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Mandatory Complimentary Valet

When I lived in Dallas in 2008, there were a lot of aspects of life in the Lone Star State that contributed to my 'culture shock'. One thing I noticed right away that seemed out-of-place was the prevalence of mandatory complimentary valet at various restaurants and bars in the city.

(from Flickr user hellomarkc)

Growing up in Ohio, I was led to believe that valet parking is a luxury that only rich people use because they can afford to have someone else do the chore of parking their car. The "working man", on the other hand, parked his own vehicle and walked. I'd never encountered a complimentary valet, let alone one that was also mandatory. I thought it seemed pretty silly and unnecessary.

Since moving back, I've done a lot of writing about urban issues, including parking, on this blog. Mandatory complimentary valet now seems a lot less absurd if the alternative is an ocean of self-parking surrounding every place of business. A system of mandatory valet guarantees a space to park for people who wants to drive, solving the "people won't go there if there isn't a enough parking" dilemma; at the same time, it doesn't require completely mutilating the build environment to accommodate those cars.

The biggest hurdle, I think, is the cultural one. There are still a lot of places where the concept of a complimentary valet would seem foreign and weird.


B. P. Beckley said…
There's another cadre of people (in Ohio and out) who consider valet parking to be a sign of fat cats who think they deserve to have servants, and/or rich suburbanites who only come into the city to play and ignore the city, its inhabitants, and its problems all of the rest of the time. In fact, I think your post is the first time I'm every really heard an urbanist say positive things about valet parking ... usually, it seems to be considered a salvo in some kind of class war.

Personally, I make use of it when it suits me. Free valet parking is practically a no brainer for me unless I can actually see where they park the cars from the valet stand.
Rob Pitingolo said…
I have a hard time seeing this considered class warfare if there is no discrepancy in price between valet and self-park.

But I understand where you're coming from, BP. Look at Legacy Village. I believe the valet parking there is $5, and the slap in the face is that the attendants park those vehicles closer to the shops and restaurants than most of the "free spaces".

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