You can admit it — it’s happened to you, probably when you were late for work or a pressing appointment, or were trying to split from the apartment you stayed over at the night before. Regardless, it’s always at the most inopportune time. You’re rushing toward your car and there on the windshield in fluorescent orange is what you hope to be a solicitation of sorts. It turns out — you’ve guessed already — to be a warning sticker advising you not to attempt to move your vehicle until you’ve paid the city of Portland a ton of money, which, of course, you don’t have.
But getting the boot off of your car, or avoiding it entirely, has never been easier. When a recent Monday holiday had me all confused about which side of the street to park on, I came out of my house to find my car booted, but also the parking attendant still there.
“Is this you?” she said, pointing at my vehicle.
“Ummm, yeah,” I replied.
“I hate doing my job on these Monday holiday mornings. Tell you what, I’ll stay here if you want to run in and call the number on the ticket and pay off your fines. It will go in the system instantly and I’ll take the boot right off,” she said.
Conveniently quick, four minutes maybe, I was back outside getting the boot removed (with $120 less in my savings account).
“You probably don’t want to hear this right now, but you know you can pay your parking tickets online. It would have saved you the fifty extra dollars you just spent to have the boot taken off,” said the attendant.
She’s right. I know I shouldn’t toss those parking bills into the recycling. I know I should pay them rather than playing this game of chance with parking meters and questionable not-quite-spots.
John Peverada, the city’s parking manager for 13 years, let us in on how to keep up to date with your parking tickets:
The city sends statements every other month, if tickets have been issued (and not paid) in the last year. If you move often, beware: the statements are sent to the address on your car’s registration. But you can check your balance and pay your tickets online at www.portlandparkingtickets.com.
Also, the first expired parking meter or overtime parking ticket you receive in the first six months of the year will be forgiven automatically. (The same is true for the first such ticket you get from July through December.)
There’s more: Did you know that in the phone book there is an actual listing called “Boot Complaints”? (The number is 207.874.8910.) Peverada says there haven’t been too many, and couldn’t even think of a memorable example.
But I know I have been thanked by a parking attendant for “being so nice about getting the boot. Most people don’t react so kindly to it.” How can you argue, though? If you have three tickets that are more than ten days overdue, you’re a candidate. You can recycle them all you want but they aren’t going anywhere. Winter’s approaching, and snow bans are just around the corner. (Call 207.879.0300 to find out about those.)
On the Web
Portland parking: www.portlandmaine.gov | www.portlandparkingtickets.com