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Monday, April 6, 2009

City's Rationale as To Why 'Bootings' of Delinquent Drivers Are Way Down: Beats the Hell Out of Us!

Posted By on Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 5:00 AM

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Last week, we noted that despite a doubling in the city's unemployment rate and a general paucity of surplus cash in folks' pockets, the number of immobilizing boots being placed on San Francisco cars has dropped precipitously.

This is counter-intuitive; you'd figure more folks would be letting the five outstanding parking tickets it takes to warrant a booting stack up on their desks in these troubled times. You'd also figure this would be a fairly easy steady source of revenue for the Department of Parking and Traffic (who have a license plate scanner that instantaneously tells them who's been naughty or nice).

So it was odd that the DPT's official explanation for a 20 percent drop in "bootings" from last year's total at this point in the year is, essentially, "Eh, whatever."

"We don't have any specific theories about why booting numbers are down," spokesman Judson True admits. The spokesman is willing to do something the decision-makers at the DPT can't be bothered to do, however, and that's make an intelligent guess.

True's first postulation is that a drop in bootings could be tied to an overall drop in tickets given out. And while this does not explain a 20 percent dip, it does make some logical sense. If Parking Control Officers are busting fewer vehicles, they'll be running license plate scans on fewer vehicles and discovering fewer cars eligible for the boot treatment.

Of course, this prompts questions about why fewer tickets are being given out in the first place. Again, DPT doesn't have a ready answer for that, but True thinks it may have something to do with recent augmentations in parking fines. The theory is, folks tend to be more careful about not getting busted if they're liable to pay more money. Perhaps so, but this all sounds a bit too neat for our liking (and the DPT has a vested interest in justifying that fine augmentation).

Interestingly, True notes that DPT has formulated a plan to nail parking ticket accumulators proactively, instead of the current method of happening across them during routine patrols. Parking Control Officers know the offenders' addresses and know their license plates -- so why not pay a visit, scour the surrounding blocks, and apply the boot? In addition to whatever revenue this kind of direct action could generate (and it's a $205 charge to have a boot removed), the notion that the city's retribution is swift and personal could goad scofflaws into paying up.

True -- who, humorously enough, once had his own car booted -- says the above plan is in the very early stages of discussion. It will be interesting to see who is president when that strategy is finally rolled out.

Photo   |   Strom Carlson

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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