Mar 14, 2024 - News

Bill proposes new regulations for booting industry in Georgia

a booting device locked on the wheel of a vehicle

The Georgia Senate Public Safety Committee passed a bill that would regulate the booting industry in the state. Photo: Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A proposal to regulate booting in Georgia is closer to being considered by state lawmakers, as the Senate Public Safety Committee passed a bill that would impose new rules on the industry.

Why it matters: Booting is used by many businesses and property owners around Atlanta to limit who can park in their lots to keep that space free for their customers.

  • Parking in an unauthorized location can turn what would have been a fun night on the town into a stressful situation.

The latest: House Bill 119, introduced by Sen. Josh McLaurin (D-Sandy Springs), would ban property owners or businesses from hiring companies to automatically monitor parking lots.

  • Instead, they would be required to call the companies in each instance of an illegally parked car.
  • It also prohibits a person from paying a property owner for the right to boot or tow a vehicle from that property.

What they're saying: McLaurin introduced legislation last year that would have banned booting altogether, but said a lot of people had reservations and "they wanted to have more of a conversation."

  • This year's bill, which he called a compromise, would regulate booting the same way the state regulates towing.
  • "There comes a point where the basic duties of property ownership cannot be compromised on the backs of consumers who get booted routinely for reasons they don't understand," McLaurin said.

Of note: HB 119 was originally introduced to address passing stationary vehicles, but McLaurin said language from that bill was added to other legislation that already passed the General Assembly, thus allowing him to offer his bill as a substitute

The other side: Two state senators and several property owners and parking company representatives expressed opposition to the bill.

  • Eric Borders, president of the Wheat Street Charitable Foundation, which owns 300,000 square feet of commercial and residential space adjacent to The King Center, said maintaining parking spaces for his customers is "critical to our business."
  • "It's the lifeblood of what we do to keep our operations running," he said of parking enforcement.
  • "I just think we have local elected officials that may be better fit to handle this than us," said State Sen. Timothy Bearden (R-Carrollton).

Zoom in: Several cities across Georgia, including Atlanta, have ordinances in place that regulate booting.

  • Atlanta's ordinance, which went into effect in 2018, requires property owners to create clear signage about the parking policy, caps fines at $75, and provides clear identification for representatives of booting companies.

Context: The booting industry's practices were brought back into the spotlight last year when the Boot Girls in Buckhead began advertising their services of using a key to remove a boot from a customer's vehicle for a fee.

The intrigue: The Atlanta Police Department said last year that it does not get involved with booting unless a criminal issue happens.

  • Owning a boot key isn't illegal, but Atlanta police said a person could be charged with criminal trespass, theft of service, theft by taking or damage to property if they use a boot key to remove an immobilization device.

What's next: The bill now moves to the Senate floor for consideration.


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