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Rolly: Public parking woes? Private lots are no better

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Paul Rolly

By PAUL ROLLY

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jun 26 2014 02:14PM
Updated Jul 10, 2014 03:17PM

I wrote Wednesday about the various problems associated with the new kiosk parking enforcement system in Salt Lake City. But there is another menace facing unwitting visitors to businesses in the city: the private companies that prey on folks who park in strip malls and other lots with multiple businesses.

Two unsuspecting visitors to the strip mall lot at 700 East and 400 South found themselves in the crosshairs of such a business on May 29.

James Nelson parked in the lot to get a Jamba Juice when he saw a friend leaving the nearby Jimmy John’s deli and walked over to greet him.

After the chat, he decided to get a sandwich at Jimmy John’s to go with his Jamba Juice. As he walked toward Jamba Juice, however, he noticed a ticket on his car from Parking Solutions, Inc.

When Nelson asked the ticketer why buying something from one of the other stores in the lot was a sin worthy of a ticket, the man said if he kept complaining he would boot his car.

When Nelson complained over the phone to Parking Solutions, he was told the company would knock the $50 fine down to $40 if he paid right then with his credit card. If he didn’t pay within 14 days, the fine would jump to $70.

Victim Number Two: On the same day, Brent Baranko went to the same Jamba Juice to switch cars with his son, who works there. He was also tasked with picking up eight sandwiches from Jimmy John’s for a meeting.

He parked in a lot between the two establishments and began walking to Jamba Juice. He did not see his son’s car and figured he had not yet arrived for his shift, so he decided to pick up the sandwiches first. He turned around, passing his parked vehicle and walked to Jimmy John’s, stepping over what he thought was a barrier to prevent cars from moving from one lot to another.

He picked up the sandwiches within two minutes since they had been pre-ordered and were already paid for, but as he proceeded back to Jamba Juice, a young man was placing a parking ticket on his car. As he confronted the man, he was told he left the property so he was in violation of the parking rules.

Just like Nelson, when he called Parking Solutions to complain, he was told the $50 would be discounted to $40 if he paid right then.

He was told if he didn’t pay by June 12, the fine would go to $75 (there must have been a $5 inflation from the time of Nelson’s call to his call) and eventually would be turned over to collections.

Baranko says he asked to speak to a supervisor, but was told the supervisors couldn’t be bothered.

Another ticket trap: I have written in the past about the huge parking lot on the southeast corner of 900 East and 900 South that for years had signs saying the parking was just for Mutual Beauty Supply, even though there were other businesses there.

Folks parking in the lot would have their cars booted even if they had only been there for a couple of minutes before realizing the lot didn’t cover the businesses they were patronizing.

The booter, who did not wear a uniform or show any identification, would demand $80 on the spot to remove the boot.

Patrons often had to do their own investigations to discover the booter was from Hanson Securities, a private company.

One woman won a judgment in small claims court after she took pictures of the sign that said the lot was also for the Garden Gate candy store, which she had patronized.

Now, neighbors say, Mutual Beauty Supply has closed the business. Yet the signs still say the lot is for beauty supply customers only, even though the company doesn’t exist.

Those going to the Mazza restaurant or the Tower Theatre find that available parking on the street is limited. They are attracted to the huge lot, assuming since the business is closed it would be OK to park there.

But they still get booted the instant they park. And the lot itself is not maintained. In the winter, the sidewalk next to it goes unshoveled. In the summer, the parking strip is not watered or mowed, just an untended weed farm. The parking lot is crumbling and pot-holed.

But the booters are still lurking nearby.

prolly@sltrib.com

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