Did You Know?
By Sandra L. Gottlieb, Esq. CCAL
Thinking of Putting “Boots” on Cars in Your Community? Think Again!
The California Vehicle Code (CVC) permits homeowner’s associations and their parking enforcement vendors to tow improperly parked vehicles, as long as they comply with certain signage and notice requirements. Some boards have asked whether they can place wheel clamps—also known as wheel boots, immobilizing boots, parking boots, or Denver Boots—on improperly parked vehicles as well, the CVC does is silent on this issue. In 2004, California’s then Attorney General published an opinion examining whether owners of private parking lots could contract with private security firms to place boots on vehicles that were improperly parked on their property, and concluded they could not.
The CVC generally prohibits any person from tampering with a vehicle without the vehicle owner’s consent, and the sections authorizing the use of boots state that only peace officers and parking enforcement employees may place them on improperly parked vehicles with five or more delinquent parking tickets, and only when those vehicles are parked on highways or public lands. If private landowners can’t place boots on vehicles, it is our opinion that community associations cannot either and could be subject to significant liability if they ever tried. Best thing to do enforce your community’s parking rules, have them reviewed by counsel as necessary, and partner with licensed parking enforcement vendors who understand what they can—and cannot—do, and who agree to indemnify you if they’re wrong.
Now you know!