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Parking lot companies must follow city regulations when booting

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WHEN LOT ATTENDANTS DESERVE THE BOOT: Last week, parking-lot boots were back on drivers’ minds. A local television news segment focused on the company, Armando’s, that boots vehicles in the McDonald’s parking lot across from the University of New Mexico.

The upshot? Armando’s had to increase the size of its signs that announce it will boot vehicles.

Sharon Kluck emails that she was recently booted by Armando’s in the Walgreens lot at Central and Monte Vista. She explains that after shopping in the drug store and eating lunch nearby, she returned to find “a note and boot on my car. The attendant immediately appeared with a clipboard and camera demanding $60 CASH to unboot me. He said that anyone who left their car in the lot and was not at the time shopping at the stores there would receive a boot. My friend and I were SHOCKED and appalled, since we had NOT seen any sign near the car. He said the lot did not belong to Walgreens, of which we were not aware. I had never seen a boot before and was terrified and uncertain whether this was legal! I threatened to call the police and demanded a receipt.

“He only shrugged and would not remove the boot until I gave him the cash! … I was so shaken that I went into Walgreens and asked to speak to the manager. He said there was nothing he could do for me and that another customer had the same thing happen. We were too angry (AND BROKE) to shop and returned to my car. The car next to mine also had a note, but NO boot. We had hoped to ask the attendant about the inconsistency of the booting, but he was no where to be found!”

The ordinance the Albuquerque City Council updated last year requires a lot more than two 2-by-3-foot signs. Those signs must include the fee for boot removal (capped at $75) and contact information for the company installing the boots; the lot attendant or a machine must give parkers a receipt; the companies must have a phone number manned 24-7; and when the company is called, it must remove a boot within an hour.

Assistant City Attorney Greg Wheeler says if parkers experience violations of the ordinance they should report it to 311. The city criminally cites companies that don’t comply, and he says it did cite Armando’s, which then put up bigger signs at Mickey D’s.

WALMART TURN LANES HIT A NERVE: Drivers are split on the reduced number of turn lanes at the Walmart at Wyoming and Academy.

The city said last week that the single left out of the lot onto southbound Wyoming is sufficient.

One reader emails, “I like it better now with the two wider lanes, one for left turns, one for right. When it had two left, one right, it was really too narrow to have three big vehicles lined abreast, and the left-turn people sometimes got mixed up as to which lane they wanted to be in, sometimes causing some close calls when the light changed to let them turn left. I don’t know what ‘backups and delays’ (the reader last week) is referring to, unless he thinks a line of four cars waiting for the light to change is a ‘backup.’ ”

But on the other side, Dan emails “that site-development plan for the Wyoming/Academy shopping center needs a common-sense amendment. An OK situation has been turned into a bottleneck, which seems to be good enough for the Planning Department.”

Another reader emails “at the very least, they should extend the length of the green light.”

And Marsha Suzuki says via email the new configuration “causes a huge backup of traffic from that stop light in more that one direction: 1) directly east from Wyoming all the way to the Walmart building and 2) north on a service road past a bank building toward two restaurants, Boston Market and Dion’s. These backups prevent customers entering the parking lot to turn left into the parking spaces on the west side of the lot. Traffic coming from the restaurants (is) often not allowed into lanes in order to exit the lot.”

She now exits the lot on Academy, which is “a bit inconvenient but safer than trying to navigate that west exit. There are drivers who are used to the two left-turn lanes and just ignore the painted lanes. There are drivers who are not patient and do not share the lanes with others. This is a very busy intersection with two very popular malls and an extremely large amount of traffic. Maybe someone from the Transportation Development section needs to visit the site on a weekend or during rush hour.”

Assistant editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays and West Siders and Rio Ranchoans on Thursdays. Reach her at 823-3858; road@abqjournal.com; P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103; or go to ABQjournal.com/traffic to read previous columns and join in the conversation.
— This article appeared on page A6 of the Albuquerque Journal

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