As some of you know, the Lauriol Plaza valet parking situation can range from being a nuisance to being a safety hazard. When traffic backs up and blocks the intersection, emergency vehicles cannot pass.
Before the 18th Street reconstruction began in 2010, I hosted a meeting with Lauriol Plaza management, DDOT Public Space officials, and MPD. The valet situation had already been somewhat problematic, but the new project added the pedestrian “bulbout” to the corner, making it even easier for cars waiting for valet to block the intersection. The group agreed at that discussion to see how things developed after the bulbout was installed. Arguably, things are worse now.
Lauriol Plaza has had valet parking since before the recent valet parking regulations went into effect, but they are not grandfathered. The new regulations require a valet parking permit from DDOT Public Space, if any public space is used in staging. Lauriol uses public space both in the driveway curtain and on T Street between the corner and the parking lot. This is not legal without a valid permit.
Lauriol Plaza recently engaged an off-duty police officer to assist the valets in moving traffic along during peak hours. I also spoke with Deputy Chief Groomes, who informed both the off-duty police staff and the regular MPD detail for our area (PSA 301) that Lauriol Plaza has unpermitted valet, so the off-duty officer now is working to prevent cars from idling or staging anywhere in public space. DDOT has also been notified by both me and by Chief Groomes, and they committed to send investigators who can issue fines if violations are found.
In the long term, I think that a validly permitted staging area on 18th Street, in front of the restaurant close to the Swann alley, would be the best system. Lauriol has too much volume and too many patrons to avoid using any public space at all. It’s not realistic to make them only use their small lot. Hopefully, with this added pressure from DDOT and MPD, we can discuss this 18th Street option with Lauriol Plaza management.
We are not excited about your proposal on using the area near the Swann Street alley as a valet staging area. As residents of the block, our access to the alley is often blocked by cars, taxis, and patrons using the area for smoking, drinking and socializing. It should not be consistent with the existing regulations and our rights as residents to officially hand our access to the alley over to a private business. Please find a different solution.
When it comes to Lauriol Plaza, valet parking to me is the least of the issues. Diners parking in our building’s private parking spaces, loitering in front of the restaurant after a dozen margaritas, drunken screams from the upper deck (that are no doubt way above the permitted decibel level), diners remaining and continuing to drink on the lower deck even after the legally permitted 11:00 p.m. curfew on week days… Add this the fact that the restaurant management is completely dismissive of the neighborhood complaints. I am a new house owner on the street and seriously wonder how Lauriol Plaza can maintain an alcohol license, especially given that DC Law says every resident has a right to peace and quiet after 9:00 p.m.. I’d very much like your comments regarding this.
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