The city of Marietta has been dealing with a comparable problem in recent years, although Marietta’s challenge would be better described as a “parking trap” and is of private origin, not public.
At issue is the parking lot behind the business at 27 Atlanta St. a block off Marietta Square. The city has been skirmishing for years with the lot’s owners, who have gained notoriety for their practice of having any car parked there without paying towed away immediately — seemingly as soon as the “offender” has walked around the corner.
Prior to December 2011, owner Robert Tillman was booting such vehicles (almost immediately) and charging a $125 removal fee. At that point, the council stepped in and capped the boot removal fee at $50. But the problems — and complaints — have continued.
The mayor and council say they have received numerous letters from irate people who have visited the Square or nearby businesses, parked in the lot in question and then been towed. They say signage at the lot is poor and they did not realize it was a private, “pay” lot. The result is the appearance of a “predatory” situation condoned by the council, they say.
Numerous similarly angry letters from visitors to our city have appeared through the years on the Editorial pages of this newspaper.
Tillman counters that he must act as he does in order to protect his property rights.
“We only have 23 spaces in that parking lot and everyone wants to park there,” Tillman said.
Nonetheless, the Council voted unanimously — and correctly — last week to set a maximum towing fee of $125, with no additional fees allowed during the first 24 hours after a vehicle is towed. Of equal or greater significance, the council gave the green light for the Downtown Marietta Development Authority to put up signs along the sidewalk by the lot warning motorists they run the risk of being towed if they park in the lot.
Hopefully, the signs will do the trick and alert drivers to the potential pitfalls of parking in the lot in question without permission. And if they do not, the council should address the issue again.