City Council to hold hearing on booting

Wheel booting is popular with lot owners, because it is cheaper than towing.

by Jason Juno

Another public hearing will be held before City Council committee members vote on whether booting vehicles should be allowed in Minneapolis.

Originally, committee members were going to vote Wednesday. But the hearing will happen because the city’s publications did not mention a ban would be considered at the meeting Wednesday.

Some say they believe booting companies are out only for money, but others say it offers benefits over towing.

Booting involves using a wheel boot that locks and prevents the vehicle from moving, according to a city of Minneapolis definition.

School of Nursing communication director Mary Pattock told the committee Wednesday her story about getting booted.

She said she dropped off some film on Washington Avenue and saw a parking lot with a sign that said “free parking.” Pattock went back to pick up her pictures and parked in the lot she thought had free parking, she said.

Pattock turned into the wrong lot, though, and when she came back out, her car was booted.

She said the man who booted the car was “quite polite,” and she paid $113 to have the boot removed.

Pattock then called the company to see if it would give her a break, but the man on the phone told Pattock she would be called back immediately. When the man did call back, he tried to get her to admit she had threatened him in the previous call. He admitted her call was being recorded, she said.

Pattock said she called the situation a “scam” in her previous call and said she thinks the company called her back so it could tape the conversation.

Mike Ordorff, owner of Parking Enforcement in Minneapolis, defended his company at the hearing.

He said his company has a grievance system for customer complaints, run by a neutral party. He said his 6-year-old business has a “spotless record.”

Also, Ordorff said his company is the only one to wear uniforms. Some from other booting companies wear street clothes and blend in with the public.

Some business owners said they should be able to do what they want with their properties.

“Just for the record, I love my booting company,” said Sue Jeffers, owner of Stub & Herbs bar in Minneapolis. “I think it’s really important to monitor our parking lot without having to tow people away.”

She said a boot costs illegal parkers $93, compared with $250 for a tow, and violators don’t have to go elsewhere to get their cars. Towing also has damaged her lot before. And booting has, at maximum, taken 15 minutes, she said.

Jeffers said she would probably have to tow if booting were outlawed.

Council member Paul Zerby, Ward 2, who represents areas surrounding the Minneapolis campus, is the project’s main proponent. Right now, he said, six Council members support the proposal. Seven votes are needed to pass the ordinance.

He said he thinks booting gives businesses and the city a bad reputation, and booting is more problematic than towing.

“There’s somebody just kind of lurking, waiting for them to make a misstep,” he said. “Really I think it angers people. Then there is an immediate confrontation.”

He said that while towing costs more and makes people more angry, there is time to calm down. But car owners often see the person applying the boot.

Council member Sandy Colvin Roy said she thinks the city should more closely regulate booting businesses.

Zerby said people with complaints should go to the next public hearing at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 10 in City Hall.