Parking has become a “hot button issue” for Buffalo drivers, and suburban commuters who come into the city for business and entertainment.
Drivers are often shocked at how much the cost of parking in private lot can vary from one hour to the next, and the posted prices can be confusing.
Two Western New York lawmakers, Assemblyman Sean Ryan of Buffalo, and Assemblywoman Monica Wallace of Cheektowaga, are crafting legislation known as the Parking Protection Act, they are introducing in Albany.
Ryan said the measure would require clear posting of parking prices at the private lots to avoid bait-and-switch tactics, “You can look at all the signs you want, you have no idea what it is really going to cost you to park until you are in the lot, and then they switch the price on you.”
At many of these lots, if the driver does not pay the correct amount for parking, or the clock runs out, a lot attendant will disable the car with a wheel lock, sometimes called a “Denver boot”, and have it towed.
Ryan compared the practice to extortion, “We want to just get rid of the boot. We think the boot is really being abused. A boot will cost an operator $300, and boy they make a lot more than $300 on there.”
Even though Wallace represents Cheektowaga, she gets complaints from her constituents who feel they are getting fleeced when they park in Buffalo.
“You come out and you find that there is a boot on your vehicle or your vehicle is missing, and now it is going to cost you hours of time to track your vehicle down, or to get somebody to unboot your vehicle, and also hundreds of dollars to get that remedied.”
Wallace and Ryan said fellow lawmakers at the State Capitol tell them about the same problems with private parking lots in other cities across the state, and Ryan said the Buffalo parking operators he has talked to seem to be in favor of it.