Giving the boot

If actually enacted, the city of Durango’s new policy of booting vehicles after one unpaid parking ticket could prove unproductive. After all, one sure way to avoid being booted is not to go downtown, at least during the day. Officials may want to consider whether giving people a reason to shop or dine elsewhere is worth any additional revenue the parking policy might generate.

Current city policy, in effect until August, is to boot cars after three unpaid parking tickets that are at least 20 days old. Under the new policy, the city will notify a car’s owner 28 days after a parking ticket is issued that it is about to be put on the boot list. After 34 days, the vehicle will be placed on the list to be booted.

At the same time, the cost of parking tickets – and parking – has gone up. In January, parking on Main Avenue went to $1 per hour for meters that accept credit cards and to a uniform 75 cents per hour on side streets. A parking ticket now costs $12, a 33 percent increase. Fines now go to $24 after eight days, and $48 after 30 days.

Add the $50 fee to get the boot taken off, and a single parking ticket could cost $98. Throw in the cost and inconvenience of losing the use of the car for however long it takes to straighten things out with the city, and getting booted gets rather pricey.

And all that for one instance of overtime parking?

(As to what Aspen or Telluride charge, remember what mom said when told “Everybody’s doing it.”)

The city’s current policy is more understandable. It is hard to imagine a scenario in which someone could accumulate three unpaid parking tickets accidentally or without knowing it. Three or more unpaid tickets and a person could be considered a scofflaw.

But anyone can forget one thing or one date. Any number of situations could explain something like that – travel, family or business commitments, simple forgetfulness.

As a letter to the editor (Herald, June 12) pointed out, effectively seizing a vehicle worth thousands of dollars and necessary to modern life over a single unpaid parking ticket seems to fit the Fourth Amendment’s meaning of “unreasonable.” It is certainly disproportionate.

And it does Durango no good for drivers to have that on their mind when considering where to shop or have lunch.

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