comscore Private parking companies can charge lot violation fees | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Private parking companies can charge lot violation fees

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Question: Is it legal for a private parking service to dispense parking tickets? I received a $40 ticket for parking longer than three hours at Windward City Shopping Center. The notice said that if the ticket wasn’t paid within 15 days, it would be referred to a collection agency. The signs do say three-hour parking, but there was adequate parking available.

Answer: Private entities can charge a fee for parking, which a ticket/fine would amount to.

"But, whether it’s towing or charging any kind of fee for parking, which this essentially is, has to be conspicuously disclosed," said Stephen Levins, executive director of the state Office of Consumer Protection.

Furthermore, "it has to be a reasonable fee," he said. "And, depending on the facts, if it constitutes a penalty, it could violate the consumer protection laws."

You provided us with photos showing a sign warning of possible towing and another sign disclosing "Parking Lot Terms and Conditions," including possible parking penalty fees and contact information.

Diamond Parking Services says the intent is not to punish legitimate customers.

"We were hired to ensure, for the tenants and customers of Windward City Shopping Center, (that people parking) are legitimately doing business at that center," a Diamond Parking spokesman said.

"We don’t stopwatch (parking) by any means," he said. The restrictions are "really to ensure that the lot is there for the customers who need parking."

He said there have been problems with noncustomers parking in the lot. He also explained that "we don’t issue tickets, but we do (issue) what’s called a parking penalty."

Unpaid fees are not sent to a collection agency. However, if you don’t pay, information about your vehicle is entered into a database, and if you are a frequent violator, "we do have the right to tow the car out of any of the Diamond lots," he said.

That all said, if you can show you were legitimately at the shopping center, "we’d be more than happy to speak to (you) and waive the penalty," as happened in your case.

Question: What ever happened to the food industry law that required the use of a hairnet for all personnel from cooks to the servers?

Answer: Hairnets may be required of certain workers.

The state Department of Health’s Hawaii Administrative Rules 11-12-30, dealing with the Food Service and Food Establishment Sanitation Code, says, "The director (of the Health Department) may require that food handling employees effectively restrain their head and facial hair to prevent the contamination of food or food contact surfaces."

"It is not mandatory in each and every situation," explained Sidney Doi, a program specialist with the Sanitation Branch. Individual inspectors use their professional judgment on a case-by-case basis to determine whether a hair restraint is necessary.

"A hairnet is not always required," Doi said, and "wearing a visor, a baseball cap or even simply braiding or tying one’s hair back might be deemed acceptable and an effective ‘restraint.’"

If you feel a food handler should be wearing a hair restraint, contact the Sanitation Branch: Oahu, 586-8000; Kauai, 241-3323; Maui, 984-8230; Hilo, 933-0917; and Kona, 322-1507.

Question: Do you know anywhere I can take my empty CD jewel cases to be recycled? I have more than 500.

Answer: We couldn’t find any recycling outlet for these cases. Any readers have suggestions?

Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail kokualine@staradvertiser.com.

 

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