On July 5, at the Rexburg City Council meeting, Madison County Deputy Prosecutor Rob Wood gave a presentation regarding booting and the amending of booting ordinance 911.
Wood brought forth at the meeting that booting is explicitly illegal by the state of Idaho through Idaho Code 49-229.
Idaho Code 49-229 reads, “…any person who temporarily or permanently preventing (a vehicle’s) useful operation, or for any purpose against the will or without the consent of the owner of the vehicle…shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”
This means, starting July 21, those who remove their own boot will not be charged with a misdemeanor, but those who put on boots and apartment owners who issue boots will be charged.
Until that time, July 21, local law enforcement has the duty to enforce the law as it is.
In making his case, Wood laid out the alleged issues that come with booting. These issues range from the inconsistencies with community values to the infringement on property rights.
In his presentation to the city council, Wood said booting does not solve the problem when it comes to parking illegally.
According to State Code 49-1806 in regards to towing, “Any person having possession or control of real property who finds an unauthorized vehicle standing upon his property is permitted to have the vehicle removed.”
“We are looking at changing our ordinance to just say that we are turning that authority over to the land owners.”
– Mayor Jerry Merrill
Mayor Jerry Merrill in an interview with KBYI Radio said that if booting is outlawed and towing is put back in its place, the repercussions for students may be worse.
“No one likes to be booted, but wouldn’t you rather be booted than towed?” Merrill asked.
Council Member Chris Mann said at the city council meeting that this problem is not truly eliminated until it is signed off that apartment complexes can tow cars.
Merrill said that apartment complexes should have students sign a contract that gives permission for their cars to be booted if they park illegally.
In contracts for Edge Creek Apartment complexes, which includes La Jolla, Heritage, Nauvoo House and Central Park Apartments, it reads that tenants should understand that they have the responsibility to inform guest of parking requirements. The contract continues by saying the tenants should understand that if they, or their guest park illegally then they are at risk of being booted or towed.
Rexburg Housing also has similar regulations which states parking enforcement contractors are authorized boot or tow any vehicle that violates rules laid out in the contract.
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“From the city’s standpoint we’ve always felt like that this should be between the apartment owners/ managers and their tenants, and they are the ones that should manage their parking,” Merrill said. “We as the city don’t feel like we should be involved in their business, getting between them and the people who are parking there. We feel like that should be their business.”
Apartment managers are looking to start making changes.
Leah Flake, the manager at Greenbrier, Briarwood apartments and the Pincock, Chapman, Jacob’s and Whitfield houses, sent out an email to her tenants stating that “Due to a recent decision by the prosecutor of Rexburg, there will be no more booting in the parking lots. There will be towing instead of booting. Please make it a priority to keep your visitors from getting towed.”
The city council decided to end any further discussion on the topic until the entire city council could be present.
Merrill said the city plans to continue the discussion and see what other cities who still allow booting are doing.
“We are just trying to find our way and see,” Merrill said. “We don’t want to be doing something against Idaho Code.”
For the time being, Merrill encourages students who do not have a parking permit for certain locations to not park there.
“At some point in time, we all need to grow up and realize that we can’t just do what we want sometimes because it’s more convenient,” Merrill said.
Merrill said choices do have consequences and when people make that choice (parking in unauthorized spots) they may have to face the consequences (being booted or towed).
“We are looking at changing our ordinance to just say that we are turning that authority over to land owners,” Merrill said.
Merrill said booting began to help students out with a cheaper alternative to towing and less of a hassle, but now we are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
“If we take (booting) away, it could actually be worse than better,” Merrill said.
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