SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- Santa Clara County government workers have a nice new perk in San Jose: free valet parking at the county government center.
The parking service at the county lot on West Hedding and North First Streets may be the first and only free valet service available for government workers anywhere in the Bay Area.
It looks like what you might find at a fancy restaurant or star-studded party. People drive up, hand off their keys to the valet and off they go.
"I never got good service like this," said Phuong Nguyen, who has worked for the county for 30 years. "Now I'm going to retire but I'm happy for the employees who still work for the county.
The county is offering the service for the next two to four years at a total cost of 4.5 million dollars. The reason is because county has a severe shortage of parking spaces due to a surging employee headcount.
In addition the parking shortage was about to get even worse with the loss of spaces during the demolition and construction of new county facilities which has already begun.
Other options such as building new parking garages or running shuttles from other existing lots would be more expensive, according to industry experts.
Valets can also double park and pack more cars in to the existing lot. Local residents will be happy to learn the service is not just for employees. Visitors to the county center can also use the service.
"Last year I was here. I was looking for a parking space for like half an hour," said Reza Mostadam, who comes to the county center once a year when his property taxes are due on December 10th.
He said this year was a breeze. This reporter told him part of his taxes were paying for the valet service.
"Oh wow, at least I know where it is going now. It's ok, it's perfect," he said.
The contractor hired to park cars is reportedly paying its valets $29 an hour to comply with the county's living wage ordinance. Signs are posted discouraging tipping.
Reena Karvande says she usually has to park in the nearby neighborhood.
"I have to come out and move it every two hours or else I will get a ticket," she said. "This service is really helpful."
Before she drove away, Karvande said it may sound like a perk, but employees end up wasting less time in the parking lot and spending more time on the job.
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