(Theft victim’s car in tow-company lot, marked “NIDDLES (needles) … BIOHAZARD”)
Just in from the City Council – a news release announcing that the proposal to limit fees in cases of “involuntary towing” has passed a committee vote and is headed for the full council next week. We reported on the proposal earlier this month. We incluided the proposal with the story of a West Seattle woman who first lost her car (above) to theft and then had to sign it over to a towing company because she couldn’t afford the fees that had amassed since it was found and towed without prompt notification. Read on for the council announcement:
The City Council’s Government Performance and Finance Committee today voted 3-0 to cap fees for impound tows off private property.
The legislation, sponsored by Councilmember Licata, and originally sent to the Council by Mayor McGinn, would place a limit of $183 per hour for the first hour of an impound tow off private property, and $130 for any additional time. It also limits storage rates to $15.50 for up to 12 hours.
Councilmember Licata said, “This legislation protects consumers by setting a fair maximum rate for impounds off private property. It is reasonable to charge for illegal parking on private property, however, people shouldn’t have to pay exorbitant fees to recover their vehicle. The Mayor and Council collaborated in crafting and passing this legislation.”
“I want to thank Councilmember Nick Licata and the entire City Council for working to protect Seattle residents and visitors from predatory business practices,” said Mayor McGinn. “We look forward to the implementation and enforcement of these new rules in January 2013.”
“Setting this cap represents basic consumer protection,” said Councilmember Clark. “We should all be so lucky as to never be towed, but, if we do get towed, it should be a fair rate that represents fair compensation for the tow truck operator and not punitive or predatory.”
Currently, there are no legal limits on what towing companies can charge for tows off private property. Impounds off City streets are negotiated with the Seattle Police Department.
Implementation is planned for January, 2013. A Full Council vote is anticipated for Monday, September 24.
State Representative Pollet, who sponsored legislation passed by the state House of Representatives to set maximum rates, said “This is a major step forward for protecting Seattle residents. It’s encouraging that the towing industry recognizes that there are some companies whose charges were abusive, and I look forward to working with the industry and Seattle to expand this protection statewide.”
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