Fayetteville to address vehicle booting in downtown, Dickson Street areas

Parking signs, like the one pictured here in the private Fayetteville Depot lot off Dickson Street, may soon have to be replaced with updated information if a new law is passed.

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

Update: This proposal passed unanimously on Sept. 3. The ordinance was amended to require background checks that restrict anyone convicted of a violent or sexual crime from being employed at a booting company.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan says he’s fed up with complaints over companies who use wheel clamps to punish drivers who don’t pay to park in private lots.

As a result, Fayetteville City Council members next week will consider a new law regulating the practice of “booting” cars in the downtown and Dickson Street entertainment districts.

The city does not boot or tow vehicles unless they’re blocking a driveway or parked in an emergency zone. Still, Jordan says his office has received “countless” phone calls, emails and Facebook messages from residents complaining about boots on their cars.

“Booting has become quite a chapter in the history of paid parking,” said Jordan. “So I just thought since we’ve got to deal with this, then we’ll just deal with it.”

State law did not allow cities and counties to regulate booting, but new legislation sponsored by Rep. David Whitaker, D-85 (Fayetteville), went into effect in mid-August.

The proposed ordinance would force companies to lower fees for removing a boot from $100+ down to $40, similar to a city law that caps towing fees at $60 for cars towed from private lots in the entertainment district.

Other regulations include requiring signs in private lots that display violation fees plus the name, address and phone number of the company in charge of booting. The booting company would have to immediately answer all calls placed to the posted telephone number, and must remove the boot within 15 minutes of receiving a phone call from the owner of a booted vehicle. Booting company employees would have to wear a company uniform and display photo identification. The employees would have to accept credit cards, debit cards and cash, and must provide a receipt of payment. Violation of any part of the new law could result in a $500 fine.

Council members could also vote to require a criminal background check for each booting company employee.

The issue will be discussed at the next council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 3 inside room 219 of the City Administration Building in downtown Fayetteville.