Avon aims to tweak its booting rules | VailDaily.com

Avon aims to tweak its booting rules

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado

AVON – Do you have $128 on you?

Most people don’t, and that’s why some Avon officials want booting companies to start accepting credit cards, Avon Mayor Ron Wolfe said.

If a driver breaks the parking rules and finds a boot on his or her car, that driver shouldn’t have to deal with the added hassle of trying to scrounge up cash to pay the fine, he said.

“Not everybody has $128 in their pocket, cash,” Wolfe said. “They probably have a credit card. If we only take cash, it puts people in an unsavory situation of figuring out: where is the closest ATM? Then they have to get there.”

Avon council on Tuesday talked about tweaking the town’s booting law. Since the law went into effect a year ago, companies have placed 429 boots on cars in town, according to a memo by Avon Police Chief Bob Ticer. Six people have appealed their boots in municipal court, the memo said.

Although council members think the law is working in general, they were troubled by a few instances where the law hurt residents of housing complexes – the very people the rules are supposed to protect.

“When somebody can’t park when they get home late from work, it’s not only unfair, it’s unsafe,” Councilman Brian Sipes said. “That’s where our focus needs to be.”

One Sunridge tenant claims he found a boot on his car, even though his parking pass was resting on his center console and was visible through the car window.

In especially unfair booting cases, some council members want to make it possible for the boot to be removed right away. A proposed change to the law would make it clear that a property owner – for instance the homeowners’ association that owns the parking lot – could waive the boot fee in case of a mistake.

Town officials may require booting companies to provide contact information for the parking lot’s owner when they ticket booted cars, instead of just a phone number for the booting company.

“Owners of a particular facility may make the decision to say ‘Take this boot off. It was an invalid booting,'” Wolfe said.

Several council members said they have a problem with booting companies trolling parking lots, looking for violators they can fine. They said that could lead to booting companies abusing their authority.

The Sunridge tenant claims that even after he showed the booting company his valid parking pass, the company still made him pay. The tenant didn’t have any cash on him, so the person from the booting company un-booted the car and followed the tenant to an ATM so the tenant could take out cash for the fine.

Councilwoman Kristi Ferraro said companies need to boot people for valid reasons, not just to make money.

“It’s basically extortion and we need to stop it,” she said.

Judge Buck Allen suggested requiring the manager of a property owners’ association to sign off before cars can be booted. Town Attorney Eric Heil said he feared that would be too cumbersome for the property owners and render booting less effective.

Police say most of the complaints they received about booting had to do with signs at the parking lots, and have since been resolved.

The town’s booting law allows private companies to boot cars that are parked illegally on private properties. Private property owners must enter into an agreement with a booting company to allow the booting. Booting companies also have to get a license from the town. The law allows drivers to appeal the booting fine in municipal court.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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