BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Some private parking lots are putting boots on people's cars for unpaid parking tickets, and frustrated drivers want to know if that's even legal.
If it has been a while since you parked in a private lot downtown, you might be wondering: where have all the parking tenants gone? They are giving way to automation as parking lot owners seem to be getting leaner and meaner when it comes to collecting their money.
Lou Cirulli said, "So we had a front boot right here on this wheel. We also had a boot on the rear wheel, here."
Professional magician Cirulli says he found a wheel lock, also known as a boot, on his rear wheel and a second one on the front after a performance at the Tralf. Cirulli was parked in a "Pay 2 Park" lot and it cost him $100 to get the boots removed, even though he actually did pay that night.
"From what they told us, there was previous tickets that I know nothing about. Those still have to paid," said Cirulli.
Cirulli said those unpaid tickets were years old. Wheel locks are being used as a collection tool for downtown parking lot owners and these booths are replacing parking lot attendants. The transition is also affecting downtown businesses, like Melanie's Desserts next to the Tralf, where Sam Lamastra says they are paying in advance and getting a monthly sticker to put inside their windshield.
Lamastra said, "Before you could park anytime. Now by 6:00 at night you have to move your car or it's going to be tagged and towed. That is what we were told."
The new system might be great for the parking lot owners, but drivers miss the attendants.
"A parking lot where they have always had an attendant, and he would always collect for the parking. Now there's nobody there and it's an honor system. And if you don't catch the sign as you come in, you are in trouble," said Lamastra.
And if you don't have money to remove the boot, the cost goes up by the day. So what if you have enough money to park, but not to remove the boot?
Cirulli said, "If I did not have a credit card and I didn't have the cash on me. Because who carries cash on them nowadays? It would have run up the bill even more."
A number of legal experts agreed that booting at private parking lots is legal.
State Police need your help finding a missing woman last seen leaving M&T Bank on Main Street in Clarence this past Monday.
Police in Lockport say they have taken action after a threat was posted on a social media site from a student threatening to bring a gun to North Park School.
State Police are thanking News 4 viewers for helping them locate a man who allegedly hit a mother with his pickup truck as she loaded her two children into her vehicle and then fled the scene.
Lake Effect Snow Warnings today with the chance for an additional foot for some areas.
With dozens of anti-fracking activists packing the gallery, the Legislature voted to ban hydro-fracking in Erie County.
Nushawn Williams is still being held under the state's civil confinement law. He returned to court Thursday where a judge will soon rule on the type of restrictions Williams will face.