Beware the dreaded boot |

Beware the dreaded boot

John Colson
Julia Penny explains her frustration that her car was booted recently in the Miner's Building alley. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

Parking scofflaws, beware.If you’re even thinking of poaching that private parking space in the alley, whether for a quick tour of downtown shops or a lunchtime meeting with friends, you might regret it – to the tune of an unexpected $80 outlay.Julia Penny knew all about Britt Queer and his infamous “boot,” having encountered both at least once before in her 17 years of living in Aspen.But she parked behind the Miner’s Building anyway around noon Jan. 26, expecting to zip in and out of the store without violating the 30-minute limit on the half-dozen private spaces along the alleyway, which are announced by two large signs on either side of the parking area.Penny maintains she came out of the Miner’s Building after only a few minutes and found her vehicle was blocked by two delivery trucks sitting side by side. A driver told her they’d be gone within minutes, she recalled, so she went to visit some friends who own a nearby business.

When she returned, she said, the trucks were gone, but her car had been “booted” – her front wheel was clamped with a device that makes it impossible to drive.Penny, 45, complained to the staff in the Miner’s Building, and then to the police, to no avail. The store employees would not intervene, and the police could not get involved because it is a “civil matter” between private parties.Penny called Carl Bergman, owner of the Miner’s Building, on her cell phone and was rather curtly told the same thing, she said, so she went to see Bergman in person.In the end, Penny paid the “boot man,” Queer, $80 so he would remove the boot.Bergman said he steers clear of any involvement with the booting procedure.

“It’s Britt’s business, they have to deal with Britt.” He said he has been booted more than once in his decades in Aspen, had to pay the fee, “and I finally learned my lesson.”Queer, whom local businesses hire to monitor parking compliance in their private parking spaces, sold his boot business several years ago but has returned to it in the last couple of years.He said this week that business is fairly slow these days. He said Tuesday that he had not booted a single car since Jan. 29, and had booted only a couple of cars the week before that.”I have to find something else to do, because I can’t make a living off it,” he said this week, confiding that he has taken on a couple of caretaking jobs for local homeowners in order to make ends meet.

He said he “chalked” the tire on Penny’s car at 12:50 p.m. that day and she came back at 1:45. He said she also had no receipts from the store to verify she had been shopping at the Miner’s Building.”Parking is brutal in this town,” he conceded. “I’m just trying to do a job. … I’m not out to torture people.”John Colson’s e-mail address is

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