Jason Hochman is concerned about crowded streets, increased traffic and drunken drivers near his home in the Heights. He also suspected that two of the area’s local watering holes were exacerbating the problem, and misusing city property, by encouraging their patrons to park illegally.
As it turns out, Houston restaurateur Gary Mosley is merely maximizing and protecting his businesses in an area packed with competitors. And he’s doing it by the book.
Mosley, who owns Cedar Creek Bar & Grill at 1034 W. 20th St. and the land where Shady Acres Saloon is located at 1115 W. 19th St., owns many other nearby properties that he designates for parking. Among them is a vacant lot across from Shady Acres Saloon that contains a “For Lease” sign along with a row of smaller signs that indicate the property is to be used for Cedar Creek and Shady Acres parking and all other vehicles will be towed.
Hochman, who lives a few blocks away on Beall Street and walks his dog along 19th Street, recently reported to city officials that the space was being improperly used.
“We always buy property to accommodate the parking,” Mosley said. “We’ve always got more than enough parking.”
Norman Robinson, a traffic analyst with the City of Houston Transportation and Drainage Operations, investigated Hochman’s claims and determined the parking arrangement to be legal. Mosley sometimes charges $6 for parking on some of the properties near his businesses, which is his right, and hired a towing company to enforce his preferences after noticing that customers of other nearby businesses were parking on his land.
Two of the signs on the vacant lot are close to a fire hydrant, and Hochman said he’s seen vehicles illegally park within 15 feet of it. Robinson said the responsibility for obeying that law rests with vehicle owners and not the property owner.
“I sent that (claim) to the parking management department to come out and monitor that,” Robinson said.
Hochman said parked vehicles in front of Mosley’s lots on the southwest corner of 19th and Beall don’t leave much room for walking on the side of 19th Street, which creates safety hazards. So do “some of the people on the weekend not being in good shape to necessarily drive,” he said.
Robinson advised Hochman to report those issues to the Houston Police Department.
“I encourage him to keep being proactive and if he sees something he thinks is an issue, to report it,” Robinson said. “Like speeding. If you see it, contact them.”