GALVESTON — A longtime anti-seawall paid parking foe claims he is involved in litigation over the issue. But what exactly former island mayoral candidate Greg Roof plans to argue to a judge isn’t clear.
The Daily News was unable to find any court records in county, state or federal court indicating Roof had indeed filed a lawsuit.
Roof refused to say what the alleged litigation is about.
Roof confirmed he was involved “in legal action,” involving the city and paid seawall parking.
When pressed for details about the legal action, Roof refused to answer and eventually hung up on The Daily News.
“I don’t consider The Galveston (County) Daily News to be a legitimate newspaper, so stop calling me,” Roof said. He then hung up the phone.
Galveston Police Chief Henry Porretto was unaware of any legal challenge to the new pay parking system. He said after his department “took a leadership role,” in implementing the new seawall parking plan, the system is working better than the public may perceive.
He said he is not sure what the grounds are for the lawsuit.
“We’re going forward with a mandate from the people of Galveston,” the chief said.
The decision to implement paid parking on Seawall Boulevard was approved by voters in 2011.
The new pay-by-phone system made its debut July 27.
Some visitors have criticized the system for being unwieldy and reported problems registering vehicles over the phone, but the city has said it will take time to smooth out wrinkles in the new program.
Porretto insists the system, while having a few kinks, is running smoothly and predicted it will gain favor of visitors after amenities and a stronger police presence are evident along the seawall.
“When we offered to take the leadership role on this project it was one, so we could move forward as a city and two, enhance police protection for the people who visit Galveston,” Poretto said.
“I know Mr. Roof is an opponent to paid seawall parking, but I can’t tell you what legal grounds he’d have for a lawsuit,” Poretto said. “The voters gave us a mandate and we are following up on that mandate.”
Poretto said the paid seawall parking enforcement by his department isn’t just about collecting money.
“Ever since the (workforce reduction) after Hurricane Ike we haven’t had enough officers to patrol the seawall,” the chief said. “When we took the leadership role, I said I needed the commitment to have extra officers on the seawall.”
The chief said one of the biggest challenges for his department is curbing tourist-related crime along the seawall.
“We get 900 to 1,200 calls a month along the seawall, we just don’t have enough officers to handle it all,” Poretto said.
He said adding the seawall parking enforcement to the mix will help cut down on crimes against tourists.
“The officers won’t just be looking to issue tickets just yet,” Porretto said. “We’re still trying to work out all the kinks.”
Poretto said the extra police presence along the seawall will allow officers to be on the lookout for criminal activity along the island most famous stretch of road.
“They’ll also cut down on all of those car break-ins and burglaries because our officers will be there and on the lookout,” the chief said.