Famed local chef turning up the heat on PARKatlanta
4:43 pm, August 16th, 2011
Paul Luna, the out-of-the-box restaurateur behind such local dining experiences as Luna Si (now closed), tapas bars Eclipse de Luna and Loca Luna (still open, but under different owners) and Lunacy Black Market, the “part neighborhood living room, part wine house, part restaurant” he opened on Mitchell Street in late 2009, has turned his filet knife on a decidedly tough cut: PARKatlanta, the private parking enforcement operation Atlanta contracted with in 2009.
In a petition filed Friday, Luna “argues that the City of Atlanta has improperly changed the character” of its parking ordinance in violation of the city charter and without the consent of Georgia Legislature.
“Mr. Luna believes that the City of Atlanta improperly delegated part of its police power by entering into a contract that allows a private entity to enforce parts of the City of Atlanta Code of Ordinances,” says the petition, filed by Atlanta attorney Cory J. Lynch.
“He also believes the that the City of Atlanta in conjunction with Park Atlanta (sic) has used the parking ordinance as a revenue measure because the scheme of the ordinance is such that receipts will be continuous and will exceed the cost of installation, maintenance and regulation.”
According to the petition, Luna’s Ford Escape was ticketed twice, in March and in April, as it was parked on Mitchell Street near his restaurant.
During trials at Atlanta Municipal Court, the filing says that Luna called the two parking enforcement officers who issued the tickets to the stand, and asked whether they had been appointed by the chief of police; both answered that they had not, but that they had been sworn in by the city solicitor. Each officer “testified that the solicitor gave him the authority to write citations,” it says.
According to Atlanta’s parking ordinance, enforcement officers are “non-sworn personnel … appointed by the police chief or his designee as code enforcement officers.”
Lynch, said his client was not willing to discuss the case yet, but that he expected soon to be filing additional documents in support of his case.
In a July 16 story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution concerning citizen complaints about Park Atlanta, Luna bemoaned the impact of the company’s stepped-up enforcement on diners at his downtown restaurant.
“Whenever someone comes out and sees a boot on his car, there goes the customer,” Luna then told the AJC. “How can this not be affecting any of the neighborhood businesses?”
The petition said City Solicitor Raines F. Carter had been served with a copy of the filing last week, but on Tuesday he said he had not yet seen it.