Retailers and restaurant owners at the Westfield Valley Fair mall are circulating a petition against a new paid parking policy.
The malls parking program, scheduled to begin Feb. 8, would charge people who work at Valley Fair $40 a month or $3 a day, which adds up for those earning minimum wage. One petition has already garnered more than 1,000 likes on Instagram and 364 signatures in a live document.
In the petition, the workers said it’s unreasonable and unsafe to expect them to leave campus where parking is free or end up with a big dent in their income from using their car to get to work. The shopping center has 8,400 parking spaces.
“To ensure a safe workplace, we require that you provide free parking permits to all levels of mall employees,” the petition said.
According to a statement from Westfield Valley Fair, located at 2855 Stevens Creek Blvd. in Santa Clara, the controlled parking plan was created to ensure “customers have the convenient access to parking they deserve.”
Westfield Valley Fair management told San Josè Spotlight that the new controlled parking plan is part of a broader security measure to prevent people from leaving their cars in the mall. Mall operators said the spaces are taken by people who park at Valley Fair and work elsewhere. They also claim that people are using the mall’s parking lot to avoid long-term parking fees when traveling out of Mineta San Jose International Airport.
Petitioner Antonio Garcia, a supervisor at the Diesel clothing store, said the parking pass would net property owners about $51,000 per month from employees, according to industry analyst IBIS World’s estimate. six employees per store.
“These parking fees are not about regaining control of parking,” Garcia wrote. “Employee-paid parking passes are the result of mall management’s greed.”
The petition threatens its supporters to vote against the mall on social media sites like Yelp beginning February 15 if its demand is not met.
Store owners and managers learned details of the planned parking program during a Westfield Webex meeting on Jan. 18.
In complete disbelief, followed by anger, Garcia distributed a paper petition to stores in the mall that same day and posted a live petition on Instagram two days later.
“For the mall to say it’s up to them or us to pay is not right,” Garcia told San Josè Spotlight, referring to employers and employees who have to pay parking fees.
Garcia said mall representatives suggested rideshares or public transportation for those who didn’t want to pay for a parking pass, but this increases COVID exposure and additional expenses for employees who work at the mall.
Viet Ngo, owner of the Vietnamese restaurant Vietnoms, objected to Westfield’s lack of conversation with tenants. He said that many previously submitted questions, including his own, were not addressed during the online meeting and the chat function was disabled. To express their feelings, viewers used the thumbs down and crying face gestures.
Ngo said it is “deeply insulting” to expect those who work during the pandemic and generate income for the mall to have to pay for parking and that the mall could have offered at least a couple of free parking passes per store.
“It’s not a fair policy,” he told San Josè Spotlight. “It’s not helping tenants or customers.”
Ngo said he will pay parking costs for his full-time employees, but he can’t pay all of his part-time workers. He said the extra expense would be difficult for small mom-and-pop stores and doubts larger stores with many employees will pay as well.
Although Ngo could see customers paying to park, he doesn’t think minimum wage workers should have to, especially when the mall isn’t very busy and there are plenty of parking spaces available.
According to Westfield Company research, about 80% of customer visits last less than two hours. After the two hours of free parking, guests will be charged $1 per hour with a maximum daily rate of $10. Cinema customers will receive a validation for four hours of parking.
Ngo said he wouldn’t advise his employees to park on Santana Row as he doesn’t want to clog his parking lot and heard he might add his own paid parking program.
He worries that the cost of parking could drive employees to leave. A part-time employee asked him about transferring to the central Vietnoms location.
Garcia said he will definitely lose employees due to parking fees. He is still waiting to hear from Westfield management about the petition. He hopes that management will change its position and make parking free for all employees. He is grateful and proud of everyone who signed the petition.
“It’s amazing to see people stand up and come together,” he said.
Contact Lorraine Gabbert in [correo electrónico protegido]