Booting companies fight to keep $75 standard

Photo by Vanessa Johnson | The Signal

Atlanta City Council held a meeting on June 1 to address citizens’ concerns regarding parking on private property. Several booting company owners attended the meeting to voice their disapproval of recently proposed changes.

A meeting was held on June 1, led by City Council Chairman Andrea Boone and Council Member Amir Farokhi, to address several potential changes. Separate from Atlanta’s “Don’t Get The Boot” program, which will soon help resolve parking tickets received from the city, this meeting was designed to address the issues around booting on privately owned lots.

Council members proposed a reduction to the allowed fee for boot removal, sparking disagreement from booting company representatives.

Should the council’s proposition go into effect, booting companies will not be allowed to charge a customer more than $45 to remove a boot, a significant drop from the current rate of $75. Boots that can be taken off without a company employee will not be permitted to cost more than $75 per removal.

Former council members and current booting industry representatives Aaron Watson and Lamar Willis said that they think reducing booting removal fees will only contribute to the problem and will allow people to park illegally for less money. “If someone is running late and the option is to get booted for $45 or miss their event, it’s a cost of doing business for some people,” Willis said.

Booting company owner Spence Beck said that reducing the fee is a matter of bad business. “I’ve seen the council try to go towards a lesser fee, but I think it should be higher. $75 is not enough,” Beck said.

Atlanta citizen Tim Burns said, “The $45 rate is not much of a deterrent for people that will park illegally, but it also disables the booting operators for being able to perform and operate as a company. It’s not just squeezing the bottom line; it is going to suffocate companies and put them out of business.”

Changes to public signage were also discussed. According to council members and company owners alike, warning signs for booting areas are lengthy and difficult to read.

Parking company representative Jeff Phillips explained his take on the signage. “Many people are booted because of the sign. It reads like a barcode. I promise you can’t read it if you’re driving. If you’re walking away, you’ll get to the third line and give up. It’s nonsense and it’s a novel. This is what predatory booting is. People think they have been booted unfairly because they don’t know what’s going on,” Phillips said.

The City Council and representatives from the booting industry suggested new ways to rework the current signage. Larger font, clear phrasing and concise language were all included in the draft of a new sign. However, once the council decides on a new sign format, it will be required to be released immediately. Given the inability to do so within the time limit of this meeting, Farokhi said that signage changes would be addressed at a later date.

Also on the list of potential changes: logo and ID requirements, and time limits. Each employee that places a boot on a car must wear a logo and carry a company ID to prove their affiliation. According to Farokhi, this aspect is intended to increase professionalism within the booting industry.

Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., once contacted by the owner of the vehicle, a booting company must release the boot within 45 minutes. During other times of the day, a boot must be removed within an hour.

City Council will continue working through these issues as they arise. For now, council members and booting representatives agree to work through most of the proposed policy changes, though the contentious point of boot removal fees will continue to be addressed.

1 Comment

  1. It feels that much isn’t being discussed here. Who benefits most from the fee associated with illegal parking? Individuals that take the time and money to pay for parking are not in need of a deterrent and those are the clients that should be supported. In the event that you are booted when you are a paying customer, the fees should be reflective of that and you should not be treated as someone who just refused to pay. Currently, there are no checks and balances in place for law abiding citizens. Parking companies place boots and stickers on your car and there are no time stamps to refer to with your parking receipt. There are no policies printed in the areas that these companies monitor so anything that they say goes, leaving us to feel helpless. You also can never speak to an individual in charge and you’re referred to online dispute forms with no confirmation from the companies. So much in this issue seems to be for the profit of everyone but the citizens.

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