Beach front parking scam going on in Santa Cruz

Beach-goers beware: there’s a parking scam going on in the area of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. One recent March weekend, at least one man found himself shelling out nearly $400 to get his vehicle out of impound after parking where he wasn’t supposed to in a motel parking lot. But he thought it was OK to leave his car there when he and his family locked it up and enjoyed their day at the beach. According to Robin Gysin, of the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Consumer Affairs office, the man had been having a difficult time finding parking when his luck seemed to change. “He went past a motel and a man in front of a parking lot said that parking was $5,” she said, while withholding the name of both the man and the motel. “He paid the man, parked, then later came back to find his car was towed.” Turns out, the motel has a plethora of signs in its lot saying “Guest Parking Only” and “Tow Away,” Gysin said. Motel management told Gysin that there is a guy who goes around collecting $5 sfrom people, saying they can park in various lots. He then takes off with the dough and leaves the motorists holding the bag. While this seems to be a known occurrence along the Beach Street area, this is the first time the Santa Cruz Police and Gysin are hearing of the parking scam. “I don’t know how many people may be impacted by this,” she said. “I get routine calls about towing during the summer but it’s from people who overstay two hour parking in the downtown area.” Gysin and police officials encourage desperate drivers who are trying to find parking to carefully read signs posted in the area. Beach-goers should feel free to park in the Boardwalk’s parking lots or use the city’s metered spots on the street, said Zach Friend, Santa Cruz Police spokesman. “Or if you have a question about a parking service being provided by a local motel or business, ask at the front desk before agreeing to pay,” he said. The victim in this case has filed for mediation with the motel, Gysin said. He maintains that the lodge should not have towed his car while knowing that this parking scammer is lurking around.
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