DAN'S PAPERS, June 12, 2009 Page 22 www.danshamptons.com (continued from page 19)
realize two blocks away that he had also broken his foot. Another time, a woman who got her car booted pleaded with the attendant to let her go in exchange for a bank check. She didn’t have the cash. She told the attendant her elderly mother, who used a walker, was waiting for her on a street corner two blocks away in the hot sun, but the attendant would have none of it. What followed involved both police and an ambulance. It was terrible. Since the practice of booting cars was introduced to the Hamptons 10 years ago by an enterprising police officer who became a partner in a firm that engaged in that practice — he is now the chief of police in East Hampton – I have been a strong opponent of it. It is dangerous, unAmerican, obnoxious and unfriendly to motorists. It may be true that it is perfectly legal to do this sort of thing on private property. A man’s home is his castle. But then it is also legal on private property to hire people with sledgehammers to destroy automobiles that overstay the two hours. And it may also be legal to have a legally purchased rifle on your property, so that you can shoot motorists as they return to their cars. They have crossed the line into criminal trespass, after all. There are lots of rights you have on your own turf that you do not have on public streets. But if I were mayor of a village or town in these parts, I’d pass an ordinance banning these practices and take my chances with the courts anyway. Interestingly, you do not often see the booting people active in other towns or cities, particularly those that welcome visitors. You see towing people. There’s a certain finality about towing. People do understand it. Furthermore, besides the hostage situation and the cash-only policy, it is clear to everyone that paying these kids $12 an hour to walk around locking steel boots on cars that require a cough up of $170 for a few minutes work is highway robbery. Somebody is making out like a bandit. It is perfectly understandable, as Joe Guerrera
of the very popular Citarella supermarket chain points out, that he wants only his customers to be able to park in his private lot. I know a restaurant on a busy street in San Francisco that has that policy. It has big signs in the lot that read PARKING ONLY FOR CUSTOMERS WHILE ENJOYING SAM’S BURGERS. CAR WILL BE TOWED IF YOUR CAR IS LEFT HERE AFTER YOUR MEAL. That’s clear enough. A sign that just says there is a two-hour limit before the roof falls in is another category entirely, particularly if it’s not time for the roof to fall in. Another way of doing this would be to post a young man under an umbrella at a stand at the entrance to the lot with a sign on the stand reading something similar to the above. Or, if they still want to continue with this utterly obnoxious booting practice, the sign would have to read LEAVING THE PREMISES WILL RESULT IN A BOOT PLACED ON YOUR CAR TIRE. $50 FEE FOR REMOVING THE BOOT. Fifty bucks is about the maximum to get some idiot to come over to turn a key. And there’s no need for TWO HOUR LIMIT. Without those words, it makes it clear the lot is to be used only while you are there. Police Chief Gerard Larsen, who has sold his interest in the booting company (for $100 billion?) was asked for a comment about what happened at that lot the other day and had this to say: “No charges were pressed. So it is not a police matter.” It’s really a matter for the mayor. This practice is a clear danger to the health of the community. It can’t go on.
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men. But when she walked toward the car, the young man in it saw her with the camera, got out, told her she couldn’t do that and tried to slap the camera out of her hand. Instead, he knocked her hand and the camera up into her eye, injuring her. She knew she would soon have a black eye. Reingold then did call the police. When they arrived, she told them what happened and showed them her eye already turning black. The young men told their side of the story about what happened, and then the police offered to charge the young man who had hit her with assault. By this time, Reingold had calmed down, and on further consideration said she didn’t want to get this young man in trouble. All she really wanted was the boot removed so she could go back home. She offered a compromise. Remove the boot without the cash and no charges will be filed. One of the young men called a far off supervisor to see if that would be acceptable, got the okay and went around the car to remove the boot. Reingold left. She has since filed a lawsuit against the owner of the property, Ben Krupinski, against Citarella, and the gym, which, if she had gone there rather than to her office off the property, this probably would never have happened. This sure is one sorry story. But it is among many that involve the practice of booting cars to hold them hostage until whopping fines are paid to get them released. The practice began 10 years ago. One story involved the late raconteur George Plimpton. When he saw that his ancient 20-yearold Plymouth got booted in one of these lots, he simply walked away, telling the young attendant to keep it. It wasn’t worth the requested ransom. There have been others who have gone into rages at having their cars booted. The owner of a music store in Sag Harbor, booted in East Hampton, got so angry he actually kicked the steel boot with such force that the boot broke and clanked to the ground. He then drove off, only to
Published on Jun 12, 2009
Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...