Councilmember proposes booting the 'boot'

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April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

The City Council's Public Safety & Regulatory Services Committee will hold a public hearing Wednesday, Oct. 27 to ban the "boot," the car immobilization device used by private towing companies as an alternative to impounding cars.

City Councilmember Paul Zerby (2nd Ward), who represents Downtown's Mill District and southeast Minneapolis, is proposing the ban.

Zerby's office has received complaints from people who say they have been unfairly booted. Others have made allegations about kickbacks, Zerby said.

At an Oct. 12 meeting, Allan Bernard, an aide to Zerby, told the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association's board of directors that several 1st Precinct police officers have signed a petition supporting a ban.

Drivers were allegedly unfairly booted at a Downtown lot after a parking lot attendant swiped envelopes from a pay box and let a private company boot the cars, Bernard told the board.

"The biggest flashpoint I hear about over and over is the feeling that this is a predatory industry," Zerby said, adding that he's made an effort to negotiate with local towing companies who use the boot.

He said he'd like to see parking lot managers do a better job monitoring the "booting" process.

The City Council considered implementing a city-sponsored "booting" program earlier this year, but the proposal stalled in committee last spring. Councilmember Barbara Johnson (4th Ward) pitched the booting program in an effort to boost revenue and reduce impound lot use.

Supporters of the boot say the device deters parking scofflaws and is less harsh than a tow, which typically is more expensive and inconvenient for drivers.

The Public Safety & Regulatory Services Committee meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, room 317 in City Hall, 350 S. 5th St.