Get the boot, and you’ll stay put
You’ll just run in and run out. How much can it really matter where you park?

As UNR students Darin Olde and Christina Probert recently discovered, it can matter quite a lot—$80, to be exact. They ignored the signs and left their car in the parking lot of The Breakaway bar, 10 E. Ninth St., to run into Jimmy John’s sandwich shop. They returned within minutes to find a boot affixed to their car’s wheel.

Olde said he didn’t notice the “Breakaway parking only” sign in the Breakaway lot. He walked into the sandwich shop with Probert and some friends and was immediately warned to move his car. But by the time he returned, his car already had been taken captive, and he was issued an $80 fee for the boot’s removal. He said parking enforcers told him the fee must be paid in cash right then—although the towing company, Universal Parking Enforcement, disputes this version of the story—or the car would be towed, and he would have to pay significantly more. Olde said the car was booted within two minutes.

“It’s predatory,” said Jimmy John’s owner, Tim Wulf. “They’re so fast; the person doesn’t have a chance.”

Jimmy John’s opened in March next to the Breakaway on Ninth Street. Linda Kukuk, manager of the Breakaway, said parking has been a problem ever since.

“At any given point in the day, our parking lot was full,” she said. “I’m the victim here. I’m losing some serious business. I don’t know why the city allowed a business to open without parking in the first place.”

Kukuk said she hired Universal at the city’s suggestion, and the company has been immobilizing unwanted cars ever since.

“They asked if we would take on the task, and we stationed ourselves over there until Jimmy John’s took over the responsibility,” said Jack London, owner of Universal.

London said this is a normal practice for his company.

“When we start a new property, that’s pretty much where we’ll be until people get the message,” he said.

Enough people have had problems parking at the Breakaway that Jimmy John’s has been paying employees to stand in the parking lot. The employees warn the sandwich shoppers before they get to the sign on the door that warns, “If you are still reading this … it may be too late. They’re booting cars so fast you will freak!”

There is some dispute about whether Breakaway and the towing company are in compliance with city ordinances governing booting and towing. The city has different ordinances governing such matters, depending on whether the site of a violation is within or without the downtown corridor. Outside that corridor, the law says booting or towing cannot take place until 10 minutes have elapsed. Breakaway is outside the corridor, according to the ordinance, which says the corridor stops at Interstate 80. However, a map supplied by the city clerk’s office shows the corridor extending to Ninth Street, which would put Breakaway within the corridor.

In addition, the law says two forms of payment must be accepted by the booting/towing company.

Olde said he understands he shouldn’t have parked there, but he still feels cheated.

“I’m clearly at fault, but it seems their methods are a bit extreme,” Olde said. “We all walked away angry and felt slighted. I don’t think I’ll go back to the Breakaway.”

Or, at least, The Breakaway’s parking lot.