Shame on you, Paradise Parking and Premier Booting Services. And shame on the Related Group and Terra Group too. Consider this column a bill for $2400 that you owe to charity.
On Saturday morning, at a lot where Miami police directed dozens of joggers to park, 27 people had their cars booted. Each paid $89 to have the boot removed from the car.
This wasn't just your average Coconut Grove parking scam, though. The people parking were running, jogging and walking to raise money to fight a lethal disease in the ALS Lou Gehrig's 5K/10K Race in Coconut Grove.
"This is wrong," said Alexandra Castilla, a young woman who was booted after walking several miles. "It's evil." Castilla, by the way, paid a $15 charge to park in the lot before getting booted.
Among others who were unjustly booted were a doctor, Randy Katz; an attorney, Eduardo Perdomo; and an athletic looking guy named Lawrence Allenbaugh, who alleged that Premier "targeted us for this, preyed on us."
Twenty-seven cars had boots attached to the wheels. That means the total collected was at least $2403.
A large sign when you enter the lot reads "Coconut Grove Bank." Christine M. Woll, a bank vice president, said the bank isn't to blame. In an email, she commented: "Coconut Grove Bank does not own the property, nor do we control the parking. Our entire property was sold in July of 2013."
Indeed the real culprits seem to be the Related Group and Terra Group. According to the Daily Business Review, they bought a site that apppears to include the lot last year for $55 million. They should be contributing to ALS too.
An employee for Premier collecting the money at the lot declined to give his name. Michael, a dispatcher at Premier, refused to give his last name and agreed to pass on a request for comment. The company is cited for "extortion" in this Ripoff Report.
Miami police, who directed people to the lot, also didn't return a call seeking comment. The media relations office is closed on weekends.
Full disclosure. My son ran in the race and contributed his time and effort to charity. We parked in the lot but were not booted.
It was, by the way, a hell of a well organized race and -- except for the parking mess -- a beautiful thing.
UPDATE: At day's end, this note arrived from Kevin Packman, Chairman and CEO of the ALS Recovery Fund, the organization that held the Lou Gehrig event today:
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This is our 13th year holding the event and the problems never happened before, thankfully. We are a grassroots organization run entirely by volunteers. Therefore our supporters are precious to us. The action of the parking lot vendor should be investigated and I thank you for reporting it.
Your article properly discusses that 1) the police directed the participants to the lots and 2) many paid the rate in advance. Notwithstanding, the vendor booted all cars and forced people to pay the 90 to get their car back. The parking lot vendor should donate their ill gotten gains to our organization.
Andrew Beachler, president of Premier Booting, also called at day's end. "I am going to refund everyone who was booted out there. We will make sure that everyone gets their money back." Anybody who has questions can email Andrew@premierbooting.com.
Daniel Radrizzani, a vice president of Paradise Parking, the vendor that controls the lot, said his company wasn't informed of the race. "We don't operate like this. I found out after the fact," he said, then added that the company will make a donation to ALS research. "The amount I am not sure, but a donation will be made." He said 27 cars had been booted.