York City's longtime debate over how to regulate the relatively new vehicle-booting industry may finally reach a conclusion.
Triggered by the arrival of a company that uses boots to immobilize illegally parked vehicles on private lots, the city council has been mulling the issue for months.
A draft proposal that dates to September has been amended multiple times — and then amended again.
But on Wednesday, the council hammered out the final details and agreed to introduce the proposal on its Tuesday, March 4, meeting agenda. A vote is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, March 18.
The issue arose when one of the city's most prolific towing companies went out of business, opening the door for the entrepreneurial founder of Parking Lot Services to fill the void left by Intown Motors.
PLS, as it's known, subsists on the practice of booting vehicles and collecting a fee from their trespassing owners. Its customers include private parking-lot owners all over the city, several of whom have publicly lauded the service as an effective alternative to towing.
The city's police department — which is occasionally called to mediate disputes between booters and bootees — asked the council to put some rules on paper.
The document that won preliminary approval from the council Wednesday includes a modified version of one of the most controversial aspects of the original proposal — to require that booting companies wait at least 15 minutes upon discovering an illegally parked vehicle before immobilizing it.
The 15-minute wait was a key element of a 2011 ordinance amendment that sought to minimize "predatory" towing.
PLS representatives, however, argued at earlier meetings that the 15-minute wait requirement would put them out of business.
In the proposal the council will consider next month, the wait requirement would apply only when the trespassing vehicle is found on a lot where the driver has already paid to park.
For example, that includes a few metered parking spaces outside Central Market and at the market's private garage at the corner of Beaver and Philadelphia streets.
Otherwise, booting companies would be allowed to immobilize vehicles immediately upon discovering them in private lots.
The council has also lowered the fee companies are allowed to charge for the removal of a boot.
PLS currently charges $75, but the council's proposal would limit that fee to $60 — the same amount towing companies are allowed to charge to drop a vehicle before it is towed away.
— Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.