BOOTING THE BOOT? Hoboken may be prevented from booting cars as Hoboken-based assemblyman and Republican Assemblyman sponsor legislation to tighten state law
Jun 02, 2014 | 1706 views | 2 2 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HUDSON COUNTY – After a series of articles in both the Hoboken Reporter and NJ.com highlighted problems with the city of Hoboken’s aggressive policy of booting cars, Hoboken-based Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia has joined South Jersey assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon to clarify language in a state law about booting.

Read the past articles here and here .

In the last few years, the city of Hoboken has become more aggressive about ticketing cars parked in the wrong permit zone. In addition, cars are often booted and thus immobilized for a first offense. Residents and even media investigative reports have clarified that the signage is confusing. In response, several members of the administration of Mayor Dawn Zimmer have acknowledged going back to 2011 that the signs can be confusing, but have not acted, pending a long-term parking study.

One councilman who had pledged in early 2012 to address the problem said in a recent Reporter story that all cities’ parking laws are confusing.

O’Scanlon, who has taken on red-light cameras around the state, recently told the Star-Ledger and Hoboken Reporter that Hoboken’s booting policies are excessive and could put someone in danger if they have health issues and suddenly find their car immobilized with no warning. A state law allows cities to boot cars if there are outstanding warrants, but doesn’t clarify if that’s the only allowable reason.

Recently, people visiting Hoboken on business have told stories of having to wait four hours, or – in one case – all night in cold temperatures to get a boot removed.

As revealed in two Reporter stories, the city wrote $1 million more in parking tickets last year than the year before.

Garcia’s involvement in the issue may not be purely altruistic. He is at odds with Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s administration on a number of issues, and Zimmer’s allies are seeking to get rid of him in his role as highly paid executive director of the agency that oversees the city’s low-income public housing. The towing issue could be a political problem for Zimmer.

A press release issued by Garcia and O’Scanlon says:

Bi-partisan legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia (D-33) and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) will tighten and clarify the rules concerning immobilization, commonly referred to as booting. This measure makes it clear municipalities are prohibited from making, amending, or enforcing an ordinance that authorizes the booting of a motor vehicle under any circumstance other than when there is an outstanding warrant against the motor vehicle. The bill comes on the heels of press reports questioning the legality of the city of Hoboken's booting policy.

Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia, a longtime Hoboken resident, says the legislation should clear up any grey area in the state law and put the brakes on overly aggressive municipal ordinances that harm motorists and businesses.

“For far too long, visitors and Hoboken residents have been subjected to a draconian booting policy that penalizes even those who have no outstanding warrants. This appears to be a predatory practice that is designed to fill city coffers.”

He added, “If creating more parking for our residents is the goal the city would be towing vehicles that violate local parking ordinances to free up spaces. However, as currently enforced, it seems that visitors are being deterred from patronizing our local businesses for fear it could prove to be a costly mistake if they park in the wrong spot.”

O’Scanlon said, “ The fact that common human decency alone isn't enough to persuade the people perpetuating this rip off to stop immediately, says something sad about the individuals in charge."

Wilson Vega Jr., a Weehawken resident who says his pregnant wife had a harrowing experience when her car was booted in Hoboken recently, applauds this bi-partisan bill. “It’s bad enough my pregnant wife had to pay a hefty fine, she also had to return the boot or wait several hours until someone could come get it, “said Vega. “It’s outrageous.”

“This is just a blatant abuse of motorists,” said O’Scanlon. “You’ve got handicapped people, senior citizens returning from dinner, single women, anybody really.”

The cost for a booting bill can exceed $200. “That’s a financial hardship for many residents,” said Garcia. “And if you don’t have a credit card to make the payment by phone, you could be stranded.”

The bill, A-3225, is expected to considered by a legislative committee in the coming weeks.


How do you feel about the issue? Comment below or email a letter to editorial@hudsonreporter.com.

Comments
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recallbethmason
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June 02, 2014
I am not a big fan of booting cars but lets be realistic, what is worse, getting your car booted or towed to a lot a large distance away from where you parked your car? people need to take a certain responsibility for their actions...9.8 out of 10 times, it is the drivers fault, it is that simple. I am fine with getting rid of using boots but that carmelo garcia is the sponsor of the legislation is a complete joke. this guy's actions over the years speak for themselves..to say he has some ethical issues would be a nice way of putting things.
assilem
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June 02, 2014
Thank you Assemblymen. Let's not also forget the numerous illegal tows that also serve the purpose of padding the budget.