This September, the owner of the Bank of America building and parking lot on Kentucky began towing cars that were parked there after hours. Broken bottles and trash were strewn all over the lot, and partygoers would often vomit or even sleep in their cars, creating a liability, said Elias Husary.
But the change has angered many residents who say Husary hasn’t done enough to prevent cars from being towed.
“If the owner doesn't want anyone in the lot at night, why doesn't he put a chain across the entrance?” said Lorrie Notter, whose son’s car was recently towed as he was playing a gig at the and cost $250 to recover. “This situation does not reflect well on Bank of America and it sure doesn't promote doing business in downtown Petaluma.”
Notter said when she called the Petaluma Police Department about the missing car, she was told that an average of 15 vehicles a night are towed from the location.
That’s news to Husary, who said he was surprised to learn that the number was so high. However, he said he couldn’t chain off the lot because it had to remain accessible to people using the bank’s ATM machine as well as employees, like janitorial staff, that needed to access the building at night.
“There are six signs around the parking lot with reflectors on them so that they are more noticeable,” Husary said, adding that it costs him more than $1,000 a month to insure and maintain the lot. “I don’t know what more I can do.”
Husary, who owns properties around Petaluma, said he had initially offered monthly parking permits, but couldn’t garner enough interest. “Some people emailed me wanting a partial permit, but it wasn’t feasible.”
He then contacted Petaluma Downtown Association for help, floating a plan to get neighborhood merchants to pay a small fee to make the lot accessible to the public. But the PDA said the plan wouldn’t get the support of local businesses, especially in these tough economic times. Now Husary says he’s looking into purchasing an automated parking meter where people would be able to pay for a spot with a swipe of a credit card.
“I feel bad that people are being towed,” Husary said. “But we’re looking for a better solution.”
Do you think the BofA lot on Kentucky and Petaluma Boulevard North should become a paid one? Should the city build another free lot? Sound off in the comments below.