Parking Wars at Hotel Californian
By Anna Marie Gott
An open letter to the City Council of Santa Barbara:
The Hotel Californian would not have been approved if it had not agreed to build the public parking structure at E Mason and Helena and then permit the general public to park in it under the same terms as the City's own public parking lots. Unfortunately, despite a legal requirement to do so and a year of reports, the Hotel Californian is still blocking the general public from parking in the parking structure to ensure its guests and visitors have preferential access to parking.
My question for the Council:
When will the Council say enough is enough and direct the City Attorney to take meaningful action that would ensure the Hotel Californian is prevented from excluding the general public from the public parking structure in favor of their guests and visitors to their hotel?
I first reported problems with the parking structure last summer and numerous times since. Nothing has changed.
How do I know? July 6th I watched drivers being flagged down by two valets. Drivers were told there was no available parking in the parking structure but they could "wait."
The effect of making drivers “wait” ensured that some drivers would leave immediately which other others “waited” or left after “waiting” and being denied access. All while there were EMPTY parking spaces in the parking structure.
Interestingly the sign read: OPEN.
I walked over to the entrance of the parking structure to see if it was full or if there were empty spaces. Besides the empty handicaps spaces there were parking spaces available. (I took photos of the empty spaces.)
As I exited the parking structure a vehicle was "waiting" at the gate. The driver said the valet told him the parking lot was “full.” I told the couple about the free spaces I saw and what the hotel had done in the past. I asked the driver to call the attendant and told him what to say to get in.
The driver never got the chance to call the attendant at the Hotel Californian. One of the two valets "manning" the entrance of the parking structure to tell drivers to "wait" walked over.
The valet explained that the Hotel Californian's parking structure was installed with an electric gate system that could NOT determine when the parking lot is full, or not, based on the number of vehicles that entered or exited. This left it necessary for the valets to stand at the entrance and tell drivers the lot was “full” and they "wait" in line to get in.
When I said there were open spaces the valet said they must have lost count because they were “busy.”
The driver permitted entrance.
The excuse given was certainly inventive, but it was simply a new excuse to go with the others the Hotel Californian valets and management have used when they’ve gotten caught "red handed" preventing the general public from parking in the parking structure.
The Hotel Californian has a long list of things it does to prevent the general public from accessing the public parking structure. They include:
Rigging the touch screens to say the parking structure was for guests of Hotel Californian only,
The touch screen fails to work until a valet comes to help and taps the same button you just tapped to get a ticket,
The credit card machine won’t accept your credit card,
Why is a credit card required to enter the parking structure?
Call attendants tell drivers the parking structure is only for guests and visitors of the Hotel Californian,
Valets standing at the entrance saying the "Open" sign was broken and the lot was “Full,”
Valets and management saying the equipment was malfunctioning,
“Lot Full” signs placed at the entrance to the parking structure,
Cones placed at the entrance to block drivers from waiting to get into the parking structure.
Is the City Council done letting the Hotel Californian play its “parking games?” If the answer is "yes" please direct the City Attorney to take any legal action necessary to stop the Hotel Californian from preventing the general public from parking in the public parking structure when there are empty parking spaces inside.
If you want to weigh in on this issue email the City Council at SBCityCouncil@SantaBarbaraCA.
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