Florida Department of Transportation in Broward County is responsible for the interstates and main artery roadways.
Hollywood, FL - Hollywood
March 30, 2011
Dear Mayor Bober and City Commissioners,
On March 12 I made the mistake and pulled into a parking space in front of Spice Restaurant, downtown Hollywood, at approximately 5:20 pm. I have not been downtown in a few months and did not realize that valet service began at 5 pm, nor did I see valet attendants in front redirecting patrons from the parking spots. Needless to say, at approximately, 7:00 pm I walked back to my car with my 5 year old daughter only to realize that my car must have been towed and couldn’t understand why?
Once I came to the realization, I asked the Vizcaya valet attendants (3 men in total) “what happened to the car parked….” and I pointed to the spot where I pulled in? Their answer to me was curt and brief “we towed it… read the sign.” That is when I realized my mistake and my car was indeed towed. I then asked them to give me the name of the towing company, again their response “read the sign” and then proceeded to point to all of the signs at the edge of the curb….none of which indicated the name and/or number of the towing company.
The 3 men began to laugh, feeding off of each in a taunting frenzy, talking in Spanish and telling me again to read the sign…I told them that “I will have to call the police and to please take into consideration that I am stranded with my 5 year old daughter”. They shrugged and said “go ahead, do you want me to call for you?” Then, one of them said I should walk behind the Suntrust Bank building, up the block and look up at the building for the sign with the name of the towing company and get the number.” Imagine that…He was directing me and my five year old, to a dark alley and willing to compromise my safety and the safety of my daughter. This is when I realized that I was being taken advantage of, intimidated, degraded, bullied, harassed and discriminated against.
I then approached two women working at the Spice Restaurant and asked them if they knew which towing company the valet service used? They looked at me with surprise, and said “the valet guys know the answer…they call the towing company all of the time and they should tell you.”
I then called the police at about 7:14 pm and spoke with a police dispatcher. They placed me on hold and then returned with the name of the towing company and telephone number. I called ALL-WAYS towing and they informed me that my car was just picked up at 7:00 pm., which would mean that the towing company picked up my car a few short minutes before I appeared. When I asked the cost, the towing company informed me it would cost me $100 and CASH ONLY, no other means of payment will be accepted, not even a debit card or credit card. However, please note that when I did pick up the car, their invoice allows for such options.
I walked across the street and asked another Vizcaya attendant the name of the owner or supervisor and told him the trauma I just experienced at the hands of his co-workers. He called his supervisor and about 10 minutes later the supervisor walked over to me and I told him the story. He did not seem fazed by the injustice I faced and his body language was indifferent and indignant. When I asked the names of the three attendants across the street, he feigned ignorance and said he did not know which men I was talking about. I told him it was hard to believe that a supervisor does not know which of his men are assigned to which valet station and I then took out the photo of the 3 men I took on my I-Phone and then all of sudden the names of the valet men came to him, except for one. When I asked for the owner’s name and number, he refused to give me the name and then gave me his contact information.
I left for a cruise the next day and returned on the March 19th. The very next day, on March 20th, I called the number the supervisor gave me at 4:45 pm. The supervisor, Ronald Villa answered and I gave my name and a recap of the incident. I asked to speak to the owner of Vizcaya Valet, he stated that the “owner was not available”. I asked “is there a direct number for the owner”? He said “no”. I asked him again, “what was the owner’s name and again he refused to give it to me”. I informed him that I will call back at 5:00 pm and wanted to speak to the owner directly and for him to get a hold of him. When I called back, the phone rang for 2 minutes and did not go to voicemail. It is March 30, 2011 and I have yet to hear back from Mr. Villa, the supervisor, or the owner of Vizcaya Valet.
I live in the City of Hollywood, and a former teacher at Hollywood Central Elementary and McArthur High School, currently at Stranahan HS as the State Reading Coach. I am a single parent with a young child that has been traumatized by three men that work for a valet company contracted by the City of Hollywood, and sub-contracted by the business owners of downtown Hollywood. I am not clear of the logistics, in terms of which valet companies are awarded city contracts to service the patrons visiting downtown Hollywood, but nevertheless, it is my hope that the City Mayor, Commissioners, City Attorney and Chief of Police, to name a few, have the safety of their citizens and patrons in mind when they do award such contracts.
Here are a few questions I would like you to address and provide follow-up documentation and/or evidence to ensure that your citizens are fully protected, that citizen safety is your main priority, and this incident is never to be repeated:
• What is the City of Hollywood’s policy and procedure regarding background checks before any valet and towing services are awarded contracts and sub-contracts?
• If any complaints have been filed against Vizcaya Valet and ALL WAYS towing company, and if so what were the findings and where there any citations?
• Is the City of Hollywood aware that towing companies directly contracted by the City or sub-contracted by City businesses, are extorting money from citizens and patrons, by demanding cash only or holding their car for ransom? And the invoice documentation indicates options for payment but yet not afforded at the time the car is in the towing company’s possession?
• Has ALL-WAYS towing company passed inspections with regards to their unpaved parking lot in which they drag and store the cars they tow to? (I have photos that show unpaved parking with bumps and grooves that can only damage a car). And if said company did pass such an inspection, how does the City of Hollywood justify this?
• When the patrons do go to pick up their cars, has the City of Hollywood implemented safety measures to ensure that said patrons’ safety is not compromised? Why are patrons subjected to picking-up their towed cars from a neighborhood home with bullet-proof glass and be traumatized by the event? Is this the image the City wants for their citizens and tourists? If so, where is the documentation indicating such verbiage, policy and procedure?
• I would like to know if said valet companies and towing companies are required to provide a copy of their Code of Ethics ensuring the dignity, respect and upmost safety of the people they serve and the City they represent?
• Are business owners who sub-contract valet and towing services held accountable for ensuring that said companies provide not only good service, but uphold a Code of Ethics?
• Why would the City agree to issue valet companies the right to reserve precious and limited downtown parking spaces so early in the afternoon? Whose best interests do you truly have in mind and serve?
• Why is one side of the street of Hollywood Blvd. between 19th and 20th have signs reading valet services begin at 5 pm and directly on the other side 6 pm? Why is there no consistency and as a by-product confuse patrons?
• Why was I allowed to pull into a valet spot (at 5:20 pm, copy of my meter ticket to document) if valet services begin at 5 pm? Why wasn’t the valet station set up for 5 pm as stated on the signs?
I do not feel safe to visit the downtown areas. I have been traumatized by my experience. I felt and continue to feel humiliated, intimidated, harassed, bullied, degraded and discriminated against, simply because I am a woman, a single mother and three men overpowered me by taunting me and withholding the name and number of the towing company, and in turn, directly compromised my ability to ensure my safety and the safety of my five year old daughter.
I believe that my constitutional rights were violated and compromised on many levels and it is my hope that the City of Hollywood investigates this matter with great urgency and seriousness.
Please note that my sister, Juleana Anagnostopolous, bears witness from the time she picked me up, with her two young boys, to retrieve my car from ALL-WAYs towing. In addition, we have photos, as evidence to support said concerns and assertions.
Please advise. I can be reached at 954-245-1085 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Dorina Popa Varsamis
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