In Buffalo's Theater District, you have two options for parking: pay the meter and park on the street, or choose one of several privately-owned surface parking lots — that's where some lawmakers say you're taking a big gamble.
"I've seen parking lots that say, ‘Park here from $5 to $75.’ How do I know how much it's going to cost to park there? Consumers should be able to have that information up-front before they decide to park somewhere," said Cheektowaga Assemblywoman Monica Wallace.
"Here in the city of Buffalo, the price of the parking, it's not clearly marked and drivers don't know the current rate until they park their car, exited the car, and then went up to the kiosk. Look at all the signs around us. None of them clearly state how much it costs to park in one of these lots," said Assemblyman Sean Ryan.
Ryan calls it predatory parking practices. He says some lots don't clearly tell visitors how much you can expect to pay for an hour or even a day. He says some of the signs have hidden in small print the consequences for failure to pre-pay at the meter or properly displaying your receipt.
"Sometimes they engage in bait-and-switch, other times they engage in just pure parking traps where people park in lots that aren't clearly marked and then come back to the lot to find their car has either been towed or it's been booted," said Ryan.
That's why Ryan is introducing the Parking Protection Bill.
"We want to require that parking lot attendants clearly mark the cost to park before you enter the lot. It has to be visible before you enter the lot," said Ryan.
Ryan is also calling an end to booting vehicles, and cars cannot be towed unless there's an attendant at the lot to answer the user's questions.
"No one should be taken advantage of by parking lot owners who are demanding cash to release their cars, and this bill will make sure it doesn't happen in Buffalo or anywhere else in the state," said Ryan.
Some of the parking lots Ryan was referring to are owned by developer Mark Croce, but Ryan never mentioned Croce by name.
Croce did not immediately return a request for comment.