Booting cars drawing attention of Charlotte City Council - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Booting cars drawing attention of Charlotte City Council

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

It's a tactic meant to keep people from parking in restricted spots.

But some customers say booting is so out of control – it's now predatory.

Patrick Cannon - Mayor Pro Tem of the Charlotte City Council – says residents and police tell city officials booting is a growing problem happening across the city.

He says that's why he put the issue on the agenda for the City Council's Community Safety Committee meeting on Wednesday.

Cannon says the issue is disturbing to him.

"That someone will literally sit in one location for hours at a time and watch for somebody to go into an establishment or not go into an establishment and then turn around and boot their cars doesn't make sense to me" Cannon says.

Members of the Community Safety Committee asked CMPD and the city's legal staff to look into solutions or suggestions to get a handle on the problem.

"We're hoping it becomes less predatory by some action by property owners to take steps to secure the parking lot better" says CMPD Deputy Chief Eddie Levins.

Deputy Chief Levins believes the restricted parking signs could be better.

"I don't think the signage is clear out there how much time you have to spend in a business for it to comply" says the Deputy Chief.

Back in April, a WBTV Photographer watched as a tow company worker booted cars at the lot near 7th  Street and Pecan. 

A customer says she went to a sandwich shop for which there is designated parking. As the staff made her sandwich, she walked over to another store in the same strip mall.

The customers says her car was booted because she went to the second store that didn't have parking. 

Deputy Chief Levins says he believes tow workers should talk to customers.

"If it's so important, there should be someone out there telling people when they walk away from the business they're supposed to be patronizing" says Deputy Chief Levins. "They need to warn them. They shouldn't wait for them to walk away then boot their cars."

Cannon says staff will "determine what needs to happen relative to signage, if there needs to be an ordinance change or non-ordinance change to advise the private sector to do something."

 Property owners say they're not taking advantage of residents.

Jim Lowder, who owns the lot near 7th and Pecan, says some people park, ignore the restricted signs, and go to other businesses. 

In that same strip mall, there are paid parking spots at the cost of $2 each. Lowder says the paid parking lot stays virtually empty because customers don't want to pay.

Lowder says he was forced to bring in a tow company to boot cars because customers coming to businesses with parking couldn't find a spot. 

He says the tow company is not practicing predatory towing.

"No. I mean you have to see the person leave the car and go to another business" says Lowder. 

Tow workers estimate they boot about 25 vehicles in that parking lot.

Drivers have to pay $50 to get the boot off.

Tow company workers say when some people realize they've been booted, they go into a store with designated parking, buy something, then call police to complain about illegal booting. 

Tow workers say they're not necessarily waiting to pounce at 7th and Pecan.

They told city council members "for that particular property we have to sit there and watch people get out the vehicles and don't abide by the signs."

Owner Jim Lowder says he's willing to do what ever the city recommends, even it means making new restricted parking signs that say 'parking only while using' a specific business. 

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