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


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

Meeting on Proposed Restrictions on Car Booting

There have been a lot of problems lately with towing companies booting cars on private parking lots, especially in Deep Ellum. Since there are no laws on the books regulating booting, the city has responded by drafting restrictions to limit this activity.

Please help improve this ordinance by taking part in an upcoming public meeting:

April 20, 2009
3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Dallas City Hall, 1500 Marilla, L1/F/North Auditorium

I don’t know why this was scheduled during the day (I hold most if not all public meetings at night to accommodate working people), but maybe a daytime meeting works alright for most people. If you attend the meeting, I welcome your input about whether it was productive.