By Joel Hall
The Riverdale City Council voted unanimously this week to rewrite its ordinances regarding companies using wheel clamps within the city limits. As of this week, companies seeking to boot illegally-parked vehicles will be monitored by the city's Community Development department.
In addition, the City Council voted unanimously to strengthen its ordinance regarding the payment of monthly sanitation fees. As of this week, the city will deny the renewal of business licenses to business and apartment complex owners with outstanding sanitation fees, according to city officials.
The changes to the city's ordinances took place during the council's regular business meeting on Monday night. Riverdale City Attorney Deana Johnson said changes to the wheel-booting rules were made to correct an oversight which allowed companies using wheel clamps to operate without the full knowledge of city officials.
"The last update to this was in 2001, and in 2001 we didn't even have a department of Community Development," Johnson said. "At that time, all the permitting went over to the police department. Through some investigating, the city found out that they didn't have copies of the agreements with the booting companies that the businesses were using. They received a license [from the police department] ... but we would have no idea which parking lots they were towing. We decided to do a whole rewrite."
Riverdale City Manager Iris Jessie said the city's wheel-booting ordinance allows companies to charge up to $50 per parking violation, but that the city had recently received complaints by people claiming to have been charged more than $50. She said the new ordinance will avoid confusion and abuse of the rules by starting a fingerprinting system for businesses seeking booting permits, and an official appeals process for companies denied permits.
"This revision gives some regulatory powers to the department of Community Development," Jessie said. "It gives us a better way to track people ... to know who's doing business and who is not doing business."
On Monday, the city also chose to crack down on business owners, and owners of multi-family dwellings, who fail to pay their sanitation fees.
Jessie said the new rules state that either a business owner or business tenant is required to stay current with their trash-collection fees in order to receive a business license renewal. The rule stipulates that if a new business owner acquires a business from a previous owner with an outstanding fee, the fee will transfer over to the new owner, she said.
"It's really putting everyone on notice," Jessie said. "If a former tenant left an outstanding sanitation bill, the building has to be in compliance. We won't issue a permit, or renew one, if there is an outstanding sanitation fee. If you don't pay your commercial sanitation fees, then you are in jeopardy of losing your [business] license."
According to Riverdale City Clerk Stephanie Thomas, the council also voted 3-1 Monday night (Councilman Wayne Hall dissenting) to approve $745,578 in capital improvements, not included in the city's fiscal 2010 budget.
The improvements include: $70,000 for the repair of various streets; $350,000 for furniture, fixtures, and equipment for the new City Hall complex at the Riverdale Promenade; $275,000 for site work, property acquisition, and planning of a new Riverdale Park on Wilson Road; and $50,578 to replenish funds in the city manager's contingency budget.