Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Wrightsville Beach strengthens immobilization policy after resident overcomes attempted booting

An edit to a Wrightsville Beach ordinance removed “illegal parking” as a stipulation to immobilize devices with boots or wheel clamps, and now allows citations to be written for cars that have three outstanding parking tickets. (Port City Daily/File)

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — After Wrightsville Beach resident Greg Buscemi awoke last month to find his vehicle booted within the lines of a public parking space, he fought against the citation by claiming it violated the town’s own rules — and won. 

An attorney who unsuccessfully ran for beach town mayor in 2021 and 2019, Buscemi argued the town code only permitted the immobilization of vehicles if two conditions are met: The car in question must have at least three unpaid parking tickets (which his did) and also must be parked illegally (which his was not).

Wielding the fact his car was clearly parked in a lined space, and was therefore ineligible to be booted, Buscemi successfully had the ticket dismissed and the boot removed from his car, according to WECT

Now, the town has edited its booting-related ordinance to ensure that future disputes will not end the same way. 

Last week, the board of aldermen amended its vehicle immobilization ordinance to make having three unpaid parking tickets for a period of more than 72 hours the only prerequisite before an individual’s car can be booted. The provision that said cars must also be “illegally parked” has been removed. 

The edits to the ordinance were placed on the consent agenda, which is the collection of items voted on without discussion near the beginning of public meetings. 

“The proposed change to the ordinance would allow for a vehicle to be immobilized with 3 or more outstanding citations regardless of whether the vehicle is illegally parked in violation of the Town’s ordinance or not,” according to the Dec. 8 board of aldermen agenda.

Town Manager Tim Owens told Port City Daily there have been about “six or eight” bootings since the updated policy went into effect. 

“We found out there was sort of a loophole in the ordinance, and wanted to make sure we had the ability to collect against people that had more than three tickets,” Owens said.

WECT reported in November the boot on Buscemi’s car was administered not long after he spoke out against the town’s parking program for a joint Port City Daily-WECT report on the origin and ascendance of Pivot Parking. The year-old firm comprised former execs from a major competitor and recently secured lucrative contracts with local governments across southeastern N.C.  

READ MORE: Lawsuits fly as upstart company inks parking management deals with local towns

“Basically, if you’ve got three or more citations, you’re eligible for a boot,” Owens said. 

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