FORT WORTH (CBS11) – People in Fort Worth are finding that where they go out to dinner, may determine whether they have a ride home when they’re done.
The crowded parking situation in the city’s West 7th Street district, has turned into a towing situation.
A city task force is holding meetings about congestion in the area, but Vestar, the company that manages the Crockett Row development, has no plans to stop towing in the short term.
The parking policy changed in April for the five parking garages in the area. Parking is free for four hours but only for customers who go to one of the official partner businesses.
Parking attendants monitor where drivers go after parking, and can have their cars towed if they see the driver walk anywhere other than one of the official partners.
Kathleen Garza said it happened to her Saturday. She asked an attendant to clarify the parking policy signs, and said she was told she had four hours to make a trip to an approved business. She went to a bar first that wasn’t on the list, and less than an hour later her car was gone.
“It was embarrassing,” she said. “We had friends from out of town. Ruined our entire night.”
Garza’s Facebook post about the incident was shared thousands of times, and she realized quickly she wasn’t the only one who ended up on the wrong side of the new policy.
Max Holderby, the general manager for the development, says at most 15 cars a night are towed from the garages. It’s necessary though he said, to keep the garages from being overcrowded.
“We feel an obligation to our tenants and merchants to provide the parking that we agreed to provide for them,” Holderby said.
He cited a recent traffic study from a city task force meeting regularly now to address the congestion. He said it showed 50,000 cars travel through the area on a Saturday night. The garages he said, have just 1,500 spaces, and not enough to manage customers of bars that surround the development, but don’t have parking of their own.
Holderby explained he believes the best solution is to lease space to the south at a parking lot for the Fort Worth school district’s Farrington Stadium. A district spokesman confirmed there had been discussions about the idea, but that an agreement isn’t close.
City Councilwoman Ann Zadeh said the task force had also discussed traffic flow changes, and pedestrian-only streets among other options.
Holderby said he was not concerned the towing policy would discourage people from wanting to come to the area.
However, Garza said she was done with the area after her experience.
“I will not be coming back to this area, until they get that parking situation figured out,” she said.