Couple frustrated their car marked with disabled plates was booted
August 18, 2008
ASPEN ” Mary Ann Viola was shocked to see a dreaded parking boot on her car after shopping at Clark’s Market in June.
Viola’s husband, Salvatore, is disabled and they had tags denoting such on their rental car.
But when they went shopping at the 1970s-era retail building that includes Clark’s Market, Ace Hardware and other stores, the disabled spot in front of the shopping plaza was taken. So Viola found another spot.
But she didn’t notice the signs for one-hour parking for customers only, she said.
The couple shopped at Clark’s and the nearby liquor store. But she admits the pair, who came to Aspen from Florida for Jazzfest, then were lured to music coming from Rio Grande Park.
She’s not sure how long they were there, but when the couple returned, their car was booted.
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Britt Queer, aka “the Boot Man,” a private contractor who monitors the parking lot at Clark’s, gave the couple a break on the $100 fine ” cutting it to $80 ” but said the disabled parking tag didn’t entitle the couple to special treatment, Viola said.
“I didn’t see it until I was booted,” Viola said of the signs. “Obviously now I will know.”
Upset when she returned home, Viola wrote an e-mail to Puppy Smith Management, the company that owns and operates the building and lot.
But Kym Ryan, an official with the company, told Viola she was lucky Queer gave her the slight break on the fine.
“I’m not even interested in the money back,” Viola said. “I’m interested in what the policy is from now on.”
In other places, a disabled tag allows for unlimited parking in a legal spot, even in timed lots or on-street parking, Viola said.
It’s a policy followed by city of Aspen officials in metered parking on city streets.
So Viola was shocked to see a boot on her vehicle.
Reached by phone, Ryan said she could not comment. But in a recent e-mail to Viola, she wrote that the lot in front of Clark’s is a small, private lot and that Queer is an independent contractor there to ensure that the parking spaces are not abused.
“It’s great that large cities can extend special handling about parking issues for vehicles with handicap vouchers, but you were booted in a small private parking [lot],” Ryan wrote in the e-mail.
The lot is clearly marked and the rules are cut and dry, she wrote.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), however, Ryan is in the right, because the parking lot at Clark’s offers the requisite number of disabled spaces.
Jamie Hais, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Department of Justice, pointed out the requirements in the ADA, and said there are not necessarily special exemptions for people with disabled tags in time-limited private lots.
Viola, however, is frustrated, and said the hassles of that day left her with a bad taste in her mouth about a place she likes to visit.
“I think it’s a lousy policy, if that’s theirs,” Viola said.
She pointed out that the couple patronized nearby stores and said Ryan’s response was unfair.
“I just think that her response was completely inappropriate,” Viola said.