§ 73.05  BOOTING PRACTICES.
   (A)   An occupied vehicle may not be booted.
   (B)   A booting service may not attempt to impede or block an occupied vehicle that has not yet been booted from being removed from a parking lot by its owner or operator.
   (C)   A booting service must accept at least two nationally-recognized credit cards (such as MasterCard or Visa) and any debit card in payment for any and all fees charged in connection with booting.
   (D)   (1)   No person may engage in booting until he or she has obtained an identification badge from the town. Identification badges shall be issued for a single calendar year and must be renewed annually. In order to obtain an identification badge from the town, the applicant must:
         (a)   Provide a certified copy of the applicant's criminal record in North Carolina from the Watauga County Clerk of Superior Court;
         (b)   Fully complete an application, on a form provided by the town, disclosing his or her name, address, telephone number, date of birth, gender, company affiliation, if any, physical location of affiliated company, and status as an employee or independent contractor of the company, by stating whether and by whom income taxes and FICA taxes are withheld from his or her pay; and
         (c)   Disclose and certify, under oath, any and all criminal convictions described at § 73.10 below. An identification badge may not be issued to a person who has been convicted as described at § 73.10.
      (2)   A person engaged in booting must display on his or her person at all times the picture identification badge issued by the town. The identification must be plainly visible, either attached to the exterior clothing or on a lanyard hanging around the neck. Upon request, the person engaged in booting must allow the operator or owner of the vehicle which has been immobilized to examine and copy any information from the identification badge.  In addition, a person engaged in booting must wear clothing that identifies in a manner that is conspicuous and easily readable to other persons with whom that persons engages the name of the business for whom that person works and includes in either the name of the business or otherwise a description of the parking control device or method used, e.g., "ABC Wheel-lock Company." The letters on such insignia shall be no less than three-quarters of an inch in height.
   (E)   Any vehicle used in connection with booting must have insignia on both the operator's door and the front passenger door or a car-top-mounted sign that identifies the company with which the attendant is employed or associated by name and telephone number and includes either in the name of the company or otherwise a description of the parking control device or method utilized, e.g., "ABC Wheel-lock Company." All letters on such insignia shall be no less than three inches in height; provided, that notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, vehicle insignia must comply with this three-inch minimum requirement when new insignia is purchased, when insignia is replaced, or by June 30, 2017, whichever occurs earlier.
   (F)   After immobilizing a vehicle, the booting service must place a weather-proof (e.g., laminated) notice on the driver's side windshield and/or the driver's side window of the car, affixed in manner that will not mar the vehicle but will insure that the notice will not blow away. This notice must be brightly colored (e.g., yellow or orange), a minimum of 8.5" x 11", and contain the following information, all of which shall be in a large, plainly readable type:
      (1)   In capital letters: "YOUR VEHICLE HAS BEEN WHEEL-LOCKED BECAUSE IT WAS PARKED IN A PRIVATE LOT WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION.  DO NOT DRIVE THIS VEHICLE OR YOU MAY DAMAGE YOUR CAR AND THE WHEEL LOCK";
      (2)   All fees that may be charged prior to release of the vehicle;
      (3)   That all fees may be paid by cash, credit card or debit card; and
      (4)   A telephone number to call to have the wheel lock removed.  The fees that may be charged must be specifically and precisely disclosed; that is, the notice may not refer to minimum or maximum fees or a range of fees.
   (G)   A booting service must arrange to respond to a telephone call from the owner or operator of an immobilized vehicle within no more than 15 minutes.
   (H)   A booting service must make a reasonable effort to release the immobilized vehicle within 30 minutes of responding to the telephone call from the owner or operator of an immobilized vehicle.
    (I)   After a vehicle is booted, it shall be unlawful for any person to authorize, direct or contract for the trespass towing of that vehicle for a period of at least eight hours following such booting.  Once a boot has been applied, the vehicle subsequently may be trespassed towed after the vehicle has been booted for at least eight hours, so long as the requirements of either § 73.03(A) or 73.03(C) are met as to that trespass tow.
   (J)   A booting company may not charge more than one boot removal fee for the booting of a particular vehicle in a particular instance, and may not charge a higher removal fee based solely on the length of time that a boot has been attached to a vehicle; provided, however, that this provision is not intended to prevent a booting service from charging additional fees for separate and additional services, such as a service call to meet an owner or operator of a vehicle to remove a boot where the owner or operator does not appear and has to be rescheduled.
   (K)   Should the town receive and verify three or more unrelated and credible complaints within any three-month period asserting the failure of a booting service to respond within 15 minutes to telephone contact by the owners or operators of immobilized vehicles and to arrange the vehicles' release within 30 minutes thereafter, it shall be presumptively concluded that the booting service does not have the capacity to respond within the required times. Thereafter for the following 12-month period, a duly authorized person must be on duty and present in the parking lot at all times when any vehicle is booted, and the person must remain on the property until the owner or operator of the vehicle returns, with the ability to remove the boot upon payment of fees.  After the 12-month period, the booting service shall not be required to maintain a duly authorized person at all times in parking lots where vehicles are booted, unless and until such time as the town again receives and verifies three or more complaints as set forth in the first sentence of this division.
(Ord. passed 12-15-2016)