Dallas Backs Off Boot Law Vote

Supporters complain parking lot mayhem will continue

Dallas city councilmembers Wednesday delayed for at least two months a vote on a law to regulate parking lot booting. It comes after months of meetings and angry complaints from customers.

The complaints center chiefly on lots where customers put cash in a slot but receive no receipt to prove they paid.  The immobilizing boot is placed on a wheel as a penalty for failing to pay. The fee to remove the boot is generally $100.

Many people insist they were booted unfairly.  

“All we’re asking for is a reasonable ordinance, you provide a receipt,” said Sean Fitzgerald with the Deep Ellum Community Association. 

Fitzgerald was prepared for a planned public hearing and city council vote on Wednesday, with dozens of supporters to speak and a petition with more than 800 signatures. 
But the ordinance that appeared on the city council agenda did not include the receipt provision, which had been discussed at city council committee meetings.
“It looks like the parking companies hired some pretty good lobbyists, and all of a sudden, the whole landscape changed,” said Fitzgerald.
The hearing was canceled and the vote delayed until late August. Mayor Tom Leppert asked the City Council Transportation Committee to review the plans. 

“There’s a clear consensus to go ahead and do something,” Leppert said. “We just want to make sure that we’ve got all these pieces in line.”
Parking lot owners have balked at the expense of installing machines that would dispense receipts instead of keeping their existing cash payment slot boards.

“Are we putting an undue burden on them in terms of asking them to purchase technology, equipment, that sort of thing, that simply can’t be justified in a small parking lot?” Leppert asked.
Deep Ellum Foundation leader Barry Annino owns a parking lot, but he supports requiring receipt equipment. 

“These machines are only $2,500, solar powered, (and you can) stick them in the ground,” Annino said.
Council member Angela Hunt wants receipts put back into the law. 

“We can’t pass a toothless ordinance. I’m not going to pass a toothless ordinance for my constituents. We’ve got to wait and do this right,” said Hunt.
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