Dustan Goodell, president and CEO of Dallas-based Somerset Association Management, the company that runs Montgomery Plaza, said the actions over the weekend (“Wreckers Haul Away Dozens from Montgomery Plaza,” Blotch, Monday, Jan. 16) “obviously weren’t the results we were looking for.”
The plaza will take a different approach with future violators, Goodell said, understanding that West 7th Street visitors have been parking in Montgomery Plaza’s lot for “some time now” –– the plaza has been open since the mid-’00s.
“We don’t want to be the bad guy on the block,” Goodell said.
Instead of quickly hauling away violators, Goodell said, a spotter will patrol the area in question –– about 100 spots on the west and southwest sides of the plaza –– and warn parked drivers not intending on patronizing Montgomery Plaza establishments to either move or risk being towed. The spotter will also place warning fliers on the windshields of illegally parked vehicles whose owners can’t be located.
“We will educate and inform before we enforce,” Goodell said.
Goodell has hired a new towing company. His decision echoes the sentiment of Officer Ken Jacobs, the neighborhood police officer, who said the actions of last weekend’s towing company –– at least one wrecker used a Slim Jim to break into a vehicle to release its parking break –– were “totally inappropriate.”
Goodell said complaints from Montgomery Plaza customers about a lack of parking in the plaza inspired the decision to enforce parking restrictions.
Several weeks ago, Goodell said, Officer Jacobs went door to door, informing local business owners of Montgomery Plaza’s intentions.
West 7th business owners argue that only one plaza-located business, BoomerJack’s Grill & Bar, is open late, at a time when business in the West 7th corridor begins picking up.
Goodell understands the argument. However, he said, “Like anything in life, you have to be consistent. If I’m driving down the freeway, and there’s nobody around me, is it OK for me to go 80 miles an hour? It’s not. You’ve got to be consistent in enforcing policies.”
The West 7th corridor is zoned MU-2, which, among other things, means that businesses do not have to provide minimum numbers of parking spaces. The goal of the ordinance is to increase foot-traffic and decrease surface-parking costs.
As a result, parking has become a bloodsport in the area.
The ordinance, said Jimmy Moore, owner of the nearby 7th Haven, “looks good on paper and may play out in the long run but clearly is not working now.”
In response to the towing sting last weekend, the 7th Street Business Association issued a statement, at one point saying, “We respect property owners’ rights to protect their tenants and provide parking, but we ask that policies be reviewed and agreements with towing companies be modified so that visitors’ cars are not damaged. We also ask that a warning system be implemented and towing be a last resort.”
Goodell hasn’t been contacted by the association but said he is open to discussion. “We really are going to work with everybody,” he said, “and it’s probably going to take a month to reeducate everybody.”