BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
The town is expected to create a valet parking ordinance in order to govern the practice that is currently unregulated, but being used by some restaurants. Currently, business owners who wish to implement valet parking for their customers rent meters to create valet parking zones. Businesses can apply to the parking authority to pay to have a meter bagged for the day, setting aside the parking spot for loading and unloading for their use only.
Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renée Baskerville has been concerned with the use of valet parking, pointing to three restaurants on Glenridge Avenue as examples. Restaurants there offering valet parking include Fin Raw Bar & Kitchen at 183 Glenridge Ave., the Crosby at 193 Glenridge Ave. and Saluté Brick Oven Bistro at 173 Glenridge Ave. All three are owned by restaurateurs Gerry Cerrigone and Robert Gaccione.
When the planning board gave approval in 2015 for the restaurateur to expand into a neighboring building creating The Crosby, it came with a condition to hire a valet parking company and maintain at least 76 spaces for its valet company’s use, according to the planning board resolution. The cars are valeted to two private parking lots near the restaurants.
Forest Street resident Michael Graley told the council at a recent meeting that he was a “fan” of the valet parking because it cuts down traffic and illegal parking. He contends two safety issues need addressing with the valet parking on Glenridge Avenue, however.
“Every single car going northeast [toward Bloomfield Avenue] has to cross the double yellow line to get around the stanchions,” he said.
The two bagged spots are not used for loading and unloading, he asserted, contending the valets use the area on the corner instead.
“Cars are parked into the pedestrian crosswalk. It also poses a problem for those turning left onto Glenridge from Forest,” he said. “It’s just not safe.”
Those seeking to use metered spots for valet parking or other purposes pay the parking utility the full price of using the spot for a day – $20. There are no limitations set for allowance, time or days of the week, number of days, number of occurrences, or locations, said Montclair Communication Director Katya Wowk. All applications to “bag a meter” are processed through the parking utility and most are granted, there is no approval process, said Wowk.
“The parking utility doesn’t offer a valet parking permit. If someone wants to pay for a spot for the day, the cost is $20,” she said.
According to parking utility officials, Saluté purchases two spaces for valet use on Friday and Saturday, while the Crosby purchases two spaces, which they share with Fin, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. At $20 per meter per day, that’s $10,400 a year.
Attorney Ira Karasick said he has modeled the ordinance after Ridgewood’s ordinance regulating valet parking and day-long parking space use.
Ridgewood allows for valet parking, but regulates it mainly to loading zones and within the hours of 5 p.m. and 3 a.m. Permits are $500 for a half year and $1,000 a year, plus a fee for bagging the meter if applicable.
It is not clear if Montclair will charge a permit fee on top of a meter fee. The ordinance is expected to be introduced at the Aug. 20 council meeting.