Buffalo to crack down on parking lot ‘predatory booting’

Local News


The Buffalo Common Council is taking steps to crack down on what is known as “predatory booting.” That is when you can’t drive your car because someone slapped on a wheel lock, which is sometimes called a Denver boot.

City regulations put a limit on how much towing companies can charge for tows or to remove a wheel lock from your car. It is $75.

But city lawmakers say they are getting complaints of towing companies charging as much as $150 to remove a boot, and on occasion drivers are forced to pay cash.

While commercial parking lots in Buffalo are regulated, private lots–such as those for apartment complexes and private businesses–are not regulated the same way.

In a public hearing at City Hall Tuesday, Amanda Lawrence of Buffalo told a Council committee that even though she was paying to park in a private lot, a Buffalo towing company booted her car anyway.

Then after paying $150 to get the boot removed, she could not get a receipt to show she was entitled to a refund of the booting charge, “I have no proof that I compensated them to remove the boot from my vehicle.”

The attorney for one of the towing companies in question, Lightning Towing tried to assure the Council they do issue receipts when requested.

In an exchange with Council President Darius Pridgen, attorney Corey Auerbach of Barclay Damon LLC denied Lightning Towing charges $150 to remove a boot, and when Pridgen asked about the receipts, Auerbach answered, “Generally they do give receipts, yes.”

The Common Council is looking for ways to beef up the city’s regulations on tow companies, and the use of wheel locks, such as requiring receipts–even if they are not requested–and posting signs showing the charges for removing a boot.

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