CITY HALL — Chicago’s City Council could finally vote Wednesday on a controversial plan that would allow companies to boot cars in private parking lots citywide.
The ordinance, sponsored by Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th), would let businesses across the city hire companies to boot parking violators in their lots, regardless of the ward.
Private lot booting — different from boots attached to cars on public property by city employees — is already legal in 35 wards as part of a patchwork system that some alderpeople are fighting to keep local control over.
The owner of the city’s primary private booting company, Michael Denigris of Innovative Park Solutions, has made $11,250 in campaign contributions this year to aldermen ahead of the vote, The Daily Line reports.
Reboyras, who received $1,000 in campaign contributions from the company in 2020, introduced the measure earlier this year, telling Block Club in April he did so at the behest of former 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore. Moore works as a lobbyist for Innovative Parking Solutions.
The proposal was advanced to the full City Council in September by the Committee on License and Consumer Protection, but Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) and Reboyras delayed the vote.
Ordinances are often deferred and published when measures face council opposition, or when a sponsor does not think there are enough votes to ensure its passage.
Private booting companies are allowed to charge parking offenders a maximum fee of $170 to remove a boot. Denigris told Block Club in July his company operates in more than 100 lots across the city.
Denigiris and other proponents of expanding the practice say it’s an effective way for business owners to manage their parking lots and is a lot better than the alternative: getting towed.
“Instead of towing a vehicle to a distant pound and charging the vehicle owner hundreds of dollars in towing and storage fees, an employee of [a booting company] … removes the boot after informing the owner of the vehicle why they were booted, and the offender pays $170 fine at the location and is free to get in the car and drive away,” Moore said at a September meeting.
But opponents argue it’s predatory and unfair, as parking violators are often booted within seconds of leaving a private lot.
Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) banned private booting in his ward last year, and he has become an outspoken critic of the practice.
“To me, $170 is a lot to pay for a split second error in judgment,” La Spata told Block Club in July. “I do believe that this is an issue where aldermanic prerogative is valid, where we should have a voice in this practice and whether it is appropriate for our communities.”
Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) urged her colleagues to vote against Reboyras’ ordinance earlier this fall.
“People have a right to tow in their private property. … But this is too hard for working people, for folks who are just trying to live their life,” she said. “No one’s trying to restrict people’s private property rights. This is just about a private company that wants to have a free-for-all on the city and expand their market.”
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