Parking in York City is a hassle, no doubt about it.
That's why when a downtown business has a private lot, it tends to be protective of it.
When unauthorized people park there, it inconveniences employees and customers and results in lost productivity and business.
According to Frank Countess, co-owner of the CGA building at 135 N. George St., it's a never-ending problem.
In the past, tow truck companies were contracted to patrol private lots, hauling off unauthorized vehicles. Besides finding themselves stranded, drivers sometimes would have to pay hundreds of dollars -- cash -- to get their vehicles back. If the vehicle wasn't claimed quickly, the drivers would also be charged storage fees.
In 2011, however, the City Council passed a new ordinance regulating towing companies, and it wasn't long before the last, Intown Motors, left the city.
After that, the parking situation got much worse, according to private lot owners.
Many of them hired Parking Lot Services to restore order. The company patrols private lots and attaches immobilizing "boots" to a wheel of trespassing vehicles.
Notices are placed on vehicle windows, providing a number for drivers to call. A representative returns to the vehicle within minutes, and the boots are removed -- for $75 a pop -- and the drivers are on their way.
(Full disclosure: The York Dispatch's North George Street lot in York City is patrolled by Parking Lot Services.)
Booting appears to have taken city officials by surprise, though, and after a number of complaints city council is now considering an ordinance to regulate the practice.
We agree there should be rules booting companies must follow and support most of those proposed.
One, however, doesn't make sense.
Under the proposed ordinance, booting companies would be required to wait 15 minutes before booting a vehicle.
Either a lot is private or it isn't.
All that provision does is tell people it's OK to park on any private property in the city as long as they're back within 15 minutes.
One can run at least a couple of errands in that amount of time, so the problem of trespassing parkers is likely to get worse if they know they know they have a free pass.
Yes, parking can be a nightmare in York City.
But the solution isn't shifting the problem to taxpaying businesses; it's creating more public parking.
Or city officials might consider offering a 15-minute grace period at their parking meters and garages.
That might help, too.