Get outta here (or, don't park at Denny's)

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Tow trucks are on the move at Denny's on West Bijou Street next to the county's Department of Human Services office.

"The parking situation is a little bit crazy," DHS spokeswoman Jennifer Brown says.

DHS, at 105 N. Spruce St., has more employees than parking spaces — 415 full-time employees work at its two buildings but there are only 307 spaces. Then there are part-time workers and the 400 to 600 clients on average who visit the DHS offices each day.

What's a person to do? Park in the Denny's lot, apparently, but Denny's decided to put its foot down, or should we say boot? Some vehicles parked in the Denny's lot are booted with a mechanism that prevents the driver from moving the car; others are towed away. Costs to reclaim a vehicle range up to $190, Brown says.

The towing began early this month, and Brown didn't know why Denny's decided to crack down now. We tried to ask Denny's, but nobody was answering the phone there today.

Brown says the DHS security guards report up to nine vehicles were towed in one day.

She says the Family Dollar store nearby as well as the Veterans Administration also have been known to tow cars of those at the DHS offices. But neither has been towing lately. Only Denny's.

Brown says DHS has posted signs in its waiting rooms warning people about the towing and announce every 15 minutes that cars parked in the Denny's lot will be towed.

Many DHS clients are there for food stamps or other assistance, so the last thing they need is an unexpected expense.

"You hate to have someone come here for assistance and have their car towed," Brown says.

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