It was about a month ago when I first reported on FOX 26 news how some Houstonians found themselves coughing up more than $100 to get their cars freed from local downtown parking lots. This comes as Central Parking Systems and other private parking companies began hiring Atlanta based contractors to boot cars who have failed to pay or the clock has run out on. It’s an issue that has bothered Houston City Councilman Michael Berry. He’s researching to determine if private companies can place boots on cars at lots in downtown Houston. But it’s a question Liliana Rambo and the city’s parking commission has already answered. They tell the Insite they have little control over private parking lots. Here’s the statement from the commission’s spokesperson Ted Bowen:

The City does not have jurisdiction over private parking lots. The Public Parking Commission takes this issue very seriously and is looking into what can be done. The reality is that changes may have to come from Austin, where the tow industry is a powerful lobby.

Meanwhile, The Insite was at a local parking lot in downtown Houston Tuesday where a prominent Houstonian came outside to find her car booted in a Central controled parking lot outside of HPD. I snapped some pictures and the boot guy asked why was I taking pictures. He went on to say the woman was lucky because he only charges $30 per boot while another booter on Fannin in the downtown area charges $100 plus another $30 fee. I had a FOX viewer to email me and disclose the same figures. It has a lot of people on nerve who have claimed they
were booted even after paying.

Just Monday I was outside of the Midtown Greyhound station when I noticed a booter sitting quietly in between two parked Greyhound buses waiting for someone to walk away without paying. It was disturbing at best. So I decided to approach the booter but he pulled out of the lot and left.

This new booting system is becoming a real issue for people in downtown Houston. It actually scares me as someone who drives and parks downtown all the time. I know there will be several people who say I’m overreacting about this issue but it won’t matter to you until you’re coughing up $130 or more before you realize just how unfair the new boot system can be to some folk. The obvious comment will be just pay for your parking. However, I have received emails from
people who say they’ve paid but still were booted. There have actually been police officers who have forced the booters to remove the restraints from individuals cars because they feel private entities don’t have that right. But once again, I make it clear the city of Houston’s Parking Commission says there are no rules or restrictions to prohibit private companies from putting a boot on your car.

It has become clear to me what I will do when I travel to downtown Houston, I’m carrying a hacksaw to cut the boot off if I get one. I will never pay $130 for failing to pay a $6 parking fee or because someone decides to place one on just because they want to make extra money. It doesn’t make good business sense. I know I will get attacked but coughing up the amount of a utility bill or insurance payment for the price of parking will never fly in my book.

The head of Central Parking Systems tells The Insite it’s just part of doing business. He says it’s a private business and his company has every right to collect its fees from those who fail to pay!