The new parking structure at the San Diego VA Healthcare Center in La Jolla opened for veterans in January of 2016 and added 122 new parking spaces for veterans.
But one veteran is unhappy about it.
“My beef is that I want to park my car in the parking structure. That's why it was constructed it was erected for veterans,” Howard Singer, a Navy Veteran said.
The VA has determined that to maximize parking for veterans, the valet service and employees are the only people allowed to park cars in the structure.
Martin Sizemore is the Chief of Police at the San Diego VA Healthcare Services.
“You're going to have to put valet parking somewhere and this is a high congestion area where we can keep folks away from a lot of the traffic in here,” he said.
Part of the issue is that there is an area of the garage with a steep slope and Sizemore says it could be dangerous for some veterans in wheelchairs or with scooters. The elevator access is also limited.
Sizemore says there are other safety considerations: “Some of our clientele have difficulty parking vehicles and in tight areas.”
But Singer says he can drive as well as any valet.
“Those valets don't have any more skills than I do.”
The parking in the structure allows for 213 spaces for employees who drive in guided by the valet service. Below are 237 spaces available when cars are stacked in by valet drivers. In total there are now more than 700 parking spaces for veterans at the VA Healthcare Center.
There are two more structures planned to add 800 additional spaces in the next few years.
According to recommendations from Veterans Affairs Office, when parking structures or areas are being developed, patients at VA medical centers should have closer access to parking than employees.
Singer says this policy flies in the face of the VA’s mantra.
“Veterans first, it rings hollow, absolutely rings hollow,” he said.