Anti-booting bill clears House committee

A bill aimed at ending what critics call the shadowy practice of “booting” cars and trucks won approval Tuesday in the Louisiana House Transportation Committee.

House Bill 929 would require those who attach mechanical, disabling devices to a vehicle to have a written contract with the owner of the private property.

The site also would have to have at least two signs that comply with parish or municipal rules, including the name of the property owner, hours when parking is banned and fees charged to have the device removed.

State Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, sponsor of the bill, said the law is needed because people are attaching boots to vehicles with no accountability.

“These individuals are predators,” Badon told the panel. “They wait for individuals to park.”

The bill won approval in the House Transportation Committee without objection.

It next faces action in the full House.

State Rep. Ebony Woodruff, D-Harvey, said she recently parked in an area off Poydras Street, returned about 9 p.m. and found a boot on her vehicle.

“There was no information on who he worked for,” Woodruff said.

“He said it was $150,” she said. “I paid him in cash.”

State Rep. Johnny Guinn, R-Jennings, said while he had reservations about Badon’s proposal “you want to eliminate the Mexican-style fleecing on citizens around New Orleans.”

Badon’s bill would require those who boot vehicles on private property to meet parish or municipal licensing requirements.

Signs on the restricted property also would have to information on the booting firm, including name, address, business telephone number and business license number.

Fees to remove the disabling device could not exceed amounts listed on the sign.

Operators would also have to furnish motorists with a signed receipt upon payment.

Badon said the practice is so sophisticated that boot operators sometimes tell motorists the location of the nearest ATM.

Payment for removal of the devices are usually cash only.

“There is no recourse,” he said. “There is no due process.”

Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, said women are especially vulnerable to those who attach a disabling device to the wheel or tire of a vehicle.

“All you want to do is get in your car and move forward,” Norton said.

State Rep. Chris Leopold, R-Port Sulphur, a member of the committee, questioned whether the Legislature can pass a law governing parking on private property.

Rep. Dalton Honoré, D-Baton Rouge, called Badon’s measure vague and in need of more work.

Neither objected when HB929 won final approval.