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Potential Ordinance Regulating Towing

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Non-consensual towing can result in financial loss that far exceeds a fair penalty for illegal parking. Non-consensual towing can impose a crushing financial burden on a family. Tow truck operators can charge high rates for towing and storage of vehicles. Storage fees can add up quickly and, in some cases exceed the value of a vehicle. On Nov. 8, 2018, the Boulder City Council will consider an ordinance regulating towing.

City Council will consider the following options for regulation:

  1. One-Hour Rule: A vehicle must be parked for one full hour before being towed unless it is parked in a manner that interferes with an entrance or exit, is within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, or in a fire lane.  The curb of a fire lane must be painted red and be clearly labeled “No Parking Fire Lane.”
  2. Unconditional Release: If a vehicle owner encounters a towing company removing his or her vehicle but the truck is not yet on a public road, the vehicle owner may demand the immediate and unconditional release of the vehicle.
  3. No Release Fee: If the towing company releases a vehicle that has not yet reached a public road, the driver is entitled to free release of vehicle.  State law allows for a fee up to $70.
  4. Ten-Mile Limit: A towing company cannot take a vehicle to a storage lot that is more than ten miles from where it was parked.
  5. Authorization: A towing company must have written consent from the property owner or agent. A property owner or agent must have waited one hour before calling for a tow.
  6. Written Warning: A sign should be displayed in plain view at all entrances to the property.  It should clearly prohibit public parking and indicate that vehicles will be removed at the owner’s expense.  The sign should include the name and telephone number of each towing company that is a party to a written general towing authorization agreement with the property owner.
  7. Valid Towing Permit: The towing company must have a valid motor carrier permit, make records and photographs of each tow available for law enforcement.
  8. Records of Tow: The towing company must record the time of the tow, the reason for the tow, the make and model of the vehicle, the location of the tow and the time that the vehicle was originally identified as being parked illegally. 
  9. No Sharing of Profits: A towing company must not share profits from towing with property owners who call for a vehicle removal.  This is not required by state law but represents an industry best practice.
  10. Credit Cards OK: A towing company must accept credit cards in payment for towing and storage fees, which must be reasonable.
  11. Release from Storage: If the storage lot is not open during normal business hours or fails to respond within one hour outside of normal business hours, then no storage or towing fees may be charged.  This is consistent with the requirements under state law.
  12. Reasonable Gate Fee: The gate fee, or maximum hourly charge for releasing a vehicle after normal business hours, shall be one half the hourly tow rate charged for initially towing the vehicle, or less.  State law limits the gate fee to $66, which is less than half of the $180 hourly tow rate.
  13. Limitations on Reasons for Tow: No vehicle may be towed based on the condition of the vehicle or failure to comply with state licensing provisions.  This is not required by state law.  Some tow companies tow vehicles, which are otherwise parked legally, if the vehicle has a flat tire or has expired license tabs.  This provision would prohibit such activities.

Share your experience 

If you are interested or want to share your experiences with the city council, you can email them at [email protected] . If you want to share your experiences in person, you can speak at the public hearing on Nov. 8. The city will have translators present at the hearing. The hearing will be at the Municipal Building, 1777 Broadway, which is at the corner of Broadway and Canyon. 

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