Ordinance amendment stops predatory towing in Provo

Posted at 10:32 PM, Dec 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-18 00:33:40-05

PROVO, Utah -- After a year and a half of debates, the city of Provo has amended an ordinance to combat predatory towing.

Property owners, or their agents, including a resident, must now request for an illegally parked vehicle to be towed.  The tow company can no longer initiate that.  Mayor John Curtis says that removes the profit incentive and can cut down on predatory practices.

Tuesday night's council meeting was packed.  Many BYU students listened as Mayor Curtis presented the plan and said towing practices in Provo have created a public relations nightmare.  Some don't want to do business downtown and some students don't want to live in the city because they've had to pay more than $200 to recover their vehicles that were towed.  And while many admit they're at fault for parking illegally, they say they've been towed for minor infractions and during quick visits and they feel the punishment doesn't fit the crime.

Now, the responsibility falls on the property owner and they want the tow companies to initiate any action, the only way is to enter into a contract with the tow company that requires following a series of rules.  Property managers musts have adequate visitor parking, 24/7 access to a temporary parking permit, an appeals process, bolder signage and a cap of $175 for tows and $60 for boots.

Tuesday's council meeting drew a number of public comment including different opinions from tow operators.

"This ordinance needs to happen.  we need to make the change to protect the public and protect the city of Provo," said tow company owner Robin Roberts.

Mike Lamont with University Parking Enforcement had a very viewpoint.

"This legislation is unreasonable and inappropriate," said Lamont  "Not only does it violate over 300 contracts I have in Provo but most importantly it violates property owners constitutional rights."

The council disagreed and will implement the amended ordinance February 1st.
It'll be reviewed in a year to determine whether it's successful.