Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg begins booting parking scofflaws

ST. PETERSBURG

Imagine leaving the office, a restaurant or even a Rays game to discover that your car has been immobilized by an unyielding metal contraption fastened to a wheel.

Prepare for that probability if you have three or more unpaid parking tickets in the city of St. Petersburg. The city has begun clamping the wheels of recalcitrant parking violators.

Two vehicles have already been snagged by the new booting program, targeting vehicles with outstanding tickets between Fifth avenues N and S and 16th Street to Tampa Bay.

James Connell of 13980 Lake Point Drive, Clearwater, owned one of those vehicles. According to the city, he quickly handed over $1,985 and got the boot removed.

Jonathan Fairchild, whose car was also booted Friday, did not pay his $375 in outstanding tickets within 24 hours and his vehicle was towed. But by Tuesday afternoon, Fairchild, who according to the city lives at 201 Fifth St. S, had paid up and retrieved his car.

The two booted vehicles and the tickets they accumulated represent a fraction of the scores of tickets that have gone unpaid. They now total about $1.5 million, said Richard Bulger, the city's director of billing and collections.

Scofflaws are being given fair warning.

"Every ticket gets three notices and once you have more than three tickets, a final letter is sent letting you know that you could be booted after 10 days,'' Bulger said.

The three booting devices will be installed by city employees during business hours and removed by them after the tickets and $25 boot removal fee have been paid, Bulger said. Booted vehicles will be towed after 24 hours, which will mean an additional cost for owners, he said.

The new punitive program angers Matthew David Neal, owner of Cafe Bohemia at 937 Central Ave. He ranks No. 5 on the city's "Top 10'' parking ticket offender list, which shows vehicle owners owing from $2,535 to $8,405.

Neal is furious about parking problems downtown.

"I'm open from 8 a.m. to midnight, six days a week, a block and a half from the baseball stadium, and there's no way to negotiate parking when there's a ball game,'' he said.

"If they want to promote local business, they need to promote free parking. My employees all have parking ticket bills with the city —not as bad as mine.''

At first he paid his tickets, said Neal, who has owned his restaurant for 7 1/2 years.

"The first year I was open, I paid the city about $1,100,'' he said.

Once, he sent a check for $300, but the city said it never received it, the money was taken out of his account and was not credited to his outstanding tickets, Neal said.

Things got out of hand when a death in his family forced him to leave town for a few days. He racked up more tickets.

"I talked to several people in the parking department, and they couldn't work anything out with me,'' he said.

Still, with 51 tickets and owing $3,268.50, Neal said he is not worried about the booting program. He has sold his car.

Friday, the day the booting program began, Fairchild's modest white car, parked at Fifth Street S and Second Avenue S, sported an eye-catching, bright yellow clamp.

"Warning! Your car has been immobilized,'' a notice pasted to the driver's window read.

It gave two numbers for the owner to call to arrange for the device to be removed. During business hours, drivers can take care of the problem at the city's parking citation office at Third Street N and Central Avenue. After hours and on weekends, they have to call Tri-J, a towing company.

"Tri-J is authorized to accept payment via credit card for our tickets,'' Bulger said. "The owner of a vehicle will need to pay by cash or business check for towing costs and storage costs.''

Drivers shouldn't try removing the contraption on their own. Special tools are needed, Bulger said.

Damaging a boot will mean paying its replacement cost — about $525 — plus that stack of tickets.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at wmoore@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2283.

St. Petersburg begins booting parking scofflaws 04/25/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 5:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Three students arrested over BB gun at Brandon middle school

    Crime

    BRANDON — McClane Middle School was put on lockdown Tuesday after the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office received social media reports of a gun on campus, the agency said.

    McLane Middle School in Brandon. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  2. Bill Nelson: Confederate statues belong in museum

    Blogs

    A day after saying decisions on Confederate monuments should be left to "communities," Sen. Bill Nelson changed his stance:

  3. Missouri governor halts man's execution after DNA questions

    Nation

    ST. LOUIS — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens halted Tuesday's scheduled execution of condemned killer Marcellus Williams after DNA raised questions about his guilt.

    This February 2014 photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Marcellus Williams. [Missouri Department of Corrections via AP]
  4. Suspect in robbery of Brandon woman, 86, has been arrested more than 40 times

    Crime

    BRANDON — One spring day in 2012, Marcus Wayne Hunt walked out the of Orient Road jail a free man after posting bail on a charge of fleeing from police and driving without a license

    This surveillance photo shows Marcus Hunt, 28, pointing a gun at an 86-year-old woman as she unloaded groceries from her car parked at her Brandon home on Monday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Hunt fled in the Toyota Corolla and was arrested shortly after midnight Tuesday. 
[Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Killings put spotlight on possible neo-Nazi threat

    Nation

    TAMPA — The friendship of the four young roommates — though cemented in the dark trappings of an obscure neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division — never seemed destined for bloodshed.

    This undated photo provided by Kianna Kaizer, shows  Jeremy Himmelman and his girlfriend Kianna Kaizer. Himmelman was fatally shot along with his friend Andrew Oneschuk, 18, by a roommate in the Tampa apartment the men all shared.  [AP photo]