Booting to stay in Rexburg but with restrictions

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REXBURG – The booting issue is finally being put to bed. At least, for now.

The City Council recently adopted an ordinance that allows for booting to continue with some restrictions and guidelines for booting, parking enforcement companies and apartment owners.

Previously, these companies were required to obtain a license from the city to boot or tow. They are still required to do so under the new ordinance, but they must also obtain photo identification for all employees engaged in booting or towing.

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“The bottom line to it is that booting will be allowed,” Rexburg Mayor Jerry Merrill told EastIdahoNews.com. “But there are some conditions in there that help apartment owners to be able to manage it better, to make sure, a little bit more, that folks aren’t being taken advantage of by anyone.”

Booters are only permitted to charge a removal fee in the amount shown on parking signage. They must also immediately release the vehicle upon payment or if directed to do so by a law enforcement officer who has determined the existence of a disputed claim.

“If they (the person having been booted) have a very legitimate complaint that they’ve been booted wrongly then there’s an avenue for them to go into a civil complaint and go through the courts and plead their case before a judge,” Merrill said. “If they win, they win. If they lose, it costs them a lot of money.”

In July, Madison County Deputy Prosecutor Rob Wood told the City Council current booting laws were unenforceable and illegal in Idaho.

“Demanding payment for the removal of the boot is possibly attempted theft by extortion,” he said.

But Merrill said the new city ordinance is meant to be a “stop-gap measure” until the State Legislature can vote to change the current state statute that may not allow for booting — and Merrill believes that will happen.

“Folks need to be responsible and use common sense and park in the places where they’re supposed to park,” Merrill said. “As long as they’re doing that, they shouldn’t have any issues.”