Chef Paul Luna dishes up new PARKatlanta suit
2:09 pm, May 23rd, 2012
Atlanta chef Paul Luna has re-heated his challenge to the city’s private parking contractor, PARKatlanta, which took over Atlanta’s parking operations and enforcement in 2010 in return for up to $5.5 million of whatever it realizes in parking fees every year.
Luna, currently the proprietor of Lunacy Black Market on Mitchell Street and the founding force behind tapas spots Eclipse de Luna and Loca Luna, first sued the city last August. His complaint alleged that he had been ticketed twice for parking on Mitchell by PARKatlanta enforcement officers who had not been appointed by the chief of police, as required by Atlanta’s parking ordinance. (http://www.atlawblog.com/2011/08/famed-local-chef-turning-up-the-heat-on-parkatlanta/)
A Fulton County Superior Court judge threw out the case, agreeing with the city that the Municipal Court judge who presided over Luna’s hearing had not been properly served with the suit and granting Atlanta’s motion to dismiss.
On Tuesday Luna’s attorney, Cory Lynch, served up a fresh complaint similar to the first and based upon the same two tickets, but this one includes certificates of service to Atlanta Solicitor Raines Carter, Municipal Court Chief Judge Crystal Gaines and Judge Gary Jackson, who presided over Luna’s hearing last year.
The suit asserts that the city’s arrangement with PARKatlanta is a violation of the city charter that was undertaken without the consent of the Georgia Legislature, and says that Luna believes the city “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. He also believes the City of Atlanta in conjunction with ParkAtlanta has used the parking ordinance as a revenue measure where the scheme of the ordinance is such that the receipts will be continuous and will exceed the cost of installation, maintenance and regulation.”
“We had a misunderstanding the first time, so that suit was dismissed and we re-filed,” said Lynch. “It should go forward this time unless something crazy happens.”
Luna has been a vocal opponent of the PARKatlanta arrangement, which in addition to strict enforcement has resulted in more than 1,000 new meters being placed around the city and extended the hours drivers must pay to park. On his “Paul Luna for Mayor” website, Luna devotes a lengthy section to the issue entitled “Atlanta’s Parking Contract Inhibits Growth, Deters Business to the City.”
Even so, said Lynch, “we’re not necessarily against PARKatlanta; we just want the city of Atlanta to obey the law.”
Deputy City Attorney Eric Richardson said in an email, “The City has not been served with the lawsuit, so it would be premature for us to comment at this point.”