If you’re new to Richmond, there’s one thing you need to know about the city: You will get a parking ticket at some point.
A new school year means new students will try their luck at parking on campus, which is both highly congested and highly regulated. Don’t panic if you see a green slip tucked under your windshield. It’s easy to take care of with a credit card and internet access. But what happens if you don’t settle your debt with the city?
Senior business major Nick Matthews learned the hard way. Matthews found a boot on his tire after failing to pay nine parking tickets on time. When a boot is placed on your vehicle, you have to pay a fee and all of your outstanding tickets to have it removed. It was a costly consequence that Matthews was not happy about.
“I think the system of booting makes some sense,” Matthews said. “But why there is a boot fee doesn’t… What really pisses me off is that if you don’t pay it in 24 hours you get
towed, which is another $85 with additional charges for each day the car is impounded.”
A city ordinance in 2007 declared that parking attendants can boot all cars with three or more outstanding parking tickets. Booting is done via a van equipped with an electronic scanner that reads license plate information, or by a parking attendant who has noticed a high number of unpaid tickets. A car owner must pay off all of their outstanding tickets and $60 fee in order to have the boot removed.
If the fee is not paid, the car is towed and the owner has to pay the standard holding fees of the impound lot that the vehicle is towed to.
Sharon North, a spokesperson for the City of Richmond Department of Public Works said booting is a last resort, one the city hopes it doesn’t have to go to.
“Our number one agenda isn’t putting boots on cars, it is getting back the money from all of the unpaid tickets. We have new, sturdier boots, and we have noticed an increase in people showing up to pay their tickets since we adopted them and since we launched an awareness campaign in April,” North said.
When parking on the street, North said paying attention to the parking restrictions is the only way drivers can avoid being ticketed.
Boots are the long-term consequence of illegal parking, but even a few moments in the wrong place can lead to a ticket.
Evan Novak, a 2012 VCU graduate, was ticketed after leaving his car parked on Harrison Street overnight.
“I got a ticket for being parked 15 feet away from a crosswalk. I took photos of the incident and then photos of 30 cars doing the same thing as me, but without a ticket. Even after all of that, the judge made me pay my ticket,” Novak said.
Tickets can be appealed by contacting the City of Richmond online, by phone or in person.
At the beginning of the year, the city installed new parking meters around the Temple building as part of an initiative by VCU and the city of Richmond to encourage students to buy parking passes. The meter price was also raised in July from 50 to 75 cents per hour.
Parking deck rates for VCU lots and decks were also raised in July. Rob Maroney, director of VCU Parking and Transportation, said the increases were made to keep the school on track for a payment plan.
“Right now, the decks are on a subsidized payment rate. The goal is to pay back that subsidy and make parking lots and decks fully owned by VCU,” Maroney said.
He also said there is only one way for a student to avoid getting a ticket or boot.
“The number one mistake a new student can make when parking on campus is not getting a pass for a VCU lot or deck. A lot of students like to risk it on the street, but the city is very aggressive with their enforcement,” he said.
Dana Carlson contributed reporting to this story.
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