Booting finds fines

A booting service faces revocation of its license after numerous violations.

Kevin Behr

A Minneapolis parking enforcement company will likely lose its license today following a long history of violations and thousands of dollars in fines.

The Minneapolis City Council will decide the fate of Clampdown Parking Enforcement, a booting service that operated in the parking lot behind Stub & Herbs until recently.

Clampdown has been fined more than $12,000 in citations and late fees over the past year, said Ricardo Cervantes, deputy director of Minneapolis Business Licenses and Consumer Services.

Violations include failure to wear a uniform while booting vehicles, refusing to accept credit cards for payment and blocking a moving vehicle in order to put a boot on it, Cervantes said.

Council member Cam Gordon, who represents the University area, said the council will likely revoke the license at its meeting this morning.

“We want to make sure people aren’t being abused,” he said.

Revoking Clampdown’s license would put the service out of business, Cervantes said.

“If you owe the city money, you can’t do business,” he said. “It’s a privilege, not a right.”

After the council decides, it’s up to Mayor R.T. Rybak to approve or veto the revocation. He rarely vetoes these kinds of decisions, Cervantes said.

Recommendation

Cervantes’ department recommended the revocation of Clampdown’s license to the Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee at a public hearing Oct. 11.

The owner of Clampdown, Alex Oman, tried to refute the facts presented at the public hearing and vowed to bring his company back into compliance, Cervantes said.

But in the end, the committee unanimously and “expediently” approved the recommendation, sending it to a full council vote, he said.

Oman could not be reached for comment.

The recommendation came six months after a previous agreement designed to get the business back in compliance, Cervantes said.

The delay gave the city a chance to work with Clampdown to improve business practices, but during those six months, the company did not shape up and continued to break the rules, he said.

“We want people to be able to do business,” Cervantes said. “But our goal is to move in the right direction.”

Gordon said he thought the city made great efforts to work with Clampdown to improve their business operation.

“They haven’t been very successful,” he said.

Reactions

Craig Hirschey, a finance and applied economics senior, said Clampdown booted his car last spring.

He said he parked in the lot next to Papa John’s and stopped inside before heading across the street to Manhattan Loft.

When Hirschey came back, Clampdown was booting his car and charged him about $175, he said.

“It’s kind of unfair because they hold your car for ransom,” he said.

Hirschey said he’s glad Clampdown will probably lose its license.

“They’re really hard to deal with,” he said.

Lesley Fahey, a regional system supervisor for Milio’s Sandwiches, said the store’s customers had previously complained about Clampdown but since more signs were posted, there haven’t been any problems with the service.

“They were nice whenever we dealt with them,” she said. “It’s a positive service for businesses if it’s done the right way.”

Fahey said she doesn’t know who will enforce the parking rules in the future.

Some other violations and determining factors in the revocation of Clampdown’s license include:

-Disconnected phone during business operation.
-Canceled insurance for nonpayment.
-Employee drinking on the job.
-Booting without proper identification tag.
-Booting without signature from business authorizing the boot.
-Employees having contact without proper conflict management training.
-Bounced refund checks.
-Outstanding fines totaling $1,980.