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Friday, October 3, 2014

Chicago Valet Parking Attendants using Disabled Parking

great reporting by Pam Zekman for CBS2 Chicago '2 Investigators' | Oct 2, 2014

(CBS) – When you give a valet your keys, do you have any idea where they are parking your car? If it’s in a handicap spot in a parking garage, you could end up with tickets and fines.

Now, as a result of a CBS 2 investigation, the city is cracking down on abuses like those that frustrated Judy Heyworth.

“I’m not asking for anything special, I just want a simple accommodation that isn’t a convenience — it’s an absolute necessity,” she says.

Heyworth has multiple Sclerosis and uses her adaptive van to travel downtown to shop and socialize, but finding a parking spot can be a challenge. She has to find a handicapped parking spot adjacent to a striped access space. She needs the extra room to deploy her van’s wheelchair ramp.

The striped areas are plentiful in most parking garages, but at one River North parking garage the striped access lanes are often taken by valet parking attendants.

It’s a practice that Heyworth has often documented with her camera. She sent numerous photos to the 2 Investigators.

“I mean, I’ve ended up being there until 11:30, quarter to twelve at night and I’m exhausted for a day or two afterwards,” Heyworth says about the times she has been unable to get into her van.

On three separate occasions, the 2 Investigators found cars at the North Bridge Interpark garage on Grand Avenue parked in access spaces or handicapped spots.

After witnessing a Pinnacle valet parking attendant parking in a striped spot, the 2 Investigators followed him back to where he works — a restaurant called Cantina Laredo.

When the Pinnacle valet attendant came back to the garage he parked a car in a handicap spot.

When asked why he was parking there, he said he was busy. When pressed on the matter, he said he didn’t check the spot before parking. The Pinnacle attendant then moved the car from the handicap spot into a regular parking spot and drove off in another illegally parked vehicle.

Back at Cantina Laredo, the valet refused to answer questions as to why he had been parking cars in handicap spots.

“This should not be happening — its infuriating,” says Maria Guerra Lapacek, Chicago Commissioner of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Lapacek pledged to crack down on such violations.

“We’re going to admonish them. We’re going to issue enforcement, and we’re going to prosecute. This is a serious violation,” she says.

City officials are also sending warnings to all valets and parking garages.

Both Pinnacle and Cantina Laredo say it’s not their policy to allow parking in handicap spots. The manager of the North Bridge Interpark garage said that staff calls police when it receives complaints about cars illegally parked in handicapped spots.

If you see this happening, it’s essential that you complain to the parking garage so they can call police and then report violations to the city.

To report a violation electronically click here.


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