Over the last year, the city has worked with restaurant, bar, and club owners and managers to help control and minimize nighttime violence. These discussions, combined with stricter enforcement of noise and loitering ordinances, a more visible police patrol presence, and awareness campaigns, have resulted in safer venues in our entertainment neighborhoods. One concern raised by some businesses was their relative helplessness over the security in nearby privately-owned parking lots. In some cases, the unsupervised lots, out of sight of the security in the venues' own lots, were scenes of trouble; in other cases, cars of patrons parked in the lots for hours were damaged. Neither managers nor police officers could be everywhere.
A rash of car cloutings downtown this weekend by an organized group looking for guns stored in cars, was the frustrating last straw.
This week, the City Counselor is drafting a rule to be issued next week by the Building Commissioner to require parking lots to provide attendants. The rule will become effective 30 days after it is issued. The rule will also require parking lots to be restricted when they are not in operation. Starting with the 4th police district, but eventually moving to other entertainment neighborhoods (including the Grove and S. Grand), police officers will meet with parking lot attendants and employees to train them on how to spot and report potential trouble. The Problem Properties Team will meet with the individual owners of 100 parking lots to address specific nuisance issues on their properties. Failure to follow the new rules could result in the City shutting down a parking lot.
When we first began discussing these rules several months ago, parking lot owners protested that their businesses would be hurt by the expense of adding fences, attendants, and lighting. And some parkers complained that the increased costs of keeping lots secure would inevitably increase the cost of off-street parking. We slowed the process down to see if voluntary action would be sufficient. It was not.
Everyone's business is hurt if a visitor cannot park a car in a lot for three hours and come back to find its windows intact. And there do exist alternatives to driving places one or two to a car ' or to driving at all.
Let's see how this works out.