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Parking lots should have attendants during big events, council committee says

The parking lot owners though, aren't so sure. They are concerned that attendants could be targeted by criminals.

NEW ORLEANS — Parking lot owners might have to start hiring live attendants during special events like Saints or Pelicans games. A city council committee moved an ordinance forward Wednesday.

Sunday, Saints fans left the Superdome already disappointed after a tough end to the season only to find their car windows smashed in. Dozens of cars were burglarized including inside a garage where a security guard was on duty. He alerted police who arrested three young men.

"They went into a parking lot with an attendant who called police. That's how they were caught," said City Council President JP Morrell.

That's why the New Orleans City Council Community Development Committee approved an ordinance Wednesday that would require private parking lots to hire live attendants during special events in the CBD or French Quarter like Saints games, concerts, and any event with at least 10,000 people.

"The attendants would act as a deterrent for criminal conduct and make regular patrols to address issues," said councilmember Freddie King.

It would apply to lots within a ten block radius of the Superdome or Smoothie King Center and five blocks from the Saenger Theater and Mardi Gras parade routes. Parking lots for cruises would need an attendant during the entire trip.

"Just as we can’t expect every private business in town to provide its own security presence or homeowner to stand guard over their individual driveway, parking lot owners should not be expected to cure a systemic and societal issue of crime," said Ryan Berger who owns seven parking lots in the French Quarter. "The vast majority of vehicle break-ins in the city occur in public parking spaces on city streets and I just wonder... is the city going to have the same obligation under this ordinance?"

The ordinance only applies to privately owned lots. Parking lot owners argue it would put attendants in a dangerous position.

"We've had parking attendants chased off lots by people with guns," said Herb Anderson with 'GoPark.'

Glen Armantrout is with Premium Parking. It was in his garage where a security guard's call Sunday led to the arrests.

"It was not a parking lot attendant, it was an armed security guard in there. Two days prior to that, that same security guard was chased out the garage by five armed assailants," Armantrout said.

With 5 Yays and 0 Nays, the ordinance moves forward.

"Everyone has to pay their fair share to make the city safe," Morrell said.

It heads to the full city council for consideration and could be discussed as early as next week.

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