Coral Gables sees $325,000 income from centralized valet service
Coral Gables’ central business district will be seeing major changes to its valet parking. The city commission has voted to let the city negotiate a three-year contract with Park One LLC to create a city-managed centralized valet system. The estimated annual revenue to the city is $325,000.
Full implementation probably won’t be possible until October, according to Kevin Kinney, parking director for Coral Gables. The parking department intends to have personal contact with every business that is even near a valet stand in order to fully explain the changes, Mr. Kinney said.
The contract with Park One LLC, the winner among the five final proposers, lasts three years with an option to renew for two additional two-year periods.
Commissioners Patricia Keon, Vince Lago, Michael Mena and Vice Mayor Frank Quesada voted in favor of both measures. The first resolution approved the change to a centralized valet system and the second awarded the contract to Park One.
According to the resolution, a centralized valet system would open up about 30 on-street parking spaces. Hotels in the central business district would continue to use their own valet companies.
“One of the prime moving issues was to try and reduce the number of spaces that were dedicated to valet. When we first looked at this, there were 27 different valet stands downtown. Today I think there are 22,” Mr. Kinney said. “Our proposal in the centralized valet program is to have 12 or 13. It’s to reduce the amount of our right-of-way that is dedicated to this service.”
Only Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli voted against both resolutions.
“I think 100% of the people in Coral Gables are very satisfied with the way the valet is working and with the kindness and politeness of the people that are currently staffing the valets,” Mr. Valdes-Fauli said. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I don’t think we’ve had accidents and I don’t think we’ve had problems.”
Under the new contract, valet parking will cost $8 per car and will rise to $10 per car only during special events, said Mr. Kinney. The resolution cited inconsistent pricing for service among the different valet companies downtown as a major concern, along with inconsistent customer service and parking violations by the valet companies.
Mr. Kinney said he collected $2,000 in valet parking fines in May alone from the Coral Gables central business district and said he thinks that he already had around $2,000 in fines for July.
“It’s like the wild, wild West out there. The people who are manning the valet stations are eating, they’re drinking and some of them don’t even speak English. It’s a problem,” Commissioner Vince Lago said. Mr. Lago also brought up parking violations and safety issues.
“When all these bagged and un-bagged meters are filled with VIP Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Mercedes and Porsches, they’re paying $25 and $50 per car and elderly people are forced to get out of their cars in the middle of Miracle Mile and walk,” Mr. Lago said. “I can only imagine the countless individuals who have fallen because people are forced to get out of their car because bagged and un-bagged meters are completely occupied with VIP service. I’ve caught people parking at meters when they’re not supposed to. With all of the effort that we have made in the downtown, this is one of the final pieces that are missing.”
Improved technology, consistent branding under one company and fewer valet stands overall will hopefully improve customer experience and convenience and cut down on violations, according to the resolution. Currently 22 valet stands operate in the central business district and while some violators are caught and fined, it’s impossible to have someone monitoring each stand, Mr. Kinney said.
“We believe technology will help us reach the standards and the enforcement that we need. What I’ve been promised in the proposal is that I will have a dashboard and I can see, for example, there were four cars picked up at 200 block and four cars entered the garage,” Mr. Kinney said. “We’re doing a couple of different things in this contract to try and help with enforcement. We can put language in that contract that is a little more onerous than a $150 fine if you get caught. We’re requiring technology.”
Both Mr. Lago and Mr. Mena compared the future system in the central business district to Miami’s Design District, which has centralized valet and technology allows people to drop off and pick up their cars at different places and use an application to request that their car be ready and waiting at a certain location.
Switching to a centralized valet system has been a long time in the works. Since June 2006, there has been a centralized valet system exclusively on Miracle Mile operated by the Gables Business Improvement District.
Gables city staff has been analyzing the need for a centralized valet system in the central business district since 2014 and has made three separate presentations to the commission on the findings. Staff presented findings during commission meetings on July 11, 2017, Oct. 24, 2017, and Jan. 9, 2018.
The city requested proposals April 9. On May 15, five valet firms submitted proposals: American Parking Systems LLC, Commodore Parking, DEC Parking Way LLC, Park One of Florida LLC and Miami Parking Inc.
The entire evaluation committee ranked Park One first. DEC Parking was second and Commodore Parking third.
Lawyers for one valet company spoke out at the meeting in defense of their client, calling for a 30-day deferment to allow restaurant owners and valet vendors to meet with city staff.
“As you go to this centralized system and pick one vendor, who sounds great, remember that you are displacing existing businesses that have done business with the existing restaurants for years and years and sometimes decades,” said Paul Savage, representing VIP Parking Specialist. “This will lay all of those relationships asunder; they will put all of those businesses out.”