City Council: Booting Ordinance in Effect Citywide Immediately

Today, the City Council approved an amendment to the city’s booting ordinance to make it effective across the city immediately instead of July 1. 

The booting ordinance we passed last fall requires parking lots that choose to boot to provide a written receipt to parking customers when they pay their parking fee (whether by an attendant or parking machine).  The ordinance had gone into effect in Deep Ellum on January 1 of this year and that resolved their booting problems.  Unfortunately, the problem then migrated to Downtown Dallas.  After receiving numerous complaints from Downtown business owners and visitors, Councilmember Medrano and I proposed to move up the effective date of the ordinance so Downtown visitors and businesses didn’t have to spend another five months unprotected from unscrupulous booting.

Councilmember Medrano and I called the parking lot owners in Downtown last week and told them what we planned to bring to the council this week.  Nearly all of the parking lot owners were supportive, explaining that they had abandoned booting as a means of enforcement once it became clear that booting threatened Downtown’s long-term health by driving off visitors.

One councilmember suggested that if booting were less convenient to parking lot owners as a means of enforcement, they would start towing cars.  While that’s possible, that hasn’t been the experience in Deep Ellum.  Barry Annino, president of the Deep Ellum Foundation, explained to the council today that towing hasn’t increased in Deep Ellum since the booting ordinance took effect there at the beginning of the year.  Instead, the parking lots are doing what they did before they began booting — ticketing cars that didn’t pay the proper fee.  So there hasn’t been an uptick in towing.

Some councilmembers opposed the change because they believe parking lot owners need another five months to implement an electronic payment system on their lots.  But I question whether that’s a genuine concern or just a stalling tactic because (1) parking lots have the option not to boot or to use an attendant rather than a machine and (2) no one has implemented these machines in Deep Ellum, despite having had five months (August – December 31) to do so.

After about an hour of debate, the council overwhelmingly approved the ordinance, which will go into effect tomorrow:

FOR:  Hunt, Medrano, Jasso, Davis, Hill, Atkins, Salazar, Leppert, Caraway, Koop, Margolin

AGAINST:  Natinsky, Neumann, Kadane, Allen

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Council Passes Booting Ordinance

For months, Deep Ellum’s restaurants, retailers, bars, and clubs have lost business as a result of unscrupulous booting.  Visitors to Deep Ellum would pay their parking fee, then return to the lot to find that their car had been booted and that it was going to cost them $150 to have it removed.  Many vowed not to return.  This is bad for our small business owners, bad for a struggling Deep Ellum, and bad for our city’s economy.

I am pleased that today the council passed an ordinance to regulate booting and eliminate what has been both a threat to our small businesses and an unfair (and expensive) penalty to paying parking customers.  The ordinance will require parking lots that choose to boot to provide a receipt to their customers.

We were able to gain widespread council support by creating a phased implementation plan.  For parking lots that choose to boot, the ordinance will be phased in as follows:

  • As of Jan. 1, 2010, all parking lots in Deep Ellum must provide receipts.
  • As of July 1, 2010, all parking lots outside of Deep Ellum that charge $5 or more (or $1 or more per hour) must provide receipts.
  • As of Jan. 1, 2011, all other parking lots must provide receipts.

The ordinance was approved by a vote of 14 to 1, with Ann Margolin voting against.

Council Delays Booting Ordinance

This morning, the Council unanimously voted to delay the booting ordinance until it can be considered by the Council’s Transportation Committee in August.

The delay was critical for those of us who want an ordinance with teeth that protects our restaurants and retailers that have lost customers due to unscrupulous booting.

Here’s what happened: The booting issue was presented to the Transportation Committee of which both Councilmember Medrano and I are members. We represent the two districts most impacted by the booting problem: Downtown and Deep Ellum. Continue reading