More DC Taxes on Restaurants

So what new DC tax allows the government to scrape a little more success off the top of the restaurant industry? A valet parking permit.

The cost is $50 to file for the permit ($50 annual renewal) and then the city charges restaurants .50 cents per 20 feet curbside per hour the restaurant uses for valet parking. Doesn't sound like much, right?

But there may be additional fees associated with the permit based on the restaurants location - say - a restaurant has parking meters along the area where the valet is and therefore the restaurant will have to pay for the loss of parking meter income the city could have received along the valet permit area. This is weird, because many restaurants have public parking in front of their location and you just pull up, double-park and they come and take the car away right? No more. I assume this means that the city will actually take away those parking spots in the front of the restaurant and put up signs saying 'valet parking permit area only'. Oh, and the restaurant will have to pay for the cost, installation and upkeep of those signs in front of their restaurant.

Or lets say there is a bus stop in front of the restaurant, where the valet permit is issued and buses may be re-directed to another stop during the permitted valet hours. I am not in favor of more government fees, but if you have ever tried to valet at Zengo, during the dinner rush, where there is a bus stop and no curb access, you know my pain.

But are all valet locations really that valuable to the DC government? I mean, how much could the government make at a valet style restaurant?

Case in point.....I received an email from PS7 stating that because of this law, they would no longer offer valet service. This email is what got me interested in this new DC government permit and sought me to investigate and run the numbers. So here they are, generally thinking (because I am just guessing the numbers from experience, I have no idea who or how PS7 does its books) about what would effect PS7 over the course of 1 year:
  • $50: valet parking application fee (must be annually renewed)
  • $0: additional bus re-routing during valet permit hours (there is no bus stop in front of the restaurant so this doesn't apply);
  • $500: cost of new signage at valet location (I really have no idea how much this costs, but we are talking about DC city government, so whatever number you are thinking would be reasonable, times that by 10)
  • $5616: parking meter loss of income to the DC government: $18 (based on 2 parking meters in front of the restaurant, charging $2/hour for the 4.5 hours the city loses on the 2 meters)/6 days a week (the city doesn't charge on Sundays)/52 weeks a year (if the restaurant was open all year long)
  • $1274: the city charges .50 cents per 20 feet per hour of valet usage so thats ($3.50/7 hours (if PS7 offered valet from 5pm to 11pm)/7 days a week (if they where open 7 days a week)$24.50/52 weeks a year
  • Therefore the total cost to be in regulation is: $7440
So technically, the costs associated in providing valet service at PS7 would be an additional $20 per day (in the first year alone).

But how does this compare to what they are already spending on valet parking?
  • cost: $100,000/year - if they hired the nicest valet service in DC
  • cost: $16,400/year - if they only had 20 diners per day (this is a low estimate), 7 days a week, utilize their valet service. They may charge you $8 to park your car, but it only costs them $5 to park it in the garage (this is a high estimate, because restaurants usually get quite a deal on contract parking in garages)
So this is about an increase of 6.4% in costs associated in providing valet service at PS7. Now that is quite a tax hike!

And if the restaurant is only making $12/diner (based on the cost of 30/30/30 - 3 course menu - where the menu price is broken into thirds, where 1/3 goes to paying for the food, 1/3 goes toward paying for the staff, electricity, etc. and 1/3 is profit) that means that the restaurant now 'forks' over the profit from 1.5 diners a day to the DC government - just for offering valet parking between 5pm and 11pm 6 nights a week.

So by not offering valet service or even discounted garage parking, the restaurant has taken the costs associated with valet parking ($318/day) off their books completely.

Although I adore valet parking, but I praise the restaurant for watching their bottom line and not giving the DC government another outlet to overcharge the restaurant industry. I just hope that this new taxing idea doesn't spread to VA or MD. And I hope that restaurant patrons won't mind circling PS7 block for parking.

If you are interested in reading the regulation go here

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