ORANGE Drivers circling the Old Towne Orange plaza looking for parking could soon valet their vehicles.
The City Council on Tuesday is set to consider a three-month contract with a parking company to test the waters on whether valet service in the city’s popular downtown can be self-sustaining.
If approved, cars would be dropped off at 230 E. Chapman Ave., in front of the city’s Community Services building, three blocks from the plaza’s core. Valets would park cars in public lots on Almond Avenue and Grand Street and an employee parking lot at the Civic Center.
The service would be offered daily at peak times: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 11 p.m. Parking could cost $5 or $6 for each car, a city staff report said. Details are still being worked out.
Old Towne has flourished in the last 15 years, growing in popularity with new restaurants and eateries; but the district’s success has made parking a challenge.
A committee of merchants, property owners and city staffers have been meeting since February on solutions. The valet program is one of several suggestions, including a new parking structure on the district’s east end, metered parking and stepped-up enforcement of parking restrictions.
A $26.3 million parking structure serving the Metrolink Station and downtown businesses is expected to break ground on Lemon Street later this year.
As proposed, the valet service would cost the city $19,440 a month, though staff member expect the charge per car should cover the contract.
Window shopping through the Old Towne plaza Friday afternoon, Carol Sexton of Irvine and Paula Nelson of Tustin hunted for antiques.
“Even during the day, the only time you can get a spot in one of the parking lots is if you come up on a Saturday at 9 or 10 in the morning,” Sexton said. “Anything after that, there is no parking.”
“Today, it was a struggle,” Nelson said. “I think it’s just a lot busier than it used to be.”
Valet parking could mean more…