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South End, Back Bay: Honk If You Hate Valet Parkers

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They terrorize the South End and Back Bay and other enclaves, especially on the weekends, disturbing the peace and tarnishing the quality of life that makes these areas oh-so-much-more than Starter Neighborhoods. The city tries to stop them, but it can't. Or it won't. Or it gets confused, you know how that goes. They are valet parkers outside trendy restaurants. Per The Globe this morning:

[Valet parkers] pay little heed to the requirement that arriving cars be quickly moved to garages or lots. They routinely ignore regulations that forbid double parking and taking up metered spaces. Some grab resident parking spots and even handicapped parking to squirrel away cars belonging to diners. Such violations make it even more difficult for local residents to negotiate already congested streets and park their cars. And if the city does step in? Well... the penalties run from light to laughable—one South End bistro, Petit Robert, was made to turn off its TV for two nights; and it wasn't even that big a TV, just 30 inches.

Three things appear to impede any impactful crackdown. First, the city wants to punish the valet companies, not the restaurants; but it knows that any punishment, however light, usually falls on the restaurant and that the valet companies will just get around things with temporary permits or other clients. Second, restaurant and valet operators are regular campaign contributors to Hizzoner, Tom Menino. And, third, no one's quite sure who's sheriff of this thing:

Three agencies have at least some jurisdiction over valet parking, but no one embraces it. [Thomas] Tinlin’s Transportation Department created the regulations, oversees licensing, and has the power to suspend or revoke the licenses. But Daniel R. Nuzzo, the Transportation Department official who oversees valet licensing, said that when he is alerted to violations, he prefers to call restaurant owners and scold them politely and privately, which means there are no records.

That leaves [Patricia] Malone’s [Consumer Affairs] office and the Boston Licensing Board. Malone’s power is limited to regulating behavior at establishments that hold entertainment licenses, which are important mainly to nightclubs. Shutting off the television at Petit Robert was about all she could do.

So? So buttons. The situation remains a big, honking mess for the South End and Back Bay especially. For the parkers and the restaurants, not so much.

“For two nights, we couldn’t laugh with the customers,’’ an owner of Petit Robert told The Globe. He quickly added: “We were not trying to make fun of the city’s decision. We were just trying to look on the bright side.’’

Right-o.

· Valet Parking Violations Punished Lightly, If At All [Globe]
· Boston's Top 5 Starter Neighborhoods [Curbed Boston]