The boot is a steel contraption placed around one of the tires of a person's car for violations such as parking without a proper permit in one of the city's nine permit zones for more than two hours.
The Jersey City Parking Authority (JCPA) places the boot on a car tire, as well as a $42 ticket for illegal parking.
In order for the boot to be removed, a driver has to call an automated collector and pay the $110 fine over the phone. Then, the customer will receive a code that he can enter into the computerized keypad on the boot, to unlock it.
Seventy-five dollars of the fine goes to the JCPA budget, and $35 goes to the company responsible for the boots.
The new policy for calling a number to get the boot removed was implemented last year, in order to replace the more odious process of having to pay the fine in person at the Parking Authority headquarters before having the boot removed.
But what if the boot was placed in error? And what if reimbursement becomes a struggle?There is recourse
JCPA CEO Mark Russ was not available for comment about the booting situation last week due to a family situation.
But the attorney for the Parking Authority, John Young, confirmed last week that if it can be proven that the booting was done in error, the Parking Authority Board of Commissioners can vote to reimburse $75 of the $110 fine at their monthly meeting once it is approved by Russ.
In order to let the parking authority know about a boot placed in error, a resident must follow a complaint procedure whereby they can do one of three things: write a letter and submit documentation to Russ stating why the boot was placed in error, call the Parking Authority at (201) 653-6969 where an employee will field any complaints for further investigation and place it in a logbook, or go directly to the Parking Authority headquarters at 394 Central Ave. and fill out a complaint form that will be logged.
Still, proving the boot was in error can take some work. And one resident found out that she was not able to recover the $35 portion of the fine that went to the private booting company. Got her money back ... not quite
Charlene Burke, a resident of Duncan Avenue in the western part of the city, thought that it was okay to park on Christopher Columbus Drive in downtown Jersey City whenever a meeting of the city's Planning Board, Zoning Board, or Historic Preservation Commission took place in the nearby 30 Montgomery St. building. This is because of a recent policy stating that parking was allowed on Christopher Columbus Drive for those attending the evening meetings held at 30 Montgomery St.
Usually, only city employees and those with parking permits can park on this road from Greene Street to Marin Boulevard during the day, or they would be immediately booted.
Burke parked on Christopher Columbus Drive one evening in January to attend a Zoning Board meeting. Within a half hour of parking in a spot, a boot was placed on her car. She said it was the first time it has ever happened to her.
"I was fortunate that [city planner] Claire Davis was at the meeting and put out several calls to members of the Parking Authority [that night] to have this boot removed since it was placed there improperly," Burke said. "But I found out only one person is authorized to have the boot removed - [Parking Authority] Director Mark Russ - and he could not be tracked down, so it was left to me to pay the fine for the boot."
Burke said she decided to attend a late January meeting of the Parking Authority's seven-member Board of Commissioners, held at JCPA headquarters every fourth Tuesday of the month. At the meeting, she addressed Russ and the board about her situation.
Burke said she was reimbursed for the improper boot on her car. However, it was only $75 of the $110 she paid. The other $35 went to PayLock in Sayreville for the cost of the boot and the automated service.
While Burke appreciated that she got back some of the money, she is still irked by the justification given by the Parking Authority for why her car was wrongly booted.
"They claimed they didn't know that there were meetings at 30 Montgomery, even though it has been taking place since last year," Burke said. "You would think they would be more proactive and update their information to check if they are still holding meetings in the building."
When interviewed, John Young said that in Burke's case, the Parking Authority was not informed about the meetings being held this year at 30 Montgomery. Twice was not the charm
Downtown resident David Kerans usually keeps his 2003 Maserati in a parking garage a few blocks from his Sussex Street apartment. So, he never applied for a permit to park in the zone where he lives. The permits cost $15 per year for city residents.
Declining to apply for a permit was a costly mistake.
The two times that Kerans was booted, in November and January, he said he was parked on the street in front of his house in the morning. He said he got a boot for being in the same spot without a permit for more than two hours, but in fact, he had moved his car during that time.
Kerans said he first parked in front of his house around 9 a.m. and left the car there for approximately a half hour. Then, he said, he drove away to do errands. When he came back from his errands in both situations, about two hours later, he again parked his car on the street. Both times, he said, he parked for a "matter of minutes" when he literally got the boot.
"I have the evidence that proves without a doubt that I was not parked for more than two hours in the zone where I am located," Kerans said.
He also claims that in his research of Jersey City parking law, it allows him to park for up to two hours in any part of a permit zone, and then he can move to another part of the zone to park again for up to two hours. However, Young said the limit is a total of two hours parking in the zone.
Kerans has since gone to Jersey City Municipal Court to fight his boot fines, but was only able to remove the $42 ticket in court for one of the times he was fined. He said he also contacted the Parking Authority several times about the boots on his car and claims employees he spoke to told him he could not appeal the $110 fines he received.
He said that to get his $110 back, he is planning to go to small claims court in Jersey City, but he is not too optimistic that he will prevail.
In the meantime, he realizes he should get a permit.
"I will get a permit, but the Parking Authority can't give me one until I have stopped contesting the fines," Kerans said. For more information on the Parking Authority, visit their new website: www.jcparking.org To comment on this story, or to share any parking horror story, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.