General Question

weeveeship's avatar

Can someone help me with this question about parking?

Asked by weeveeship (4363 points ) May 8th, 2014

Suppose there is a Safeway and a McDonalds about a block away from the Safeway. The two stores have separate parking lots (they are a block away after all). I want to go to McDonalds to eat lunch and then walk over to the Safeway to get some stuff.

My question is:
1. Will I get towed if I go to McDonalds, eat lunch there, and then walk over to Safeway (while leaving my car at the McDonalds parking lot)?
2. How long could I stay in Safeway before my car at the McDonalds parking lot is in jeopardy of being towed?

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22 Answers

GloPro's avatar

There is no way to answer this. Parking lots can be privately owned and then yes, they can tow you after a posted time has passed. Without seeing the lots and potential signage we would only be potentially misinforming you.

Walmart is different. All Walmarts allow overnight parking for RVs and vehicles.

jaytkay's avatar

I’m not sure, but I applaud your willingness to walk. Among Americans, you are in the 1% that way.

It cracks me when people who spend $100s or $1000s on gym memberships aren’t willing to walk a block or two.

bolwerk's avatar

I don’t know what this walking this is, but it sounds socialist.

In the absence of knowledge, I would aim to be quick about it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Leave the MacDonald’s bag on the dashboard. If they know you ate there they would have to be idiots to tow your car. And nice touch with the walking.

CWOTUS's avatar

My advice, in general, would be to park and shop for non-perishables at the Safeway before walking to McDonald’s. Leave your Safeway bags on the passenger seat of the car – as proof that you are a Safeway customer, and then when you’ve finished at McDonald’s go back to Safeway to finish shopping for perishables.

There are two reasons for this:
1. Safeway probably has a bigger parking lot, which means that it will be a longer interval between security checks to find parking scofflaws and freeloaders, and since it is a bigger lot, it will inconvenience other shoppers less, and

2. You don’t want to be carrying bags of groceries to McDonalds, which will be a red flag to anyone there, who may mark your car for towing next time you try the same thing; plus you don’t really want to carry bags of groceries for a block or more, do you? In addition, your car taking up relatively more valuable space in the smaller parking lot will cause more problems for McDonalds customers and management.

So, more than two reasons, I suppose.

wildpotato's avatar

Depends on the parking lot. I have been towed for doing this – and not leaving nearly as long as shopping for groceries; I was just running back to the other business to grab something I’d forgotten there. It took approximately 60 seconds, and by the time I got back outside and started walking towards my car in the other lot, the tow truck was already hooked onto my bumper. Turns out the tow truck sits behind the store while a “spotter” car drives around the lot and looks for people doing exactly what I did. I had to run back over and quickly climb in my already hitched-up car to prevent the assbag from towing it with my dog inside. I was even holding a shopping bag from the business who owned the lot.

In conclusion – move your car, don’t take the risk.

Coloma's avatar

Just leave your Big Mac box on the dash.That should buy you extra parking time. lol
I really doubt anyone is going to be that anal or even pay attention, unless your car was there for hours on end. 30 minutes to an hour, no problem is my opinion.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@wildpotato That sucks. I would go inside and tell them I’m done shopping at their place forever if that’s an option.

CWOTUS's avatar

As @wildpotato‘s advice suggests, you do need to be aware of your surroundings and the degree of enforcement! In addition, read the signs that are probably posted around the lot. Sometimes the spots at the far end of the lot can be used as parking for other nearby businesses, which is exactly what you want, but parking just one row away from that and attempting to run elsewhere can trigger the tow-spotter.

It also helps if you’re shopping at “normal busy” times, and you’re not taking up one of the very first spaces in the lot, or one of the very last ones. And it certainly helps to know the town. In West Hartford, CT, I can do this at the Whole Foods lot, go to the bar across the street for up to an hour or so, and then shop at Whole Foods and drive away. No problem. In Hartford, I wouldn’t even consider it. Well, I wouldn’t even consider shopping in Hartford, for the most part. East Hartford, on the other hand, doesn’t have any such restrictions.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

No, you won’t get towed from either lot regardless of whether you shopped there or not. You should probably move your car within an hour of the store closing (whichever one you at which parked.)

Unless you are in a town of less than 2,000 residents. It would help if you were a bit more specific as to the nature of the town, village, hamlet or city to which this question refers.

GloPro's avatar

@Dan_Lyons My town population is 23,000. They will most certainly tow any vehicle parked longer than 2 hours.

weeveeship's avatar

Suburb. Don’t know town population, but it’s not a rural area at all.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

@weeveeship See my answer just below to GloPro.

@GloPro I highly doubt that they send parking monitors out to check on cars when there is no way they can possibly know whether you were shopping there that day, even as small a hamlet as yours.

And usually, in the smaller villages like yours, you can just go to the office and nicely ask the management if you can stay parked there. Most little places like yours will even allow overnight parking if you are sleeping in your vehicle.

GloPro's avatar

@Dan_Lyons Nope. There are signs everywhere, a guy walking around with chalk, and regular towing. It is irrelevant as to whether you are a patron or not… you must move your car every two hours. You can just move it to a different spot, but if you exceed 2 hours you get towed. The lots are privately owned and in a partnership with the city to get a portion of fees collected from towing. It has happened to me, the city manager stonewalls because the lots are private. It’s a brilliant design. And no, you cannot simply ask permission because the lot owner is the landlord to the businesses that abide by his rules and is not on site. The businesses have no say in the parking, including the Safeway in the lot.

The other option is to choose the paid parking garages.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

@GloPro I guess that means @weeveeship would have to be back from Safeway in an hour and a half. (If he were in your town). He doesn’t make mention of any parking signs or chalkers or other ridiculous activities by city management in this regard.

rojo's avatar

I would go where the odds favored me. There is a lot more parking spaces at Safeway the McD’s so park at Safeway and walk to the fast food/

pleiades's avatar

I’ve seen really aggressive towing videos on YouTube regarding McDonalds, don’t ask me how the hell I know this I just watched it somehow!

JLeslie's avatar

Park at Safeway. That’s going to be your last stop and you will have bags to carry to the car. I’m assuming Safeway has a large lot and plenty of spaces and the lot is not scrutinized and there are no warnings that only Safeway customers can park there. If there are those type of warnings and you are worried, just go ahead and move the car.

If the parking lots are tight, it is more curteous to the next patron to move the car to the place of business you are visiting.

wildpotato's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I did. Plus left a review of the experience online. Lots of people do, actually. The managers of those stores that use the lot literally could not care less.

Perhaps I should mention – the lot I’m talking about is located across the street from a mall that charges for parking in their garage and is also a five minute walk from a major train stop for Manhattan. Even street parking in Jersey City is permit to prevent driving commuters and shoppers from taking advantage of local spots. So it’s not out of left field, this towing thing – it’s just overly aggressive, totally predatory, and slightly illegal (use of “spotters”).

Situational awareness, as @CWOTUS says, is your best bet. I was aware of the towing practices but figured my situation was way quicker and far more understandable than parking to go to the mall or to the PATH train. The Chilis lot even backs up next to the Shoprite lot and is only separated from it by a curb. Nope, doesn’t matter – one foot out of the Shoprite lot and you’re fair game for towing.

jca's avatar

Do you ever see cars getting towed from McD’s? Probably not. If you don’t leave it there more than an hour or two, I wouldn’t worry about it. I’m sure McD’s is not keeping track of cars, who’s in, who’s out, whose car belongs to who. Honestly, I wouldn’t think twice about it. That’s just me and I’ve never been towed. Would McD’s want to tow a car and then find out it was a customer who’s been there the whole time? How stupid would they look?

turtlesandbox's avatar

My town has a population of 3000 and it’s one of the larger towns in the area (23000 is big for us) We would have no problem parking our car at the grocery or fast food restaurants for an hour or more. We could probably leave it for a couple days before anyone did anything about it.

dabbler's avatar

Which of the two lots tends to have more spaces available?
Park there and walk to the other place.
Seems like you’d be less likely to get towed if there are plenty of spaces available.

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