Stricter Rules for Valet Operators

Valet parking operators are about to have a tougher time finding places and ways to park cars on Houston city streets. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, City Council responded to complaints from hundreds of residents that valet parking is clogging their neighborhoods.

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Up to now, valet operators outside the downtown Central Business District could park cars anywhere they wanted. They could place traffic cones in parking spaces and line residential streets with hundreds of vehicles. But not anymore. Houston Mayor Bill White says council enacted an ordinance that puts a stop to those practices.

"Look, I mean the streets aren't owned by the valets, they're owned by the public."

The new rules require operators to submit a plan for exactly where they'll park the cars and what streets they'll use to drive back and forth to that storage site. It also requires all valet drivers to have a valid Texas driver's license and prohibits them from setting out traffic cones to reserve space on the streets.

"We're both respecting the rights of businesses to have patrons, but also saying that the valets don't own the streets. There's got to be a traffic plan. They've got to be licensed so we know who people are. Consumers want to know if they hand their keys to somebody, there's some process by which to hold them accountable."

The ordinance also requires to city to revisit the rules in one year to see how they're affecting both the neighborhoods and the valet companies. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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