Towing a Fine Line

 

Towing

A little over a year ago I caused a firestorm by referring to booting and towing as twin evils. I called out some (not all) towing companies as predatory in nature and stated that I feel they take advantage of our residents, students, and visitors. After a year of work we are ready to bring this issue to a head in our December 17th council meeting.

My deep look into towing and booting has helped me see the problem for what it is.  I have come to the conclusion that while some of our lots are well managed and use booting and towing as last resorts, too many are indeed predatory and make victims of well-meaning visitors and students.

I have found that the heart of the problem goes back to a change made in our ordinance in 2005. Up until then, we required the property owner to decide on whether to tow a vehicle or not. This decision was made by the owner or manager on an individual, case-by-case basis. In 2005 we changed the ordinance to allow for the tow to be initiated by a towing company without the specific consent of the property owner. Holy cow! What were we thinking? In essence we allow a towing company employee who makes 30% ($52.50) commission to decide that a car needs to be towed instead of the owner who is trying to carefully manage their property.

It’s time to undo our mistake. I want to put the decision back in the hands of property owners and take it away from those who profit by the tow. At the same time I realize we have responsible owners who are managing the tow companies and I don’t want to penalize them. As a result, the ordinance we are asking the council to approve will have a method for responsible owners to continue functioning as they do now.

In our council meeting this past week, the council asked for two more weeks to study the ordinance and to get public feedback. For those of you who have strong feelings on this issue now is the time to get involved. We have a great public process but it only works if you get involved. Please read the Proposed Ordinance, share your feelings with the council members and attend our council meeting on Tuesday, Dec 17.

We’ve come up with a quick 4-5 question survey we’d like to use to get some feedback from you. Please help us out.

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  1. RC

    You are my favorite politician. Of all time.

    (And I don’t even live in Provo anymore)

    1. Pam

      Wotta mess! Legalspeak at its best English grammatical malfeasance.

      The sentence Dave Knecht refers to has more problems than a “to” masquerading as an “or.” First, the sentence beginning on line 205 attempts to list the allowable choices for a tow truck operator after “mechanically connect[ing] … the vehicle upon arriv[ing] at the storage lot.” However, the preceding sentence implies that the vehicle has already been towed “directly to a storage lot…,” i.e., the connecting needs to come before the arriving. For clarity, those choices then need to be grammatically parallel in the next level of indentation.

      Oh nuts. To make a long story short, my attempts to triage the skewed parallelism gave me a headache and was delaying my dinner. (It sort of reminded me of a certain website disaster that actually isn’t worth fixing.) An editor needs to start at the beginning of this document and organize the points in a real outline that uses appropriate parallelism. A lot of residents are waiting for a tight, clear law.

      Sorry if I’ve hurt some City employee’s feelings, but I’m a professional editor and get paid for doing such repairs.

      1. DE

        @Pam No one likes a pretentious know-it-all

      2. Pam

        DE: Check your dictionary for the definition of “pretentious.” Everyone is good at something. It’s obvious from the other comments that all parties want a “tight, clear law,” and that’s what the document needs to be.

      3. Red

        Pam.
        Pam Pam Pam.
        Seriously, Pam?
        Pam?

      4. DAL

        Ugh. I think pretentious was a good choice in words DE.

      5. Mike

        *were delaying my dinner.

        NO ONE IS SAFE!

      6. ri

        No on likes a know-it-all, unless they are an attorney. @Pam good job!

    2. John

      RC – Thanks for the compliment. Flattery is everything, or so I hear.

      -John

    3. SB

      Likewise

    4. Ariana

      Aman glory hallelujah.

    5. Ariana

      Amen glory hallelujah.

  2. Dave Knecht

    You have my full support on this ordinance!

    There may be a correction needed in the following sentence starting on line 205.
    Once the vehicle is mechanically connected to the tow truck
    the tow operator may only disconnect the vehicle upon arrival
    at the storage lot,
    to release the vehicle to the driver, owner, or owner’s agent,
    or to abandon the tow and leave the vehicle where the tow operator originally found it.
    ***to release the vehicle to the driver, owner, or owner’s agent,
    should this read OR release rather that TO release?

    1. John

      Thanks Dave. I sent your comments to Robert West.

      1. Perry

        Or as ordered to do so by an officer of the law or a member of the Fire Department due to an unfortunate incident such as the death of an hysterical grandmother attempting to protect her granddaughter’s car from being towed as she was dropping a great grandchild off for babysitting. Yes, this really happened. The EMTs couldn’t get through to save the grandmother’s life because the tow truck driver continued hooking up as she lay dying in the road after falling and hitting her head.

      2. jody

        Wow. He still continued hooking up the car? Are we speaking of Bowdy Workman who works for express towing / knights parking enforcement? Wow. That company seriously needs to go. Why are they still in Provo? Surely and audit by the state would get them shut down. Have you seen the state of their office? Their filing cabinet is a cardboard box on the floor. There yard is required to be manned 8 am to 5 pm and not by the driver on duty. Always manned, as in someone there all the time. Its not manned ever! Shut em down for this alone. No lighting. No compressed air on site. Come on mayor curtis, Provo PD. The reasons to shut them down are right in front of you.

    2. Andrew

      I think under state law “to release the vehicle to the driver, owner, or owner’s agent,” will have to be removed or placed somewhere else. Because of documentation requirements tow companies have to take the car to the lot or abandon the tow. There is no middle ground on that. However the car should be able to be released at the lot to the owner or owner’s agent. Releasing to the driver could have some serious ramifications and anyone with permission to have the car should be able to obtain the ability to be an agent (signed document) to get the car released.

      1. Brian

        Common sense should prevail. Maybe that too much to ask of someone being paid by the volume of tows.

  3. @Dave, hopefully that change should be made, because as it stands the interpretation is ambiguous.

  4. Russell Bateman

    Yes, I know of an instances where an individual was towed within minutes after parking in a place to patronize a business he was used to frequenting only to find that the status of the parking spot had recently changed. With no way to get home, he called me to drive him around and help get his car back. We contacted the towing business who insisted we go to their yard, then call. Once there, the driver refused to come and conduct the exchange until he had found another vehicle to two (to make the trip to the impound yard “worth the trouble”).

    It appears to me that unless you can find a spot to park on Center and other Provo streets, it’s less than clear whether you’ll be towed or not. Also, the parking structure on Provo’s “first” block (northwest of Center and University) is now a mess with signs warning of towing in some spots, but it’s unclear exactly how certain those spots are marked. So, don’t park in the city’s advertised parking structure either?

    He told me this would probably be the last time he’d frequent that business. He’s not a Provo resident.

    I am a Provo resident and I’m considering no longer frequenting any Provo business in order to avoid getting towed under less than transparent conditions (the case in point would have caught me too because it was completely unclear), but also because I think it’s time Provo business took an active interest in the legalized criminal activity practiced on their clientel as a result of the latter’s patronization of their establishments.

    I’m not calling for a boycott; I’m just saying I’m not going to play the game any longer until there is reasonable protection by businesses or by the city again the predations of these businesses that take and hold vehicles for ransom.

    1. Shawn

      My van got towed tonight (technically it was yesterday 10/28/2016) while i wasn’t actually on the street but in front of my ex’s house garage to pick up my kids. Took about 10 minutes

  5. Ryan

    Finally. Predatory Towing Companies need to be held more accountable for their actions, and land owners need to be divorced from any monetary incentives to hire such companies!

    1. Perry

      Please explain the monetary incentives landlords have. We have heard this but no landlords admit to it. If there is documented proof of kickbacks to landlords wouldn’t that be a punishable crime as well?

      1. Hilary

        I am a landlord and we do not nor have we ever accepted any monetary kickbacks or ANY kickbacks of any sort. I do have residents ask about this frequently when booted or towed, but I agree, if it’s not it should be against the law. We tow or boot at last resort and do not benefit in any way.

  6. Tyler Baer

    I have lived in PRovo since I started going to BYU in 2006. I have been wrongfully and predatorily booted on numerous occasions where I was simply dropping a girl off after a date, or accidentally left my car in a vistor stall past 9 or 10 pm, and the people were just waiting for someone to forget, or sitting in their car outside a parking lot to boot or tow someone. This has been the biggest problem Provo has had for an ENTIRE DECADE. I will literally donate thousands of dollars out of my own pocket to get this bill passed, because I don’t want any more starving, poor students who “accidentally” park in the wrong spot to have to pay through the nose.

    Props to you for being the best Mayor that Provo has ever seen. There are literally thousands of students who feel the same way I do. You are incredible for doing this!

    1. John

      Tyler – Thank you for the kind words. I get much of my energy from comments like yours.

      -John

    2. Bret

      Tyler, I have had very similar experiences as you. I completely agree with you! Now that I am out of school, I would be willing to help donate to make sure that this passes!

  7. Justin Kunz

    The towing companies are a joke in Provo. Everyone I know has been towed before and its just unfair. Thanks for siding with the city on this one.

  8. Jenn

    I think this is the best news for Provo if the ordinance is approved. About a year ago, I had a temporary handicapped parking pass because I had multiple surgeries on my foot. My handicapped decal fell off of my rearview mirror, and I was towed maybe an hour later. I went to the towing company (University Parking Enforcement) and the man followed me out to my car where the decal was laying clearly on the bottom of the car (he had insisted he looked and didn’t see it). When I opened my car door and pulled it out, he began saying that I had the decal with me somehow. It was insanity. I had several friends with me, who all protested because they had all seen what had really happened. He then said he was going to call the cops if we didn’t leave. I told him I couldn’t leave because my car was still there, so he promptly called the Provo Police. When they arrived, I explained the situation, and the two officers that responded to the scene immediately took my side, and told him that while he was in possession of my property, he couldn’t force me to leave, especially because I had done nothing wrong. I asked for the management contact information so I could find out more about what was happening to me, and the man kept refusing to give me any information. I ended up having to pay $200 (an absolutely absurd amount), and had to go without groceries for a few weeks to pay for it. I contacted the manager about my horrible and unfair experience and he said he would look into it, but nothing happened. Then, within the next month, 2 of my friends got towed, and a roommate was booted. I moved to Pleasant Grove to escape the horrible situation. I cannot believe how predatory these towing companies are, especially University Parking Enforcement. Provo would be a much better place to live if students and residents didn’t have to live in constant fear that they will end up having to pay through the nose for an unknown mistake and suffer greatly financially because of it.

  9. Justin

    Bravo, Mayor Curtis!

  10. I have been meaning to call you about my $170 tow last Thursday night. It was 5 degrees out. I arrived to watch a friends band perform at the Velour at 10pm. Left the place at 11:30. No car. The place closed. I am downtown in now 3 degree weather with a dead phone cause I used it to video the band. The car is a very nice BMW 328i wagon. Not rifraf… and Key Bank certainly was not out of parking that evening at 10 pm. I did not see the signs. One was buried in snow from the plows and I was FREEZING and running to the building and there were 2 other cars in the lot. My friends phone still fortunately worked. We called his girlfriend as the Taxi companies were not answering (the phone number was provided to us by University Towing) she left her small kids in Pleasant Grove and drove to Provo to drive us to the tow yard. If I have the choice to come eat downtown in Provo or go to Salt Lake County from here on out I am going to Salt Lake County. I am calling Key Bank as well. I was instrumental in getting them a $3M loan for the UCAOR building a couple of years ago. I have nothing but bad feelings for their business at this point. For me the money sucked but it was not half my rent or something. Standing in 3 degree weather for 40 minutes waiting for a ride to come from Pleasant Grove in the middle of the night was a bigger issue. I would have called Cecily Anna Lewis Zimbelman for a ride but my cell was dead and these days sister or not… I did not have the number. To think that they charge the same for a high school kid or BYU student where it literally is all their money to get the car out… Why no boot?.. Key bank needed that lot empty for customers at 11pm? The business has a concern about people loitering in their lot… in 4 degree weather? It is literally insane…

    1. Ryan

      The EXACT same thing happened to me at the end of October. Saw a band at the Velour and parked in the Key Bank lot because there wasn’t any other parking closer than 2 blocks away. Long story short, found out my car was towed just before 11pm. Fortunately my cousin hadn’t left yet either and was able to drive me to the tow yard. My car was there less than 15 minutes and I was charged $170. And that’s not all the tow fee, there’s some extra $35+ charge for something else. Ridiculous. It’s not like I was parked in front of a fire hydrant or anything, just an empty parking lot in the middle of the night. What the crap? A ticket for parking illegally elsewhere might be cheaper…

    2. Andrew

      I think Key Bank is more concerned about having abandoned cars in their lot. Towing after 11 pm would mean they wouldn’t be towing a customer’s car.

      1. Mike

        Andrew, (and this question is rhetorical, as I doubt you have any more reliable, concrete information about this than the rest of us), how big of an ‘abandoned car’ problem does Key Bank truly have? I would be willing to wager that they have less than a handful of cases in an entire year (if that), which cases would be aptly covered by the new law where the landlord initiates a tow when there is an honest issue that concerns Key Bank. Tow trucks lying in wait for people going to Velour for an hour in the middle of the night, so that they can steal their car once the owners are out of sight is unethical and indefensible. Tow truck company thieves try to justify and prop themselves up as the solution to a non-existent strawman of a problem.

  11. Mike

    I’m so glad that the great conflict of interest between those making the decisions to tow and those profiting from the decision is finally being broken. John, I applaud and appreciate you’re commitment to use your office and powers for the bettering of your communities.

  12. Brock

    I love that you are fighting this. I think the towing services are entirely predatory. I have been towed twice in my 3 years here totaling over $350. Neither of my offenses were intentional and one of which I still feel wasn’t justified in any way. I hate that I’ve lost that much money to towing companies who did nothing but ruin a good person’s day. Thanks for taking this fight to the city council. Even though I am about to graduate I hope you win this for future residents!

  13. Michael

    Amazing, Provo makes me sick. I go to BYU and moved to draper largely in part because of these issues. I’ve payed to get boots off my car and visiting friends cars more times than an entire zip code in Salt Lake.

  14. T-Bone

    I just wanted to comment on this because I hate the tow truck drivers.

  15. Elizabeth

    I remember being a waitress in Provo while I was a student. I came out when I was 17 years old from Washington, DC with $800 in my bank account. I bought my own car in cash. On several different occasions my car was either booted or towed from parking lots (parking inadvertently in the wrong spot when snow was piled up covering the sign), not putting my parking sticker for my apartment building on the first day of the new semester, having dates’ cars towed when they walked me inside my apartment, having my car towed when moving into a new apartment, etc, etc. Coming from downtown Washington, DC where people rarely drive anyway and towing is necessary to keep the narrow streets clear, it is absolutely absurd that a town like Provo would have such a liberal policy on towing. They have plenty of parking and open streets. I now own 3 homes in Utah and have to warn my tenants about parking because of the predatory towers which I have little to no control over. I’ve tried contacting my HOA to tell them that I don’t want mine or my tenants’ cars towed and they say they nor I have any power over the towing companies. It’s one of the reasons I don’t live in Provo anymore and one of the hardest parts of going back down there.

    1. Brian

      As a landlord I thought there was no way I would be towed. While I tried to fix a power outage I pulled into a church parking lot next door with 200 empty stalls. While I was in within sight of my vehicle a “university parking enforcement” truck backed up to my truck. I tried to talk to the tow truck driver and he told me because his truck was touching my vehicles tires I would have to pay the tow fee. I disagreed. I pulled forward out out of ” his touch”. He then chased me several blocks and called the Provo Police. I was baffled when an officer called me and told me I would be charged with thieft of services if I did not “pay up”. I could not believe the city was enforcing this theft. I contact the church FM group and was told they were offered a “all or nothing” service option. I did pay to avoid prosecution, but when I read the ordinance to the tow company and the officer they offered to only charge me the boot fee of $75. Was I surprised then when my card was charged $175.00? No, but I disputed it with my card carrier that force the refund of $100.00. I wish this was the only story I have.

  16. Mitchell Tate

    I was dating a girl in Provo, and everytime I went to see her I would park in the same spot cause there were no towing. I did this time after time and then finally after being with her one day all day I came back to my car to find a boot and a brand new sign placed in front of my car on the wall that I could clearly see, and that had been put up since I had been parked there. When the guy got there and I confronted him on the sign not being there when I parked there, he got very defensive and mad and wouldn’t help me with a number to call to dispute the boot or a date for when they had started booting in that location.

  17. Carter Smith

    I have been towed twice at Arlington by University Towing, both times I had a pass. One time they said it was “not visible” when it was sitting on my seat because it fell off the dash, and the other time they said my car “wasn’t parked correctly.” There was no discount, or any leniency and wouldn’t show me any proof that my car was parked incorrectly. They have robbed me of $400 for two bogus claims. That’s a lot for a BYU student who can barely feed himself. They are criminals and they should be sued for everything they’re worth. This was all in the last two months I’m still trying to make up for it.

    1. Mark

      I think it’s time for a class action lawsuit against the predatory towing companies.

      1. Carter Smith

        Please

  18. Mike

    I got booted at 10:01pm once as I walking to my car, I yelled to the employee as I saw him putting the boot on that I was literally leaving right then. No mercy he made me pay to take it off.

    1. Mike

      Technically, under the current law in the Provo City Code (assuming it hasn’t changed in the last 8 months or so), what they did was explicitly illegal (outside of being obviously unethical). If you come up on them in the process of putting a boot on, but the boot is not fully on and secured yet, it is illegal for them to continue putting the boot on and require you to pay anything. You have legitimate grounds for a small claims suit.

  19. Ryan

    I LOVE YOU MAYOR CURTIS! This is fabulous! I trust the Landlord… I just wish I could get my $1000+ back retroactively…

  20. Parker

    I have lived in the Boston, MA, area now for over 2 years, after living in Provo for five years. This is one of the absolutely most difficult cities to park and drive in, yet I see a mere pittance of boots/tows here compared to what I saw in Provo. Predatory is right! Well done, Mayor!

  21. Rodney

    Thank you mayor Curtis! This is an issue that needed to be fixed.

  22. Jessica

    Hey Mayor Cutris, I just wanted to say that I 100% agree and love what you are doing for Provo. It is nice to see someone considering the students. Thanks for all you do.

  23. Ryan

    Define what “reasonable visitor parking may be and please require 1 parking space for each tenant plus 1 Visitor’s space per apartment / dwelling.
    Also, in my above comment the event link was cut short. You can find it at fb.com/Rypskip.

    1. RobM

      1 visitor’s space per apartment is a bit of a ridiculous request. Where is the land for all those parking spots going to come from?

  24. Mike L

    Mayor Curtis, I have never been towed/booted in Provo. However, when an ordinance or law is bad, it’s bad. I 100% agree with this change. But the city needs to make sure proper signage is in place warning of towing. Then have the property owner make the call.

  25. Jimmy

    It’s about time! I HATE the EVIL tow trucks down here!!! I’m a poor student!

  26. Michael Miller

    I have been predatorily towed 3 times and booted once while living in Provo. Everytime it was just an honest mistake and would not have happened had the property owner been informed first. This is an unbelievably overdue ordinance change and completely necessary. Tow company’s are blood sucking parasites in Provo that provide a service without consent that most people don’t want. Perfect way to remedy the problem and hopefully get rid of the 30 aggressive tow trucks circling Provo every night.

    1. Andrew

      30 tow trucks is quite an overstatement for the 4 impound trucks that are out there.

      1. Brian

        I’m glad your moderating this for the tow company’s. How much will you make tonight?

  27. James M. Marshall

    Where I understand the demonization of towing companies, personal responsibility to park in spots that don’t impede traffic, parking or violate tenant parking stalls can be a heated issue. Our business sits right next to BYU approved housing and even though the sign at our entrance states, “DO NOT PARK HERE WITHOUT A PERMIT”, you’d be surprised at how many students have the gonads to do so and then get upset, like they’re entitled to violate our parking enforcement, when the towing company comes to collect. Quite simply, if you don’t know if you can park somewhere, FIGURE IT OUT. I’m a small business owner in Provo and I’m all for my towing company monitoring the situation as they see fit at my business.

    1. Jeremy

      James it sounds like you are one of the few businesses in this town that have a legitimate claim to having a towing service. You have it clearly marked, which is rare! Also you as the owner are agreeing with the service being provided. Too many others have a service that is going well beyond their intentions and don’t have clear markings as to what is not allowed.

      1. Matthew

        Honestly, most of the parking lots in Provo are adequately marked. I’ve never been towed because I always check whether I can park in a parking lot BEFORE I park. I realize the towing companies may have problems, but it’s not really that hard to avoid being towed if drivers just take the responsibility to check before parking.

  28. Buck Bailey

    As a victim of predatory towing I agree with this solution. I understand that people should be towed when in fact blatantly violating a sign or clearly designated no parking area. I work for a tow company in park city and understand how difficult it can be for tow companies to deal with people who have been towed because wether it was there fault or not people are not happy. However I was towed this fall after parking at a friends house for one hour. I looked high and low when i exited my car there were signs saying 24/7 quite zone all over and that was it i even walked up the street to see if there were any signs i didn’t see anything that said no parking period. I came back and my car was gone. I asked the towing company where the signs were i found one at the end of the street a 100 yards away pointed toward another street that sat a foot off of the ground. I asked how it was possible that was the only sign in the area. You would only know it was there if you had been towed before. They respond “thats all that the city requires.” I believe that better signage would also be a helpful requirement to add to this new ordinance. also my car was not blocking anyone there were open spots and it was the middle of the day towing was not there only option but it did make them the most money 250 bucks. A warning or even a 50 dollar boot would have been more than sufficient.

  29. Teal

    The problem I found was unclear signs, unrealistic regulations, and overcharging.

    Placement of signs, outdated and fading signs…I believe that there should be a standardization of parking signs and regulations on where they should be placed and how long before they become affective. I also believe that placement and regulation should be put in place by HOAs and should be clearly labeled by parking entrances.

    Parking rules vary, I remember parking on the wrong side of a sign with an arrow. Another time when on a date, we had carpooled with another couple, but had left our car in the other couple’s parking spot and found that my date’s car had been towed. That had to have been the most expensive date I’ve ever been on.

    When visiting The Riveira, I used to have to set the alarm on my cell phone when I’d visit my friends. It became second nature because one time my phone died and I thought to look at a clock, realized what time it was, and ran out to literally run between my car and the tow truck as it was backing up. The guy was ticked.

    Finally, there is no reason for towing companies to be able to charge that much.

  30. Ryan

    Parking in Provo especially in east Provo is horrendous. I personally have been a victim of pretitory towing and because the main roads by seven peaks which are perfectly wide enough to park on are all no parking zones it forces students and residence alike to fight for parking over by the housing complex king Henry. Or over on a remote street called locust lane. It’s a mess a Provo city I’m sure is getting their cut of the profits from the towing which is why no parking situations have changed and nobody seems to care about the student population. Or residence. Because of logistics I personally can’t really have friends come over or even family that just wants to “stop by” has to park several blocks away and has to be part of the rat race. Provo needs to stop punishing their huge student popation. Which is a huge contributor to the tax base.

  31. Kyle

    Line 261 is ridiculous. One of the previous comments mentions being booted as he was walking towards his car. Is he really to wait two hours now before it can be removed? It seems to me that if a vehicle is in violation of parking regulations, then it would be beneficial to have the car removed from the premises sooner rather than later, whether it’s by the towing company or the owner. What does booting accomplish anyway? If I’m a property owner and I have a legitimate problem with a vehicle on my lot (i.e. they don’t have a permit and the lot is full, or they’re parking in a HC stall), I don’t want it stuck there. I want it gone. Overall, I think there should be less towing and no booting.

  32. Chris

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for continuing to work at this issue. So many people I know and myself have been victims of predatory booting and towing from these dishonest companies multiple times.

    I’d like to suggest the possibility of a mandatory warning on the vehicle’s first time.

  33. Bart

    Mayor Curtis — Thank you so much for working to understand and come to an agreement on this issue. This will make Provo a better place.

  34. Brian

    My car was involved in an accident on March 18, 2013. Express Towing was called by the police officer investigating the accident, and they arrived and moved my car to their lot, less than three miles away. The car was in their lot for approximately 24 hours. I was hoping to only be charged the typical $70 – $85, but I was charged $312. I asked for a breakdown of the charges and this is what I was told:

    $193.33 towing,
    $50 storage on their lot,
    $38.67 fuel surcharge,
    $30 state doc fee.

    Every charge seems exhorbitant and predatory to me. The car was towed less than three miles, for $193.33? Plus a fuel surcharge was $38.67 for a three-mile tow? That’s enough to buy 10 gallons of gas at current prices! And $30 for a state doc fee? This was an accident, not an impound! The bottom line is that I was charged over $100 per mile for this tow. You can reach your own conclusion here.

  35. Rachel

    Huzzah!!! This is the best!

  36. Johnathan

    after a church activity I went to a root beer thirsty thursday near BYU, because parking regulations are not fallowed in having enough parking for people in complexes there was no were to park, so I parked in a church parking lot thinking things would be fine. I was there for an hour and had my car towed. I was the only car in the lot.

    later I parked my car in my own complex but had a sticker in the front of the window because the tint in the back was too dark, I got booted for parking in front of my own apartment in my own driveway. and the management couldn’t do any thing about the fact that I had to pay to get the boot off

  37. Heidi

    I’m so glad you are doing this! My husband and I had our car towed from an empty lot on a Saturday morning within minutes after parking. We had our three small children with us-all still in car seats. There was no reason to tow us and it left me and our children stranded while my husband found a ride to get the car out of the yard. We couldn’t just get a ride home because we didn’t have car seats for the little ones. It also cost us our grocery budget for the rest of the month.

  38. Michal

    LINE 148: “the owner of the subject real property or the owner’s agent”. What’s to keep the towing operator from adding some clause in their contract with the property owner that they can act as an agent?

    1. John

      Michael – There’s language in the ordinance which prohibits those who profit from the action to initiate the tow.

      -John

      1. Brian D

        Thank you. Can we also request that those requesting a towing action list their name and affiliation to the property.

  39. Pat

    The predatory towing affects everyone, but especially poor students and young families. As a student, I lived across the street from a church south of BYU , and more than once saw the tow truck driver break their own rules on the signs about no parking. He would tow two or three cars and leave them in the church parking lot forbidding parking without a permit, while he went back for other cars rather than making the longer trip to the tow yard. The owners of the cars would have to wait for him to make his multiple return trips between the church and tow yard before they would be allowed to retrieve their car. What a scam.

    1. Perry

      We see the same thing down West Center St. where the tow truck drivers gather several vehicles to a temporary holding area in the Subway parking lot near Geneva Road before towing them to the impound lot.
      We need to also put a fee limit in this bill to limit the tow and other charges to $50 total or less, as other cities do. This may discourage the greedier drivers, as they will only get $16.60 for a typical 33% cut, for example.

      1. Andrew

        $50 for a tow won’t even cover the expenses of running a tow truck.

    2. RobM

      Maybe the church should charge the towing company a storage fee. 🙂

      1. Mike

        I can’t believe the LDS Church even deals with these unscrupulous towing companies to begin with (for example, University Parking Enforcement [UPE] is contracted to monitor the church on approx. 700 S 950 E, and UPE is possibly the worst offender with the worst reputation). When initially considering the most effective way to approach correcting the unethical practices of certain tow companies, I was thinking of approaching the tow companies’ major customers and revealing to them the terrible reputation and practices of the tow companies (that they virtually employ by allowing them free reign on their lots). If the church had the full scope of abuses of these companies, there is no way they would allow themselves to be associated with them. That is like the church having a contract with the Mob.

  40. Andy

    Another main issue i see with these companies is the once you are towed, even if it wasn’t a legal tow, they refer you to the court system to get your money back. This is an unacceptable way to run a business. When a business makes a mistake they should own up to it and let people get their vehicles back. My truck was towed from the belmont parking lot. The signage clearly reads 30 MINUTE visitor parking. My tow receipt showed that my truck was towed after only 25 minutes! This may seem small and insignificant to many but 5 minutes means I am within my legal right to get my truck back WITH NO FEE! Never the less they refused to release my truck without payment and then told me I could “hash” it out in court. They know that students don’t have the money or resources to take them to small claims court. Very frustrating and VERY DISHONEST!

  41. Tom Hooke

    Wow this is a great step in the right direction. I really can’t understand how the OBVIOUS conflict of interest of the towing company was overlooked back in 2005. Epic fail. And to top it off, the drivers are paid a commission for each tow that they initiate?! Incredible. Even more incredible that this has been allowed to go on for so long. The decision to tow needs to be transferred back to the third party whose responsibility it really is–the property owner/management.

  42. Richard

    From 2002-2011 I owned 4 condos at Belmont. Instead of buying more I decided to sell them all, in large part because of the gestapo-like tow companies that created all kinds of parking issues for my tenants, their friends, and families. I never understood why previous Provo Mayors and city councils passed laws that directly penalized the largest driver of their economy…students and visitors related to the universities. For years Provo politicians willfully turned a deaf ears to students and surprisingly even to me as an investor in their city when I complained on a number of occasions.

    During my years dealing with Provo, it was clear city hall was convinced that students were the enemy and enacted all kinds of laws favoring the minority of non-student voters living south of campus. It was as if these people didn’t know they had moved into the epicenter of student housing.

    Keep this Mayor, this simple action is indicative of a politician actually in touch with reality and evidently willing to resolve real issues. This one is way bigger than draining kids’ bank accounts. It’s affected everything, given Provo a bad name all over Utah, and always comes up in conversations with out-of-state students and parents considering BYU and UVU.

    These tow companies, with whom I’ve had the displeasure of speaking with on a number occasions, have been preying on the meager bank accounts of defenseless students for way to long.

    Well done.

  43. Dennis

    We run a business in Provo and have been fighting the tow companies for years. I was backed up to the back door unloading at our business in the alley and was towed and could not do a thing about it. We have had our clients towed many times. Our landlord was terrible and I feel they had something going on with the tow company.

  44. Nate

    I think there is also a need for provisions to deal with extreme, unsafe, or emergency conditions. Cases of extreme weather, unsafe areas, personal family emergencies, etc, can cause a simple boot to cascade into harsh situations.

    Much of the ordinance assumes that the person who has been towed will have quick access to a phone and a form of payment. Neither may be true in many, many circumstances.

    Requiring towing companies to conduct themselves in a manner that shows intention to maintain basic public safety should be a corner stone of what allows them to be certified. For example, it could be required that towers check lots for stranded motorists where they have booted or towed every n minutes if temperatures are below a given point or if it is after a given hour. There could be a right to have the return of a vehicle expedited under certain conditions. Towers could be required to offer people to be billed later (with the right to send it to collections, of course.) These ideas are far from perfect — they’re just some illustrative examples of ways they could be harmful. After all, their role isn’t to punish people for bad parking – it’s to help preserve real property owners rights.

    1. Andrew

      One thing to remember about the tow companies is they have heard every story in the book about why the car shouldn’t have been towed. It makes them rather cynical which rubs a lot of people wrong. (Imagine that, the ones towed creating the issues they complain about) With the number of lawsuits the tow companies deal with deferred payments on the tows would create another huge issue. If you think tows cost a lot now raise the cost of doing business for the tow company. If the costs go up the state will authorize an increase in the fees so the business will stay profitable instead of running at a loss. Think about that before saying “The tow company should do…”

      1. Mike

        Andrew, whether or not it would inconvenience the tow company and whether or not it would potentially raise the tow companies’ costs to release peoples’ private property and deal with payment collection like every other business, it is UNCONSTITUTIONAL to seize someone else’s private property and require them to buy it back from you. The ‘appeals’ process would certainly be a lot more interesting (and unbiased) if the tow company was on equal grounds with the tow victims, and their only recourse to collect their money was from suing the individual with an unassociated 3rd party (a judge in a court) being the arbiter to decide who is in the right (rather than how it currently is, with allowing the owner of the company who is profiting from the tow to be judge, jury and executioner of the appeals process and decide if they would like to give some of their ill-gotten profit back to the victim).

      2. Mike

        Who knows, maybe the number of lawsuits would actually go down, as the shady tow companies may elect not to pursue a lawsuit on the illegal tows that they know they would lose if a 3rd party were to hold them accountable.

      3. Mike

        And if the cost of running a tow company where you are constantly getting sued for unethical/illegal tows were to go up, there isn’t only a single option of ‘raising the fees to remain profitable’. In free enterprise, the ever-available option for a company that is unable to stay profitable and is running at a loss is to close up shop. It definitely wouldn’t be a bad thing to whittle this corrupt industry down to the ethical few who only complete legal, ethical tows and avoid excessive lawsuits to stay profitable.

      4. Brian an Owner

        @Andrew. Those who pay you are your customers. We as property owners are not. It appears you are on the wrong side of this. As you defend your job remember many prior actions are what got towers to this point. This kind of fervor does come from happy clients.

  45. Pam

    I propose an interactive site or device with Q&As on parking issues in Provo.
    1. Where can motorists find out what the parking regulations are?
    2. Who decides how many parking spots an apartment/condo complex should have?
    3. How are towing and booting fees calculated?
    4. What information should be posted for parking restrictions?
    5. How much leeway should be given for timed zones, alignment within stalls, emergencies, etc.?
    6. What legal rights do property owners have?
    7. Why are parking areas restricted at all?
    Feel free to add your own.

      1. Pam

        Thanks, Steve. I haven’t been a student for–never mind how many decades–but I am touched by the sad tales I’m hearing. I asked for a Q&A format to make the law easier to understand. I’m still wondering if the code link is readily available to those who really need it. Besides, this link is to state legislative action from probably last March and does not include specific information that was to be reported and recommended by August.

      2. Andrew

        Pam anyone who starts asking pointed questions will find out what the laws are. Most people who complain don’t want to know because it bursts their victim bubble.

      3. Mike

        Most tow companies hate when people ask pointed questions and would love to keep the information about the laws and rights of the tow victims shrouded in ‘legalese’ and virtually only accessible by going through the arduous state code.

        I agree Pam, once all of these new changes are made to the law (assuming they pass), I think it would be prudent to draft a specific web page with a simple ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ format explaining the most important parts of the law and plainly stating the towee’s rights, including appeals process and contact information for the individuals responsible for the oversight of the tow companies.

  46. Drew Botcherby

    Thank you! This will improve our city so much. I’ll be there on Tuesday.

  47. Payden

    Mayor Curtis, you are doing the right thing. I don’t think I know any student in Provo that hasn’t had an extremely negative and frustrating experience with towing and booting. My own experiences have left me feeling powerless. Last Fall, I shelled out $50 to get a parking pass to my complex, but ended up paying over $250 over the course of the semester to University Parking. Once I was booted because the convertible top of my car was down, so my pass was “not visible,” and the other time I was towed because during the night, my emergency brake let up and my car creeped out of the stall. When I asked to see a photo or video to just get an idea of how far it had actually backed out of the stall, they told me that I couldn’t see it unless I took them to court. For all I know, my car could have been only six inches out of the stall. All the person on the phone told me was that it was clear that it had backed out of the stall (where I had correctly parked the night before). When I asked if I could contest the tow, I was told that I could, but that it was “unlikely” to be approved, could take weeks, and that for every day my car was in the impound lot, I would be fined an additional $25. I had no choice but to just pay the ridiculous $175 to get my car back. There was no way to fight back. Also, I don’t often use my car, so it could have been days before I even realized it was gone. I wasn’t notified by the towing company, by police, or by my complex. At first I thought for sure my car had been stolen because I had a parking pass and had parked legally the night before. Thank you, Mayor Curtis, for your understanding and commitment to change this.

  48. Steve

    Mayor Curtis, Fix this problem and then run for Governor.

  49. Kent Purdy

    I’m so glad to see the mayor on top of this issue.

  50. Jeremy

    Is it also not possible for us to give some sort of tax break to the businesses downtown to allow for public parking after their hours of business are up. There are lots of parking spaces that would be made available if these lots could be used instead of restricted.

  51. Andy

    This is definitely a good thing. It’ll keep horrible towing companies like KPE (or Express Towing) more in check and more “honest.”

  52. Kaylee

    All I can say is THANK YOU! This needed to happen a long time ago but I am so happy it is happening now! Thank you!

  53. Tracy Hall

    It’s rare to see the promotion of checks and balances at the local level, or to see awareness of the corrupting influence and unintended consequences that arise when there is a conflict of interest. Thank you for addressing this issue!

  54. rodney

    I was at my friend’s house recently when he had his own car towed from his own driveway. The Tow truck operator said that my friend’s left-rear wheel was touching the asphalt. I was appalled to the fact that he was legally able to do this. It’s no surprise that injustices such as this happen on a daily basis, principally because these people are paid off commission. Receiving commission for towing or booting a car is an unethical practice that obviously has no benefit and is conducive to looking for reasons to tow someone, rather than towing a vehicle that is being a nuisance.
    I have also paid particular attention to a shuttle bus that runs from several of the major housing complexes to BYU. This bus is called the Ryde bus, it is owned and operated by UPE. On their facebook page they boast “public transportation at half the cost.” This “less expensive form of transportation,” is made possible from unethically towing and booting Provo residents on a daily basis. They subsidize the bus fares with the money made through parking enforcement. Is the Ryde bus operating to “help” college students? Of course not, it is a mere tax shelter for the hundreds of thousands made from predatory towing. If UPE was concerned about the well-being of college students, they wouldn’t be exploiting them 7 days a week. To many this may be a novel concept, but it would be a lot easier for residents to afford their own form of transportation if they didn’t always have to worry about getting towed. Not to mention when they do get towed they usually pay more than they make in an entire week to get their car back.
    Thank you Mayor Curtis and the Provo City council for addressing the single biggest issue Provo City faces. This action has helped me regain trust in the power we have as citizens.

  55. McKay

    Thankyou for considering fixing this problem. My son recently had to spend all of his summer lifeguard earnings to pay for his car which was towed from a parking lot at Panda express. He had eaten there and then left for a movie with no idea his truck would be towed. My four children have attended BYU over the past 8 years, and I have been completely and thoroughly astounded at the towing companies who seem to stalk the areas around BYU. It is really seems hostile, vicious, and like the students have absolutely no choice or way to protest this. Thankyou so very much.

  56. Josh Wilson

    It is about time! We have all felt the unnecessary pain caused by predatorial towing. I have had my car taken from me even when it was the fault of the property it was on. This needs to stop, we need this changed.

    John Curtis for president!

  57. Nathanael

    I have lost so much money because of boots and tows over the year. I even have paid property owners for a private parking spot, and then got booted while parking there.

  58. Lynn Stallard

    The real concern here seems to be a lack of legal parking spaces. The city has all of these beautiful projects that have been completed like the Covey Center for the Arts and the Convention Center. None of them have adequate parking. I drove around on Center Street for 30 minutes trying to get to my friends business there before I could locate a parking spot. It was crazy and it wasn’t even lunch time. How can center street businesses survive if there is nowhere to park? I don’t know too many people willing to look for a spot for 30 min.

    1. John

      Lynn – Thank you for taking the time to post on my blog. I’d encourage you to contact my office and set up an appointment to talk about downtown, parking, and what’s been done to help.

      -John

  59. Steve

    You can boot all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t boot all of the people all of the time.

    The mayor is exactly right when he says “follow the money” and finds a problem.

    Creative, ingenious, computer savvy bootees should be able to find a gentle, peaceful, adequate way to boot the booters and tame the towers.

    Who owns the towing companies? Do they have a website? Do they have e-mail? Do they have a phone? Do they use a certain bandwith in radio communication?

    Be good. Do right. Ask: What would Ghandi do were he a geek?

  60. Scott

    This would be perfect if it passed! Last year I was dropping off a date, I walked her to her door, said good night, and walked back to my car to find a towing company hooking up my car to be towed. I must’ve been gone for 2 minutes. The vultures were sitting there, waiting for someone to park without a permit. I tried to fight it, but they wouldn’t budge, and ended up giving me a $80 charge for dropping the tow. I feel lucky for cathcing it before they could drive off with my car, but I don’t think anyone should feel lucky for paying $80 instead of $200 just for dropping off a date and coming back to their car. Put the decision to tow back in the hands of the property owners!

  61. Perry

    The predatory tow truck companies stalking Provo are sociopathic bloodsucking leeches who properly belong in prison. Why can’t we just outlaw all of them and grant license to operate within city limits to only the ethical ones?

  62. Joseph

    My sister-in law stopped by my wife’s and my apartment to give us cookies one night about a year ago. She parked in our visitor parking stall, but her visitor parking pass had fallen from the windshield so it was not visible. She dropped off the cookies to us, chatted, was there for about 15 minutes total, and when she left her car had been towed. She ended up paying over $200 to get the vehicle back even though we went immediately to pick it up from the towing yard. I understand that the parking pass was not visible and that’s why she got towed, however $200 for a college student is a high price and unmanageable for a lot of college students who are trying to pay for books, gas, food, rent, etc.

  63. Joseph

    Thanks, Mayor Curtis, for your work on this topic, if for nothing else than to help us college students get through college with as little financial hardship as is reasonable.

  64. Wes

    John, you are now one of my favorite people of all time. Thank you for taking time to address this glaring black spot on the history of Provo. Anyone who has spent significant time in Provo over the last 10 years is familiar with the misery that predatory towing/booting companies have inflicted on Provo’s residents. I lived in Provo for 6 years (2 of them post-2005, when I was working as a dentist near BYU) and observed countless ruined evenings thanks to the unscrupulous tactics of “University Parking Enforcement”. I was once booted in the very lot where I worked as a dentist! (It was “after hours”) When I told the employee that I worked in the building, he didn’t care. The only thing he cared about was the $50 commission he received from the boot on my car. After speaking with him for awhile, I found out that he made more money in a week than I did! I wondered how a city like Provo could allow such a predatory practice to continue. Well, finally Provo has a mayor who cares about its residents!

    John, let me know if you ever need campaign donations. You are an inspiration to so many of us!

  65. Ed Kern

    I am in support of anything that will stop University Parking from towing my car from the curb outside my own house.

  66. Thank you, John! It’s so good when leaders are willing to admit errors (from previous administrations, even) and fix community problems. My family has only suffered a few unjust cases of booting/towing, along with several others which we deserved & paid. Tomorrow’s actions should rectify much of the problem, and we salute you!

  67. JK

    The ordinance is not enough. I actually read it.

    Unless the fees are mandated by the State, they remain way too high; booted vehicles should be left at least 24hrs before being towed, or this will entirely defeat their purpose; 9.31.110 (9)(a) – line 267 should be required print on all receipts/window stickers. And if I can be fined $1000 for tampering with a boot (according to the big yellow sticker in my window), why is the civil penalty only $500 FOR ILLEGALLY SEIZING MY CAR!!!!!!!!!

    1. Chris

      Unless? They are. The fees actually used to be about HALF before regulation. As far as the boot, it is simply a way to ensure the vehicle is “trapped” so that a tow truck can hurry over and tow the vehicle. This is one area I agree on. If booted there should be a 24hr minimum before tow.

  68. ERW

    I agree–I no longer live in Provo, and one of the biggest reasons I’m glad is the insane parking situation. My car was towed last year at my friend’s place when there was NO SIGN (and no “visitor” parking) in a huge parking lot with tons of empty spaces. That $150 hurt. Thank you, Mayor, for seeing a legitimate problem and taking action.

  69. Chad

    Finally a solution to a huge problem here in provo. I have personally never been booted or towed, but I’ve seen it happen to others on numerous occasions. I currently live in a house next to an apartment complex and it’s fascinating to see how it only takes minutes (seconds even!!) to see the tow truck driver show up and haul away the unsuspecting victims. I watch them sometimes just circle the block, waiting for you to get just far enough away from your vehicle and BAM! they swoop in and take their prey. I remember a time when all you got was the boot if anything.. now they just skip right to the towing, it’s ridiculous! My friend came over after work for 10 minutes just to say hey, and his car was gone! Anyways, it’s time to put end to all of this so thank you Mayor for your hard work!

    1. Chris

      Its actually $72.50 on the spot by regulation, has been for years. As long as the vehicle is not fully loaded and is simply hooked. Fully loaded and ready to roll is $145 on the spot. At the yard is $145 + fees.

  70. Chris

    It’s in the paperwork, Utah allready has strict guidelines. There’s really not much that can be done except, oh, I dunno, enforce them maybe? Educate the public. Enforce a 1 hour maximum rate on private non-consent tows. Require the fees to be clearly posted on signs. In case no one knows them, $145/hr, $30 admin fee, $15 fuel surcharge(adjusts),$25/day storage, and if applicable $50 after hours fee. So. Monday at 9am your car is towed, at 2pm Monday it’s $215. At 530pm it’s $265 because it’s after office hours. The tow trucks cost anywhere from 40k to 400k so it’s not ever going to be cheap. I’ve seen anywhere from honest, to $600 to get a car released the next day. Only way it takes more than an hour is if it’s upside down in a tree, or the operator of the tow truck is drunk. Beyond that, a point a to point b tow takes ONE hour, hooked, towed, dropped, and entered in system.

  71. Howard

    I liv in Lamp[loighter eeststes,provo, and my grand dauther parked her csar in frfont of my driveway, and the tow truck was watching ,he dropped his kit aand my wife saw him do this and begin to tell him to leave, she then had a heart attack, and passed away.aomething has to be done.Howard

  72. Perry

    Some of the predatory tow truck companies in Provo are nothing more than legalized robbers. The sooner we can reform the law to get these thieves out of town the better. They do prey on people, and Provo is not for predators.

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