Thursday, June 19, 2008

Booting Outlawed! A New Day Dawns In Minneapolis photo

Right when it seems there is no progress, and hardly anybody is paying attention, surprising change happens right out of the blue. Car booting has been outlawed in Minneapolis! Woo hoo!!!!!!! It's enough to...

...make "Angle Grinder Man" jump right out of his skintight superhero costume and dance in the streets for joy.

And, as you might suspect, this blog did play a minor role. The documented "booting horror stories" certainly made their way around and, when the time came to write the story in Minnesota Daily, I was in touch with the reporter and recommended one of my blog contributors as a good source of a "booting horror story."

Here is how things appear to have gone down, in thumbnail summary, according to the fine Minnesota Daily article by Anna Ewart.

The City Council voted UNANIMOUSLY to ban the practice of booting (with limited exceptions for lots too small for a tow truck to maneuver) as of midnight, Saturday, June 14.

Booting had been allowed since 1994, but the city council documented several "predatory practices," such as booting without adequate signage and without proper authorization. Some used "intimidating behavior" to shake down drivers for fees paid on the spot, threatening the drivers with towing.

Booting companies had received 52 citations in 3 years, with fines totaling approximately $25,000. Minneapolis is one of the few cities which allow booting, and had a higher-than-average cap at $103.50. Complaints were especially bad in the University area, where students were soft, easy targets.

The owner of a Gopher Towing, Gene Buell, said he stopped booting when unethical practices began popping up in Minneapolis, including kickbacks to the owners of lots. This practice was outlawed in 2005, but the city's report said it "might have continued anyway."

Gee, maybe I need to get my hands on this juicy city report and publish it verbatim.

However, I'm actually more worried about St. Paul than Minneapolis. Yes, indeed, it is dawn in Minneapolis but it continues to be midnight in St. Paul. With the light rail set to eliminate so much parking along University Avenue in St. Paul, something "darker than midnight" is on the horizon, a horrible tow truck feeding frenzy, like circling sharks picking off shipwreck survivors.

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