45th Ward ordinance to allow booting in private parking lots


by BRIAN NADIG

The 45th Ward would join about 20 other wards in which booting vehicles on private property is allowed under an ordinance introduced by Alderman John Arena at the Oct. 16 meeting of the City Council.

While improperly parked vehicles may be towed in all wards, booting on private property is limited to wards in which the alderman has chosen to participate in the program. It is believed that very few businesses on the Far Northwest Side use booting, which generally takes less time than towing and is more commonly practiced in denser commercial areas.

Booting is permitted in the 1st, 15th, 22nd, 23rd, 25th, 26th, 27th, 30th, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, 36th, 37th, 38th, 40th, 42nd, 43rd, 44th, 46th, 48th and 49th wards, according to the city’s Web site. A city ordinance defines the practice as "of placing on a parked motor vehicle any mechanical device that is designed to be attached to a wheel or tire or other part of such vehicle so as to prohibit the vehicle’s usual manner of movement."

The city requires booting operators to place at least two conspicuous signs at each location where it performs booting. The signs must display the terms of use for the parking lot, and they may include a list of businesses whose customers may park there.
Booting companies may not assess a fee of more than $140 to remove a boot, and they must accept credit cards in addition to cash. The companies also may not boot occupied vehicles (pets do not qualify), and operators must display an identification placard that contains the company’s contact information.

The city’s Web site states that vehicles are subject to being booted even if the driver leaves the premises of the business whose parking is being used for a short time. "The duration or scope of violation is irrelevant to the question of whether you have violated the lot’s terms of use, unless expressly stated otherwise in the terms of use," the Web site states.

Alderman Timothy Cullerton introduced a booting ordinance for the 38th Ward in 2011 after it was requested by representatives of a shopping plaza at the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Irving Park Road. A Cullerton spokeswoman said that there are no other known sites in the ward where the practice is used and that the alderman has not received complaints about private booting in the ward.

Arena said that some businesses have indicated that an advantage of booting over towing is that it creates less inconvenience for the motorist. "If you are towed, you may have to spend the rest of the day getting your car back," he said.

Arena said that he has talked to Global Parking, which is the only licensed booting company in the city.

The owner of a parking lot at Six Corners has indicated that he would consider booting cars if the service became available in the ward, Arena said. He said that other aldermen have indicated that they have had no problems with improper booting in their ward.

Representatives of Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th) and Alderman Mary O’Connor (41st) said that there are no plans to allow private booting in their wards. O’Connor chief of staff Lisa Ryan said that booting would not be appropriate for the ward due to the relatively small size of its four main shopping districts and because the alderman has received no requests for the practice.

Former alderman Patrick Levar said several years ago that some businesses had asked that the 45th Ward participate in the booting program, but Levar took no action.


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