York City Council members are getting ready to talk about the practice of ‘booting’ cars. Not for unpaid parking tickets, but for people who are illegally parking.
“Private parking garages had people coming in and not paying. They would get a ticket from that private company, but that private company isn’t really able to enforce that, unless they take the person to court. So they were losing out and not seeing people respect their parking garage. So they decided to go with the booting,” said York City Council Member Michael Helfrich.
‘Booting’ is more common in larger cities, but recently has started showing up in York. A number of private companies contracted services for ‘booting’ as an alternative to towing.
‘Booting’ involves using a clamp device on the wheel of a vehicle to prevent it from moving. Owners of booted vehicles must pay a $75 fee to have the device removed.
Currently, towing companies must follow an ordinance and pay yearly fees to operate in the city. But, state law and city ordinances do not regulate or even mention ‘booting.’
Michael Darrah, owner of Darrah’s Automotive & Recycling Inc. wants to see a level playing field. “They regulated the towing companies as for what they can do and we need to have a level playing field. If booting is going to be allowed in the city in the ordinance then all of the companies should be allowed to do it,” said Michael Darrah. “The regulations should be for everybody not just for the towing companies. If booting is going to be permitted then it needs to be licensed and regulated just the same as the towing. Because it is pretty much no difference other than the vehicle doesn’t move.”
Brandon Marquette owns Parking Lot Services LLC. which boots cars in the city. He says towing and booting are different and should be treated as such. “Towing and booting are completely different. Potential violators coming and seeing a booted vehicle, along with the posted signs, might deter them from continuing to fill up more available parking spaces for the wrong reasons,” said Brandon Marquette. “Tow truck companies are required to follow a 15 minute grace period. Well with us, if we boot a car and we have to give them 15 minutes to return, for example, if it’s an employee of the private property, and they come back from lunch and a violator is in their parking space, who pays that employee for the fifteen minutes they are waiting for their car to be moved?”
“If their car was towed it leaves you with the suspicion of the unknown. First being, did my car get stolen? Where is it, when was it took, and what happened? And if they were in the judicial center and no cell phones are allowed in, then they have no means of contacting them to help them in that process,” said Marquette.
York City Council will begin discussions on a proposed ordinance that would place regulations on towing companies and booting companies, on Wednesday. A meeting will be held Wednesday at 6 p.m. at City Hall on South George Street. Public comment is welcome.