After years of complaints, Asheville City Council is poised to put teeth in a towing ordinance.
Council on Tuesday will consider adopting a local law regulating “non-consensual towing.” Elected officials have struggled over the years to find an effective way to regulate local towing companies that many believe take advantage of illegal parkers by charging charging exorbitant fees and making it difficult to pay.
The new ordinance:
• Caps the fee for a completed tow at $100
• Requires a tow service to release the vehicle on the spot if it hasn’t completed the tow and the vehicle operator pays up.
• Requires towers to accept credit and debit cards for the payment of fees.
• Requires a tow service to move vehicles to a lot with a 10-mile radius of downtown Asheville or Biltmore Village.
• Requires towers to notify police that a vehicle has been towed within 30 minutes of the vehicle’s removal.
• Requires towers to have a person on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, who can acknowledge requests to retrieve a vehicle within 15 minutes and release a vehicle within 45 minutes.
• Makes it a violation of the law for a vehicle operator to cancel payment of a towing fee made by credit or debit card.
• Makes it illegal for anyone to interfere with any tow service that is carrying out a tow.
Acts of what some call “predatory towing” received renewed attention last year, when a report to City Council showed it was having a negative impact on local tourism. In December, the Asheville Police Department conducted a sting operation and arrested two employees of All-Safe Towing who hitched up and towed a car the police had legally parked in a Lexington Avenue parking lot.
On Dec. 10, Mountain Xpress reported that Asheville City Council was preparing to change local ordinances in coming months with the goal of curbing predatory towing.
Click here to go to the Xpress Files and read the proposed towing ordinance.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor