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Stupid Is as Las Vegas Does

Want to attract business to downtown Las Vegas, especially to the older, run-down section know as East Fremont Street? Here’s a tip: STOP SCREWING PEOPLE who come downtown to patronize downtown businesses!

So I go downtown to see my attorney this morning after doing KNPR’s “State of Nevada” program…and we decide to go grab lunch. He suggests Mamita’s Mexican-Cuban restaurant on East Fremont Street.

Behind the restaurant is a nearly empty parking lot with a sign at the entrance that says it’s the parking lot for Mamita’s. And I pull into a parking slot with signs reading “Mamita’s Parking Only” on the fence in front of the parking slot.

My friend and I had a good lunch and good conversation for about 45 minutes, paid the bill and headed out to the parking lot so I could get him back to his office in time to get to a court appearance.

Only….when we approached the car we noticed that there was a bright orange flyer under my windshield wipers, a bright orange sticker taped to my driver’s side window, and a freaking bright orange “boot” on both my front and rear tires!

I read the bright orange sticker on the window and learned that “This Vehicle Has Been Booted: Do Not Attempt to Drive Your Vehicle.” I also discovered that I was getting hit with a $150 “Booting Fine.”

The sticker further explained that my car had “been booted by Las Vegas Parking Enforcement for…the following reasons.” The two reasons cited by the enforcement officer, J. Mason, were “Vehicle not authorized on property” and “Other: Not inside Mamitas.”

Of course, that’s complete bull(expletive)…and I have the credit card receipt, the waiter, the busboy and the manager all as witnesses to the fact that I was, indeed, inside Mamitas.

So my friend and I go back into the restaurant and have them call Las Vegas Parking Enforcement to send “whoever” over to take the damn boot off my car so I can get my friend to court on time. Ten minutes later Mr. Meter Maid Mason shows up and proceeds to tell us he went into Mamita’s and asked if anyone in the restaurant belonged to my car.

Of course, that’s complete bull(expletive). My friend and I were in the restaurant the ENTIRE time – didn’t even get up to use the restroom – and no one came in and asked us if my car was parked in the parking lot. Don’t know if this is a scam or not….but it sure stinks.

And by the way, why is the City of Las Vegas enforcing parking restrictions in a private parking lot in the first place? If Mamita’s wanted a car towed because it was illegally parked in one of their spots, they should call a private towing company to come deal with the situation. Why are tax dollars being used to fund parking enforcement for a private business?

And if it’s a public parking lot, why is Mamita’s sign up at the entrance and only Mamita’s customers are allowed to park in certain designated spots?

But even that goes beyond the stupidity of the city of Las Vegas acting like “parking Nazis” – including the forest of parking meters throughout the area – when all the politicians and candidates are saying that downtown redevelopment, ESPECIALLY in the East Fremont area, is a top priority.

If I go ANYWHERE on the Strip, there’s “free parking” out the wazoo. But on East Fremont Street, you can’t even park in a freaking private parking lot without getting nailed by the city of Las Vegas. I can tell you one thing; I won’t be going back to Mamita’s again. Or anywhere else on East Fremont Street.

Heckuva job, Las Vegas.

UPDATE (March 18, 2011): Some readers have weighed in on this matter advising that the parking enforcement problem in this particular incident has nothing to do with the city of Las Vegas. Apparently we’re dealing with a private company giving the illusion of government authority which has been hired by local businesses and merchants.

How a private company get the authority to detain and essentially confiscate someone’s automobile and extort $150 “fines” out of people without some kind of due process still escapes me. That said, the company was apparently under contract with the restaurant, which still means I ain’t eating there ever again.

Heckuva job, Mamita’s.