Can private lot owners 'ticket' parkers? No. Can they collect? They'll try their best.

April 10, 2022, 8:38 AM

This story keeps getting worse. (File photo)

Nancy Kaffer remains on the Olympia Development "parking tickets" story, and the information doesn't get any less infuriating. 

She found one driver, an actual employee of Olympia, who was "ticketed" in 2021 in a company-owned garage for the crime of parking in another's reserved space, never mind the facility was nearly empty. As an employee, he didn't think he owed anything, and ignored it. 

But then ...

But a few weeks later, a letter from Olympia Development Parking arrived at his home, addressed to him by name, informing him that the $50 fine had doubled. If he didn't pay promptly, Olympia threatened to revoke his driving privileges, tow his car, send the account to collections and notify a credit bureau. He brought the letter to his supervisor, who made a call and had it quashed.

A reasonable person might ask: Revoke driving privileges? Who do these people think they are? And the answer is: More powerful than you, and powerful enough to think they can bully you into paying. 

But they can't. That much is clear. Kaffer:

"There is no state statute I know of that explicitly authorizes these types of tickets," Jason Evans, chief of the AG's corporate oversight division, wrote in an email. "That doesn’t mean that a parking lot owner is prohibited from issuing some type of invoice requesting that individuals who park in their lot — without first paying — pay the reasonable parking fee."

But Evans said the citations issued by Olympia don't look like invoices. "They have the appearance of a government-issued or authorized parking ticket," he said.

However. Because the Michigan Legislature allows the sale of the state's driver data to private companies -- a practice that generates $1 million a year for the state -- a collection agency can hassle you for payment, and potentially affect your credit. In fact, you should not be surprised that a sleazy corner of the collections business specializes in this stuff. 

Meanwhile, neither Olympia, nor Bedrock Development (which owns parking lots but has not, to anyone's knowledge, started "ticketing" cars in them) would answer questions about the practice. 

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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