Hump Day: Stop political pandering to these parking spot thieves

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

If I hear one more person whine about the booting of cars in downtown Moncton, I’m going to scream.

If you don’t know what booting is, it’s the placement of an immobilizing device on a vehicle that’s parked in a space that’s rented to someone else or parked in an unauthorized manner in a private parking lot. These lots could include churches, private parking lots, businesses, etc. When you arrive at your vehicle, you find the device attached to a wheel along with a note on your car telling you to call a number to have it taken off for a fee of around $100.

When did the world turn upside down and people who steal parking spaces that belong to other people become the victims? Can someone please explain that to me?

What’s next? Shoplifters demanding their rights because they had the munchies?

I realize it’s politically unpopular for candidates running for office to be for the boot. Yes, I understand that you’re supposed to publicly say they’re the most evil thing since Satan and they should be banned, etc.

Well, if boots should be banned, then so should city-issued parking tickets, too. If private property owners can’t control what happens on their own property by punishing violators, then the city should just do away with parking meters and give people the freedom to do what they want, too, i.e. not bother paying. Lay off all those pesky ticket-writers and improve the city’s image in the world by not issuing parking tickets.

Makes sense, no? After all, one of the arguments against booting is that it’s damaging our image with outsiders.

Some of the hyperbole would practically have you believing that a special session of the United Nations was called to discuss this pressing international issue. Heck, we’re right up there with starvation and global warming.

I’ll tell you one thing, if I owned a private lot downtown and people were constantly parking there illegally, those cars would be booted into next week. I wouldn’t hesitate for one second. They’d be booted so fast that you’d feel the breeze.

And who cares if the guys and gals who are booting cars aren’t as friendly as the Welcome Wagon? They’re not supposed to be! Can you imagine the people they have to deal with? I swear, they’ve probably heard every excuse in the book.

And let’s be real. It doesn’t matter how big the signs are, people will tell you they didn’t see them. Queen Elizabeth herself could be at the entrance of a parking lot with her bloomers pulled up and ‘No parking!’ painted in neon orange on her royal buns and people would still claim they didn’t know they couldn’t park there. What, the massive RCMP security presence, half-dozen ladies-inwaiting, helicopters and television cameras didn’t tip you off ?

Everyone who drives has likely received a parking ticket at one time or another. People get caught up in meetings that go long and their meters run out. They’re in a new city and make an honest mistake and park where they’re not supposed to. They literally didn’t see a sign. But come on, whatever happened to taking personal responsibility?

The gall of people stealing parking spaces around here is quite simply astonishing. If you’re looking for pity from me, you won’t be getting any.

I’ve heard of church ministers resorting to having cars towed from their lots and getting screamed at by the perpetrators. ‘You’re just a church!’ Yeah, well you’re just a thief, so buzz off.

What are the alternatives to booting? How about the obvious: just stop parking where you’re not supposed to.

There’s basically no free parking right downtown unless you’re willing to walk a few blocks or are doing business at a specific place with parking.

Or how about the city working with private lot owners to develop some sort of ‘rapid response team’ to issue tickets to parking space thieves and sharing the revenue?

I don’t understand the fuss.

Would you rather get towed? I’d rather get booted. At least your car is still there and you don’t have to cab it or find your way to a remote compound to get your car back. Needless to say, you’d also save the heart palpitations from momentarily believing your car’s been stolen. Realistically, though, towing in some of those tightly packed private lots would be very difficult and possibly damaging to the vehicle in question or others around it.

Then there are the ‘horror’ stories of people getting booted when they weren’t supposed to, i.e. cars with clearly displayed valid parking permits are getting booted. Well, mistakes will happen – and from what I’ve heard, the boots are simply removed and nothing is owed. (Note to booting companies: You’re not doing yourselves any favours by making these silly mistakes.)

Again, I understand that candidates are not likely going to put the fact that they’re in favour of booting on their election pamphlets, but let’s all stop the nonsense that it’s somehow damaging our city’s reputation. Give me a break, will you? Illegally parked cars are getting punished, the same thing that happens in every other municipality in North America. Whether it’s a fine or getting towed or booted it’s all the same.

Let’s stop this silliness and deal with real issues. And let’s stop glorifying and pandering to people who get caught stealing others’ spaces and then crying about it.

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