Decatur City Commission passes new regulations on bootingA van in the CVS parking lot in Decatur with a boot on the front tire. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt.
The Decatur City Commission on May 16 unanimously approved new restrictions on the use of mechanical locking devices on illegally-parked vehicles.
“Booting” in the city of Decatur has come under renewed scrutiny as private property owners have stepped up their enforcement. A Decaturish investigation found that Decatur Police officers called to intervene in booting disputes are busier than ever. Calls to resolve these disputes increased 188 percent from 2014 to 2015, records show.
Under the new rules adopted by the City Commission, booting fees are now capped at $75. Drivers were being charged nearly $100 to remove boots from their vehicles. There are also new rules on how parking enforcers will identify themselves. Assistant City Manager Lyn Menne made a couple of last-minute additions to the revised ordinance intended to clear up confusion. Signs in parking lots will now include the names of the businesses each lot serves.
Menne said the signs will also include a clear message.
“If you leave this property, you will be booted,” Menne said.
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While there have been grumblings of boycotts of downtown Decatur businesses and store employees have told some customers they don’t approve of the practice, Menne said that many business owners have supported increased enforcement. When parking spots aren’t available, it hurts business, the owners say.
“I’ve had calls from retail tenants this week saying we’re in support of this,” Menne said. “It is an issue and they are the ones requesting it. In most cases, it’s not the property owner who has decided we’re going to boot on our lot.”
Other changes to the city’s booting rules include:
– Requiring the name of the booting company be included on signs in parking lots.
– Requiring the name of the owner of the lot to be included on the signs.
– Requiring an ID badge to be worn by operators of mechanical locking devices.
– Requiring that pay stations in parking lots must be in working order.
To see the full list of proposed changes to the booting ordinance, click here.
During public comments, one resident said she’d eaten at Chipotle, took a quick stroll around the block and came back to find a boot on her vehicle. In many cases, people are under the impression that if they shop at a business served by the lot, they can leave and then come back with no penalty. That’s not how it works, Mayor Patti Garrett said.
“What has been said by the booting companies is, ‘We don’t know when you’re coming back. We don’t know where you’ve gone. Our assumption is you have parked your car incorrectly,'” Garrett said.
Menne said there have been instances where people go to the CVS lot, buy a pack of gum, then cross the street for a meal at Taco Mac on West Ponce de Leon.
“We make rules and regulations for the folks that are abusing it,” Menne said.
City Commissioners and city staff also noted a page on the city’s website listing the locations of parking options around the city: http://www.decaturga.com/city-government/city-departments/economic-development/parking
In other business, City Commissioners unanimously approved changes to the city’s clean air ordinance that will ban use of e-cigarettes in public parks. There were no public comments for or against the new rules.