Chalking, Taxis, and Micromanaging


Chalking, Taxis, and Micromanaging

A federal court in the Midwest has ruled that chalking is no longer legal in five midwestern states. What the heck is that all about?

It seems that a lawyer in Michigan took a parking citation all the way to Federal Court and won. The court ruled that chalking was similar to entering a person’s house without a warrant. Wow!

The City of Saginaw, MI argued that the Supreme Court had carved out a “community caretaker” ruling stating that cities could ignore the ‘warrant requirement’ if the goal was to mitigate a public hazard. Get this:

Appeals court Judge Bernice Bouie Donald, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, reversed.

She said traditional law on searches of vehicles had been upended by the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision restricting the powers of police to use GPS devices to track criminal suspects.

In United States v. Jones, Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said that attaching the tracking device was a form of trespass on private property by police that requires a warrant.

Donald said the chalking of Taylor’s car was just like the GPS installation, a trespass for the purpose of gathering incriminating information and therefore a Fourth Amendment violation when done without a warrant.

She dismissed the “caretaker” exception, saying that Taylor’s vehicle posed no safety risk. The city was trying to raise revenue, not “mitigate [a] public hazard,” she wrote. Bold Face mine.

Where did she get the idea that the parking fines were to ‘raise revenue’? I wonder what the decision would have been if the judge understood that parking enforcement was to protect a public resource (parking) and to ensure there was enough parking for all who needed it.

I’ll tell you where she got that idea? She got it from us. We are intransigent when it comes to enforcement. Just the other day there was a two-page article in the LA Times about a woman who took two years to fight a parking and towing ticket. The parking department fought her every step of the way. Eventually, she won. 

This is the kind of publicity that just destroys us. The judge, down deep, understood that parking enforcement was an evil and she needed to find a way to slap it down. There’s not a lot of clarity here, but a lot of emotion.

BTW — You can still photograph vehicles, use LPR, and other methods, as long as you don’t touch the car. And YES, you can still put a citation on the car. 


Taxis have existed since the 1700s. They are ubiquitous in major cities around the world. Suddenly, they are being challenged by Uber and Lyft. Seemingly overnight taxis are being replaced by an app on your smart phone.

But is the app the real reason?

Taxis had no competition. They set a very low bar for themselves. The chances are the drivers didn’t speak your language. The cars were filthy. They assumed you were a criminal by having video monitoring and a big piece of bulletproof glass separating you from the driver. When it came time to pay, it was a negotiation. Plus, to get one was a real problem.

They didn’t seem to care. It was “my way or the highway.”

Then came Uberlyft. A tap on your phone and it was on the way. You knew who was coming, how long it was going to take, and how much it was going to cost. You had a choice of a limo, a standard sedan, a small car, or a shared (cheaper) ride. The cars were clean, the drivers attentive. You could even let the people you were meeting know where you were and when you would arrive. Often, they offer phone charging, and a bottle of water. At the end you could rate the car and its driver. Taxis were toast.

If you see Uberlyft as a competitor, can you see why? Do you see any similarities between your parking operation and a taxi? Is your garage pristine, or dirty? Do your employees communicate clearly with your customers? Is your facility bright and having an appearance of safety? Is it easy to find, is it easy to pay? Do you have special features for your customers like concierge service, perhaps a nearby Starbucks, or service for their vehicles? Do you have internal valet service? How about a shuttle to nearby restaurants, clubs, or venues? Do you offer a driver if they overindulge?

Are you so concerned about competition with other garages that you don’t join in a program to promote parking in your area, or the development of an app to easily find parking in the neighborhood?

How have you promoted the “Parking Experience” in your neighborhood. Is your “Parking Experience” a great one?

Think about it.


I found an article over on about the city of Destin, FL. It seems the municipal dads and moms have decided to tell local merchants how and where they can collect money on their parking facilities.

A local shopping center decided to charge for parking and put a prepay collection operation at the parking lot entrance. This caused a backup on one of main highways through the town as people had to stop, find the money, and pay. The city council, having reviewed the issue, decided to fix the problem by requiring all parking operations to pay on exit.

There is also a restaurant that has a valet operation at the entrance to their parking facility that causes a similar problem. Will the next law passed in Destin also require valet operations be located at the exit of the parking facility?

Dare one suggest that this tropical city hire someone who knows something about parking and traffic flow and take a look at the entire problem and perhaps come up with a solution that doesn’t require the city reach quite so far into the commercial operations of the merchants? Perhaps suggesting a few minor adjustments might solve the problem without the long arm of the law becoming involved.

Just Sayin’.

Article contributed by:
John Van Horn
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