York City Council considers a ban on wheel booting in private lots

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
City Councilmen Michael Helfrich, right, and Henry Nixon, left, share a laugh during election night at the Democratic Party Headquarters on South Duke Street in York, Pa. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Dawn J. Sagert - dsagert@yorkdispatch.com

York City Council is mulling a new policy that would ban the booting of vehicles on private property in an effort to combat alleged predatory practices by local parking companies.

City Council President Henry Nixon proposed the legislation at the Tuesday, Oct. 15, council meeting, citing reports from city residents that companies had been aggressively and unfairly booting their vehicles on private property.

"We had some very aggressive, predatory behavior on the part of some booting companies," Nixon said. "There was at least one instance where a police officer had to run interference. Our police department has a lot more to fuss about than booting."

York City has struggled for years to combat predatory booting practices through regulations. Tuesday's proposal drew the ire of a number of individuals in the parking lot business in attendance, including Alex Kauffman, owner of Parking Lot Services LLC., which oversees roughly 150 parking lots in the city.

"All 150 owners of our services have very intentionally chosen booting over towing because it is objectively better than towing," Kauffman said. "For the violator, it costs only a small fraction of the amount, there's no risk of damage to the vehicles, it avoids the panic of, 'Oh no, is my car stolen or towed,' and, if a mistake is made, a boot can be taken off in a matter of minutes compared to a multi-hour process."

The city's current ordinance calls for booting if the vehicle's owner has three or more parking violations, including if the vehicle is on private property.

After feedback from parking companies such as Kauffman's, Nixon said he anticipates negotiations and possible changes to the bill's language prior to the City Council vote during next month's legislative meeting.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.