THE PARKING GUYS, INC.
METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE & DAVIDSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE EX REL TRAFFIC & PARKING COMMISSION
June 4, 2019
from the Chancery Court for Davidson County No. 17-970-II
William E. Young, Chancellor
appeal concerns the denial of a valet parking permit. The
Parking Guys, Inc. ("Parking Guys") sought a permit
for valet parking from the Traffic and Parking Commission
("the Commission") of the Metropolitan Government
of Nashville and Davidson County ("Metro"). Despite
a study reflecting no traffic problems caused by Parking
Guys' activities, the Commission denied the permit.
Parking Guys then filed a petition for common-law writ of
certiorari in the Chancery Court for Davidson County
("the Trial Court"). The Trial Court found that,
notwithstanding the study, the Commission's decision was
supported by material evidence including the firsthand
observations of local business owners. The Trial Court also
denied a petition to intervene filed by Linda Schipani
("Schipani"), an individual sued by Parking Guys in
federal court for allegedly conspiring to deny the permit.
Parking Guys appeals to this Court, as does Schipani still
seeking to intervene. Parking Guys argues that the
Commission's decision was based on politics rather than
material evidence. Schipani, for her part, argues she has a
special interest in this case warranting her intervention
because of the federal suit filed against her even though it
has been dismissed. We hold that the Commission's
decision was supported by material evidence. We further find
no reversible error in the Trial Court's decision to deny
Schipani's motion to intervene. We affirm the judgment of
the Trial Court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Court Affirmed; Case Remanded
Lynch, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, and Matthew J. Hoffer,
Lansing, Michigan (appearing pro hac vice), for the
appellant, The Parking Guys, Inc.
Cooper, Director of Law, the Department of Law of the
Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County;
Lora Barkenbus Fox, Catherine J. Pham, Metropolitan
attorneys, for the appellee, the Metropolitan Government of
Nashville & Davidson County, Tennessee, by and through
its Traffic and Parking Commission.
A. Horwitz, Nashville, Tennessee, for the
appellee/intervening-defendant, Linda Schipani.
Michael Swiney, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Andy D. Bennett and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.
MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE.
Guys is a company that provides valet parking services. This
litigation stems from Parking Guys' application to obtain
a permit to perform valet parking service for patrons of
Déjà Vu, an adult club located in Nashville.
Valet service is conducted on 15th Avenue North,
although the club's address is 1418 Church Street.
Parking Guys is licensed to conduct valet parking operations
but needed to obtain a permit to legally conduct operations
at this specific location. Metro Code § 12.41.030,
"Valet location permit required," provides:
In addition to the licensing requirements of Section
12.41.020 of this chapter, the department shall issue parking
permits to valet parking operators to conduct their
operations on public streets as a commercial enterprise or in
furtherance of a commercial enterprise. A separate permit is
required for each location where valet parking services are
provided. Permits will be issued only for locations where
valet parking would not be detrimental to the public safety,
health and welfare of the inhabitants of Nashville and
Davidson County and only after approval of the commission.
2017, Parking Guys applied to Metro's Public Works
Department for a valet parking permit. The application was
denied. Parking Guys was, however, able to obtain temporary
lane closure permits pending appeal. A hearing was held
before the Commission on July 10, 2017. Parking Guys owner
Craig Martin gave his input, as did several neighboring
business owners. Parking Guys' application for a valet
permit faced strong opposition from locals who asserted that
Parking Guys' activities obstructed traffic, caused
problems with parking, and created a hazard to pedestrians.
One such opposing perspective came from Schipani, President
of Clinical Research Associates located across the street
from Déjà Vu, who stated:
MS. LINDA SCHIPANI: The white building is ours. And the
parking lot behind there is ours. I will tell you that we
have "No Trespassing" and -- signs, and "No
Parking." But despite that we have had -- we've had
Particularly we've had parking from -- the valet parkers
themselves are parking there. We have had -- there's
traffic up and down the street. They are parking between my
-- my exit, or entrance, right there from the alley to -- to
my parking lot. And you can hardly get out of there. It's
On the other side they're parking between our -- our
parking lot so that you can't get out of our parking lot
safely without going into the other lane of traffic. I will
assure you that with -- with what we're seeing,
there's so much traffic down there, there's traffic
up and down the street. And the police have been called
Commission did not reach a decision at this hearing. Instead,
it deferred ruling on the permit so that Public Works could
conduct a study on the traffic effects of Parking Guys'
activities. A group called Collier Engineering carried out
the study, which was the basis for a written report. The
Collier Report stated, in part:
As shown in the table, approximately 49 valet maneuvers were
counted on Friday, July 28th evening and Saturday
July 29th early morning, which results in
approximately 25 valeted vehicles, and was the busiest day
observed. It should be noted that rideshare, taxi, and
pedicab drop-off and pick-up activities were also observed
occurring along the 15th Avenue North block
frontage. The observations also showed that there were five
(5) vehicles that experienced delay on 15th Avenue
North due to congestion at the valet stand and curb face. One
instance was observed during the 9:00 PM hour on Friday
evening, one instance during the 1:00 AM hour of Saturday
morning, and three vehicles were affected during the 2:00 AM
hour on Saturday morning. When this occurred, the street
operated with slow "Yield-Flow" conditions.
During the observations, northbound traffic on
15th Avenue North backed up into the crosswalk at
its intersection with Church Street on two occasions both
during the 2:00 AM hour. One instance lasted approximately 10
seconds and the second lasted approximately 30 seconds. Both
involved one vehicle turning onto 15th Avenue
North from Church Street and did not extend beyond the
crosswalk. The busiest time period for the valet stand and
rideshare/occurred around closing time (3:00 AM) on Friday
evening/Saturday morning when through traffic on
15th Avenue North and Church Street is fairly low.
Parking and standing was observed on the west side of
15th Avenue North within 20-30 feet of the stop
line for southbound 15th Avenue North traffic at
Church Street during portions of the observations. A couple
of vehicles were observed making U-turns from the valet stand
to go south on 15th Avenue North and access the
traffic signal; however, it is not clear from the data
whether those were made by valet staff or the
customers/vehicle owners. The traffic signal goes into Flash
Mode at 3:00 AM.
It should be noted that the observations were conducted over
one weekend, and it is not known how it compares to typical
operations and number of customers.
juncture, we deem it helpful to provide the reader some
visual context. The following photograph contained in the
administrative record, although not illustrative of Parking
Guys' alleged dangerous activities, shows the site in
August 14, 2017, the Commission took up the matter of Parking
Guys' application for a valet parking permit once more.
Local business owners again registered their objections. For
instance, Eric Steer stated as follows:
MR. ERIC STEER: So I'm Eric Steer. I'm the plant
manager of Country Delite, which is on Church Street across
from the establishment. We use the streets, you'll see in
the pictures attached.
I would like to start by saying one clarification. We are a
24/7 operation. So I know the study was done and -- and they
did say that the businesses were closing. We are a very old,
very well established Nashville pure milk company, Sealtest,
Truly Pure (Unintelligible) and now Country Delite.
CHAIRPERSON GREEN: Okay.
MR. ERIC STEER: So we are a long-term business. As you can
see, it impacts us both because we have 86 to 100 employees.
So we have employees that are trying to walk to a parking
lot. And we also have tractor trailer traffic that is trying
to move. So this is both a safety and an operational thing
because we have both people that are trying to walk to their
parking, and we have tractor trailers that are going on
There has been a numerous operational -- our trucks are
actually wanting to circumvent this neighborhood. And being
dairy operations we load our trucks early in the morning so
we can get out to our establishments before significant
So I think the pictures speak for themselves. I left letters
also. Many, many, many of the business owners -- or all the
business owners that are here are having side effects both
from their employees, from their people that are coming from
both a safety and a business ...