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Skyrocketing Car Booting Fees Leads City to Regulate

Private property owners contract with car booting businesses to make sure people don't park and walk off the property to go somewhere else.

 

Complaints over car booting led Sandy Springs Police Chief Terry Sult to advise City Council to set a fee limit for businesses that apply the vehicle immobilization device.

Currently some fees are in the $500-$700 range, said Sult, during last week’s City Council meeting. In one instance, a car was booted at North Springs shopping center, where Big Lots is located, when the driver decided to walk to the adjacent gas station to purchase a drink.

“When you start charging someone100 bucks for going to get a drink. That’s too much,” Sult said. “I’ve run into this problem before when there is no regulation.”

Fees can get out of control if the driver walks up as the booting operator is applying the device and becomes irate. “Sometimes fees triple and quadruple right there on the scene,” Sult added.

Under a new ordinance, the device would have to be removed if the driver returns while the boot operator is there.

Private property owners such as the shopping center and a nearby condominium, where complaints have also been lodged to police over the problem, contract with boot operators. Without regulations the operators charge what they want to remove the boot.

The Chief looked at ordinances in several cities in the metro area. The ordinance he recommends for Sandy Springs is modeled after the city of Roswell.

Sandy Springs City Council will likely vote to restrict boot fees to $40 per day. [Roswell's ordinance is $35.]

Additionally, the new ordinance would require signage be posted on the property informing drivers that cars can be booted. The business that applies the device would be required to have a live person answer their phone 24 hours per day/seven days per week. And a person must be at the scene to remove the device within one hour of being contacted.

The only way to enforce the ordinance is by complaint from citizens, Sult said.

Tell us if you welcome this ordinance and if you think it will work? Has your car ever been booted either in Sandy Springs or somewhere else?

 
Rita Paris September 26, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I have not been booted; however, my office park, The Palisades (in Sandy Springs on Peachtree Dunwoody Rd) use to boot cars parked in either reserved parking spots that tenants pay for monthly or cars parked longer than the allowed 30 or 90 minutes in visitor parking spots. The charge was $35. The new Property Manager stopped the booting because of the hassled their employees had to go through when people were upset about getting booted. So, they started putting a note of the car that the Parking Monster was going to get them if they did it again (????) I'm sure people laughed at that! Then they decided to just tow the cars. I can't even imagine what managements employess would go through if someone's car was towed!!! I would assume people would much rather be booted than towed. Therefore, I think booting is good. It will make the person more aware as to where they park next time when they see a Reserved Parking sign or a Limited parking time on a visitors space.
Patricia Zaffuto September 26, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I sincerely believe the world has gone psyco. Has anyone noticed just how large the parking lot at Big Lots is. i own a resturante and always want some cars parked there to let people know we are open , in business, and that people are stopping to eat. So it should be with Big Lots. I have decided that our new national motto should be "I am Boss". Everyone seems to want to be in control of something--even empty spaces in an almost empty parking lot. This is almost laughable if not so stupid and sad.
Adrianne Murchison (Editor) September 26, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Thanks, Patricia. Which restaurant do you own?
FreddieK September 27, 2012 at 01:55 PM
For some reason Atlanta seems to have a lot of people who regard themselves as privileged, thus, there's a lot of abuse of parking spaces. The ideal is to send a message and slight pain, and in some cases, the wait-time for boot removal might be the most painful. Conversely, predatory towing companies (such as the one at the Big Lots Parking lot) need to be reigned in as far as fees and given lessons in civility. Otherwise, I am going to buy myself one boot, only use it on very high-end cars, and charge $5,000 for removal... but I'll be polite upon payment. Don't stores understand how much their choice of parking enforcers reflects upon them? Anyone know which parking enforcement company was engaged at Big Lots?
David Davis September 27, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Patricia needs to send a strong message to the owner of North Springs Shopping Center who is the person who probably has the arrangement with the boot operator. Ironically, it sounds like the boot operator is probably one of the most successful business operators in this rundown and half empty strip mall. Unfortunately this kind of predatory business is ruining the business environment for other businesses. There are always hundreds of empty spaces in that center. I am a fan of my favorite Russian barber shop and always get my annual emmissions test at the U Haul Center where they are friendly and efficient but I strongly urge lease holders to contact their landlord and tell them to knock it off. The predatory booting arrangement is bad for their business and very bad for the reputation of Sandy Springs. Kudos to Chief Sult for bringing it to the attention of the Council and advocating for sensible regulation.
Jill Elliott September 28, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Excellent comment Patricia. I shop at BIG LOTS a lot and as long as I went in as a customer, the fact that I wonder down to another store ..right in the same parking lot (as that gas station is), I should be safe. There are several businesses located right there and let's face it...driving a car thru a parking lot isn't fun or easy (there are crazies out there...not to mention flying shopping carts) and if I choose to walk to another establishment..then I should be able. This is WAY, WAY different than parking my car in BIG LOTS and then going to a concert say, at Chastain Park, and being gone for 4 hours. Everyone is looking to make a quick buck and the current booting fees (if true) are outrageous. I just had a reporter stop me in my condo parking lot and ask me about booting...I was unaware of what was going on. But if someone boots a guest at my home...because they don't have a parking sticker (since I can't order and get that many...given the fact that over a 12 month period, I could have 100 visitors visiting me) and they are lawfully parked in either my space or a guest space...Katie bar the door, if some "get rich quick scheme" is applied to boot my guest to fund their "habits" (whatever they may be). As we used to say in the 70's "you're just cruising for a bruising."
Jill Elliott September 28, 2012 at 12:09 AM
I suspect (and hope) that once district/regional management of BIG LOTS sees this (more to come insofar as "news" then I believe the practice will stop. Way more BAD WILL than GOOD WILL coming down the pike.
Jill Elliott September 28, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Excellent post.
Doug Williams September 28, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Any thought to the possibility that the booter may be doing this on their own and just claiming to be contracted by the property?
Bob September 30, 2012 at 11:12 AM
I think booting is terrible. It's strictly a money making activity. I think a warning is more appropriate, and maybe boot the next time.
Bob September 30, 2012 at 11:13 AM
I totally agree with you. Not only do we need cars in the parking lot for your restaurant, but let passerbys know the center is still operating, and you never know these days.
Bob September 30, 2012 at 11:16 AM
I want to know if this booting happens on weekends as well as weekdays. In Atlanta proper, the parking meters are exempt on Sundays. I think Saturdays should be included as well.
Bob September 30, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Good thought, and probably true. They probably pocket the money as well, since that's the world spins today.
sw October 01, 2012 at 09:56 PM
People are uppity and have a sense of entitlement in Atlanta. Where did this come from? Some nasty girl at work left a dirty note on my car because I parked in "her spot". The parking lot was completely empty. Thank god the bitch got a job somewhere else.
anthony marshall October 03, 2012 at 10:05 PM
I think the $100 is fine but the $500 would be crazy as long as signs are posted properly then its the offenders fault for not reading. If these get reduced then reduce the fines for traffic violations. Isnt that fair speeding ticket $35-$40 not $100+. Oh wait cities and counties wont go for that. Thats the government for ya. And i work for it. Lol hey and when you go to jail if your goubd innocent then they should pay all the fees that you have to pay cause they arrested you. That will never happen. Haha!
Bob October 03, 2012 at 11:58 PM
I LOVE YOUR POST. GET 'EM sw~~~~~~~~~~~
Bob October 04, 2012 at 12:02 AM
I know they say it would cost a fortune to fire the current money grubbers, but why not, fire them, hire some Atlanta friendly, color blind, non-profit, non-neighborhood folks who do the right thing...............stop this silliness..............why give them the jobs?

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