhattan as well as drop them off there, but the council balked at the idea and asked staff to determine an alternate pick-up location to minimize noise and traffic in nearby neighborhoods.
So far, a reasonable pickup location seems to be an area on the west side of Highland Avenue, south of 36th Street, said Laurie Jester, acting director of the city's Community Development Department.
Once the spot is confirmed, Coast to Coast will post signs directing patrons where to retrieve their cars.
Harry Diaz, manager of Coast to Coast, disagreed with the council's opinion that a pickup location other than Upper Manhattan would be preferable. He said it would be too confusing for customers to drop off and retrieve at different spots and that it might be difficult for women in high heels to walk the extra distance to the new pickup location.
However, he expressed a willingness to compromise. "I want to do it, so we'll try to work it out so that everybody's happy," he said.
Plans for a valet service in front of Upper Manhattan Restaurant and Lounge have been in the works for a year and a half.
Mike Quagletti, owner of Upper Manhattan, said he noticed that as more yoga studios opened on the street, there was less parking available for his customers. In April, Quagletti presented a valet parking proposal to the Parking and Public Improvements Commission (PPIC), which approved the plan last month. Quagletti said he hopes the valet service will help bring more business to his restaurant and nearby eateries such as OB's Pub & Grill and Katsu Restaurant.
Residents were quick to point out what they saw as the pilot program's disadvantages.
A homeowner who lives on 36th Street, which falls on the proposed valet route, told the council she does not want more traffic in front of her house because noise levels from rowdy late-night revelers are already too high.
"Yeah, because they park their cars on the street," Diaz responded later in an interview. "If they use the valet, they won't have to walk by [her] house."
Patten Courtnell, a resident who spoke on behalf of her 36th Street neighbors, said there needs to be a balance between commercial and residential interests.
Though a start date has not yet been specified, an interim report three months into the pilot program will be assessed by the PPIC to determine any necessary changes.