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PROVO — A city ordinance that allows private parking enforcement companies to tow or boot vehicles without a property owner’s consent on the individual violation could be changed at a Tuesday city meeting.
Provo City Council will vote on an amendment to Ordinance 2013 that would require the authorization of the property owner on which the parking violation is taking place or a peace officer makes the request. This will be similar to the law before a 2005 amendment made the current allowances, according to Mayor John Curtis.
“It’s time to undo our mistake. I want to put the decision back in the hands of property owners and take it away from those who profit by the tow,” Curtis wrote on his blog. “At the same time I realize we have responsible owners who are managing the tow companies and I don’t want to penalize them. As a result, the ordinance we are asking the council to approve will have a method for responsible owners to continue functioning as they do now.”
Earlier this year, Curtis addressed “predatory” parking enforcement in a blog post. In it, he discussed the private parking enforcement companies contracted by property owners. Currently, with the consent of property owners, contracted companies can tow or boot any vehicle violating parking rules within minutes of the parking violation.
“In essence we allow a towing company employee who makes 30 percent ($52.50) commission to decide that a car needs to be towed instead of the owner who is trying to carefully manage their property,” Curtis said.
A draft of the ordinance has been posted online, as well as a brief survey. Additionally, the council has held work sessions and council meetings with parking enforcement on the agenda and the issue has been covered extensively in local media.
Michael Lamont, president of University Parking Enforcement, feels that the amendment vote is representative only of the city’s interests, rather than those of the property owners.
“We feel like it violates property owner rights and we’re obviously against it and would like to see it postponed to a time where there could be a community meeting or something to express to the mayor how this violates rights,” Lamont said. “We’re still kinda just taken back by the way that this has morphed into what it is now from all the work that’s been done on this.”
Lamont said he has attended the work meeting, the last city council meeting and looked at the survey. He agreed with the council’s decision in the last meeting to add a clause to the ordinance that would require a higher standard of proof, such as video recordings, that the violation occurred.
“I thought that would be a good standard to keep, just to allow the police department to verify actual violations without it becoming a ‘he-said, she-said’ type scenario,” Lamont said. “That was changed in the ordinance, and all of this other stuff I feel like is just restricting property owner rights to basically put parking enforcement in the hands of the mayor rather than the hands of the property owners to enforce their parking.”
He claims the amendment is the mayor’s response to complaints that his office has received, with little follow-up. For several years, University Parking Enforcement has recorded bootings and towings on video to prove violations, Lamont said, but has not been asked by the mayor to provide proof for defense.