Boot compromise deal with $ 30 fee increase stalls
Price- gouging concerns shelve 21% increase
Price- gouging concerns on Wednesday derailed a plan to empower private booters roaming free in more than half of Chicago’s 50 wards to raise boot removal fees by $ 30 in exchange for stiffer regulations.
The trade- off was championed by Ald. Proco Joe Moreno ( 1st) and embraced by the Emanuel administration to bolster consumer protection in response to chronic complaints and confrontations over the years.
Those protections would require the city’s four private booters to:
Remove the boot at no charge if the owner returns to the lot before the boot is fully applied.
Register each location where the company is operating and pay a $ 100 fee for each site.
Put their employees in uniforms and train them on boot installation and removal.
Offer a 24- hour hotline accessible to consumers with questions and complaints.
“While a provision to increase the removal fee [ from $ 140 to $ 170] is included, we feel this is a fair compromise with the industry to achieve some of the more stringent consumer protections,” said Barbara Gressel, deputy commissioner of the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
Aldermen did not agree. Their concerns about the 21 percent increase prompted the City Council’s Committee on License and Consumer Protection to shelve the ordinance for now.
“I don’t see where we need to increase this amount — and give a boon to these guys,” said Ald. Scott Waguespack ( 32nd). “There’s no proof here that they need that increase. And based on the number of boots that we’ve heard about, it seems like the business is popping.”
Ald. John Arena ( 45th) questioned whether the cost of the training, uniforms and background checks would be passed along to employees who are “pretty much minimumwage” workers.
“If they’re taking that cost on, I’d be more sympathetic to the increase in the fee. But how much are [ they] putting onto the employee?” Arena said.
Michael Denigras, owner of Innovative Parking Solutions, portrayed the $ 30 increase as a drop in the bucket compared with his sky- high costs. He denied he’s in line for a windfall.
“I have to pay them way over the minimum wage. Nobody wants to work for me when they can work for McDonald’s at minimum wage and not take that abuse,” Denigras said.
Aldermen shelved a plan to hike fees for private booters.