A time and date will be announced shortly.
Tumlin said he is at a loss of what to do over the booting matter and wants to hear from business owners about that and other downtown parking problems.
“I can’t seem to find consensus on how to address the booting issue,” Tumlin said. “The heat of the complaints that come from our town visitors come in with the fact that it happens so quick, and I don’t think we could ever legislate that.”
The parking lot in question, which spans the rear of several businesses that front Atlanta Street, is operated by Bret Tillman. Tillman has told the City Council that his father, Bob Tillman, and several business partners own the lot and a nearby building that houses offices and an art studio. Tillman argues that there is a nearby parking lot where anyone can pay $5 to park, but that drivers would rather park in his lot for free. So he charges $125 minimum to remove the boot, and if the car remains in the parking lot longer than a few hours, he has it towed.
“We don’t want people parking in that lot,” Tillman said. “We have tenants that pay a lot of money every month to have that parking lot free and clear of illegal parkers so they and their family and their customers and their guests can park there. When Johnnie MacCracken’s customers and anybody else’s customers park there, it’s always a bunch of broken beer bottles and used condoms and dope baggies and all that kind of stuff out there in the parking lot. The owners of the building have to pay somebody to clean that up.”
Since booting is unregulated in the city, the Council voted in June to allow parking lot owners to charge a maximum of $125 to unboot the cars of those they “boot” for parking illegally on their property, but Tumlin vetoed the 4-3 vote, saying the fee was too high. He also objected to that fact that Councilman Philip Goldstein, whose family is one the largest downtown property owners, participated in the vote. Goldstein says he has cars that improperly park on his property towed, not booted.
Tumlin’s veto meant parking owners may continue to charge whatever fee they want.
Like Tumlin, Browning isn’t sure what to do about booting, although “I’ve had a ton of complaints at my office, and it’s not even on our property. It’s across the street.”
Browning advocates installing downtown parking meters that accept payment by way of credit card. Whether the city or DMDA controls the meter revenues doesn’t matter, as long as it goes to pay for a parking deck on the west side of the Square, he said.
Tumlin said he sees the advantages of installing meters for downtown parking.
“I favor it,” Tumlin said. “It gets us a source of revenue where we could have a bond issue to address everything from quiet zones to additional parking.”
Tumlin said he could support a deal that allows the DMDA to have the revenues from the parking meters for a new deck in exchange for giving the city the DMDA-owned Kennesaw House.
“I would like for the city to own the Kennesaw House because we have a lot of things that are dependent on the city that could be housed there,” Tumlin said.
Meanwhile, business owners such as Gary Leake of Johnnie MacCracken’s Pub and Phillip Duke of Lucky Draw Tattoo & Gallery say something must be done to stop Tillman from driving away their business.
Duke said during an adopt-a-pet festival earlier this month, Tillman booted 17 cars during a 9-hour period.
“First off they have cameras everywhere, and they watch you park and get out,” Duke said. “As soon as you break the corner, a kid runs out and boots your car.”
Then there’s the drain it takes on using police time, he said.
“They are there every day, two or three times, with very upset shoppers and patrons that have come back from a fine day shopping, eating, etc. to find that they were booted and now are too broke to spend a dime more at the Square,” Duke said.
Even pregnant women are not exempt. On July 4 Duke said he noticed a pregnant woman with a small child whose car had a flat tire.
“She pulled over beside the building on the street side, and while she was waiting for AAA they booted her,” he said.
In fact, Tillman said he’s had several pregnant women booted.
“Everyone’s treated equally,” Tillman said. “I can’t just let some people park there and some people not. It’s discrimination is what it is.”
Duke referenced the City Council’s unanimous approval on Oct. 12 to grant a special land use permit to Stacy Tillman, allowing her to operate a towing business on a quarter of an acre lot she’s leasing in the Commerce Park office complex off Fairground Street and the South Loop.
“So here is what’s going on now: If you get booted and do not get back in 30 minutes or so, they come tow you to their lot one mile away and charge you a tow fee, a boot fee and a lot fee and open up the space for another booting victim for their sneaky camera kid to catch and wrangle with his booting skills,” Duke said.
Both Duke and Leake say their problem is not with booting in and of itself, but that Tillman fails to display prominent signs warning people not to park there and fails to chain off the parking lot.
“The Tillmans want you to park there, and they make way more money this way,” he said.