WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WECT) – Greg Buscemi’s position on the Wrightsville Beach parking program and law enforcement has been well documented in the media and by recent lawsuits filed not only against the beach town, but all of them. New Hanover County municipalities.
It’s safe to say he’s no fan of the city making millions of dollars from visitors trying to access the beach, but in the past his outspoken stance has had no consequences.
That apparently changed after he spoke with WECT for an investigation into Pivot Parking, a new parking company facing a federal lawsuit brought by the city. Just days after the investigation aired, in which Buscemi called the city’s actions suspicious, he woke up to find that his car was fitted with an immobilizer, better known as the boot.
At Wrightsville Beach, paid parking operates from March through October, ending on the first day of November. Buscemi therefore found it strange that his car was started in mid-November.
City manager Tim Owens said that despite paid parking ending in late October, enforcement efforts continue.
“Paid parking ends November 1, however, enforcement of unpaid parking infractions and collection of unpaid tickets continues year round through Pivot Parking or the police department on behalf of the city. As Pivot Parking staff wrapped up their rounds on November 15, the enforcement system alerted staff to a vehicle that had unpaid tickets of 3 or more and enforcement action was taken, ”Owens said. .
Buscemi, like everyone else, is allowed to park on the street for free during the low season. As he does not have a residential parking pass, he parks in his driveway during the summer. The day before his car started, however, he pulled into the street to allow his roommate to park in the driveway.
He woke up the next morning with the trunk of his car.
A ticket affixed to its driver’s window indicated that the start was due to several unpaid tickets from April and May 2020, about 18 months before the immobilization.
In three days in spring 2020, Buscemi accumulated three different tickets: two for parking without a subscription and the other for parking outside the lines. Buscemi said none of the alleged violations were true as he was parked in the lines and had a parking pass hanging from his mirror.
When asked about the outstanding tickets, Buscemi said he was aware he had been issued a ticket, but he felt the tickets were invalidated after a conversation with a police officer about them.
“A police officer actually came to the house to see who owned the car, I think they were worried about towing it if it wasn’t supposed to be towed and that was the exact situation. I got out, I showed him the tag in the window, he saw it was there and he said don’t worry, it’s okay then, ”Buscemi said.
Despite this, it appears that these three tickets are still active. But even with tickets in circulation, he claims the city, or whoever decided to start their car, did so illegally, citing the city ordinance as evidence.
“The general manager or his representative may immobilize by the use of locks and tow any vehicle parked illegally in violation of this chapter and for which there are at least three unpaid, unpaid and late parking tickets for a period of more than more than 72 hours. For the purpose of determining whether an illegally parked vehicle has been the subject of three or more overdue, unpaid and overdue parking tickets for more than 72 hours, it is sufficient that the registration number of the parked vehicle number plate number the registration number of the vehicle that received the tickets are the same, ”the city ordinance reads.
While Buscemi technically had three tickets, he says it was parked legally on the street, meaning it shouldn’t have been started.
“If you look at the specific city ordinances themselves, they say they can only stop a vehicle if two conditions are met. The first must be that it must be parked illegally, the second there must be three unpaid parking tickets that are not paid. In this case, I told them that the plain language of the ordinance says that if it is not parked illegally, I am not subject to this immobilization, ”Buscemi said.
Apparently he was right.
The trunk was removed from his car and the ticket was also dismissed, but he was still without a vehicle for three days. Buscemi says he doesn’t feel it was a random event.
“I can’t imagine they were reading license plates for everyone on the island when the parking enforcement ended two weeks ago. Looks like they were sort of waiting for the chance to see my car, it’s a very recognizable car, the license plate says WB NC, it’s very easy to see it when you are driving, especially when they me know very well, ”he said.
“You feel like you are being targeted and singled out when something like this happens,” he continued. “I believe they were, I don’t think they were looking for someone else to enforce these things and put on a boot.”
Owens said that was not what happened.
“When Mr. Buscemi’s vehicle was started, the staff were unaware that the vehicle was registered in Mr. Buscemi’s name. The application system does not provide information about the registered vehicle owner, it only alerts when a recognized plate has 3 or more outstanding citations, ”he said.
As to the fact that Lanier Parking issued the tickets and that Pivot Parking is the new management company, Owens said it doesn’t matter who wrote the tickets.
“It is common practice and required by the City for the current parking management provider to collect citations that are considered unpaid from previous years, even if the citations were issued by another parking management provider. All parking citations are written on behalf of the City, regardless of the provider or whether they are done in-house, ”he said.
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