Overdue tickets? Vehicles ‘booted’

Jeremy Foster

Once upon a time, if your vehicle was cited for five parking violations, it was towed. But since then, car boots have been used by campus parking enforcement as a way of forcing drivers with multiple parking citations to pay up.

“Boots are actually a way to assist people who have let their citations go because before (the boots) were used the only option we had was to tow the car away,” said Sgt. Alfredo Fernandez, captain of the parking and transportation division of the University Police Department. “When your car is towed you pay for towing fees, plus you don’t have a car. This gives you an option of making a payment and we release the car once you make the payment.”

Boots, in use snce 2004 and otherwise known as vehicle immobilizers, are locks that wrap around the tire of a vehicle, thus preventing the owner from driving away.

Having your car booted by CSUN parking enforcement means you have accrued five parking citations that are all 20 days past due. To have the boot taken off the vehicle, the owner must pay parking enforcement the fine for all of his or her citations. If they fail to pay within 24 hours, their vehicle is towed at the owner’s expense.

“I have on record a car that has 12 citations,” says Fernandez. “His last citation hasn’t gone 21 days so we won’t boot his car until that happens.”

Fernandez said parking enforcement boots, on average, two to three cars per week, but that number can spike during the first weeks of each semester as students try to buy their parking permits.

Some students think boots are a symptom of a bigger problem.

“I think this is unfair because sometimes citations are not paid because we simply cannot afford them,” said psychology major Melissa Zager. “They are just trying to get extra money.”

Twenty-year-old English major Ali Murtaza agrees.

“I absolutely do believe that it is because of the high prices that these citations are even necessary,” Murtaza said. “Who in their right mind would rather have a 35-dollar citation than buy a parking pass if it were only 30 dollars? Not to mention the authoritative, self-righteous parking police who choose to not even give students two weeks before they unbuckle their citation booklets off of their belts.

“Do you think it is fair to pay four dollars for parking, wait two hours for a permit, and then pay for that on top of it all?” he said.

Other students oppose boots, but for different reasons.

“I’d rather they tow it than kill a potential spot for my car,” said junior finance major David Levine. “If enforcement has the option between booting the car and taking up a space I could have had, and towing it away, I’d rather they tow it. I pay for my permit and shouldn’t have to suffer just because someone else doesn’t.”

Fernandez said parking enforcement is not looking to boot people’s cars but oftentimes it is the only way to get people to comply with parking regulations.