SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – New rules are proposed for “predatory” towing after people complained of paying hundreds to get their cars back.
“What we’re calling ‘predatory’ is when a company hires a wrecker service to patrol their lot looking for improper parking, parking without a tag, or sticker,” Spartanburg Police Sgt. Ronnie Forrester said.
Spartanburg City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance that caps those charges and sets other regulations.
“This is ridiculous,” Latreace Jones said of a $285 towing bill. “That’s not right.” She said her boyfriend was accused of double parking at the Reserve at Hillcrest Apartments.
Sergeant Forrester says a lot of other people have been complaining too.
“When you start hearing a $300, a $400, or higher tow bill… Why is it costing that much?” he said.
City leaders said they are addressing the issue of towing on commercial properties, after examining similar ordinances in other municipalities like Greenville.
“Staff is trying to strike a balance between the property rights of the lot owners – the property owners to regulate their property – keep people from parking where they’re not supposed to and also respect the rights of the vehicle owners,” said City Manager Ed Memmott during Monday’s council meeting.
Council voted 6-0 in favor of an ordinance that caps the predatory towing charge at $100 and daily storage fee at $20 after 24 hours. City leaders say the price corresponds with the charge for towing disabled or broken down vehicles in public right-of-ways.
“We have been empowered to look after our citizens, and protect them when we can,” said Sgt. Forrester. “We’re not against companies making money.”
Not all towing companies are on board. An attorney spoke against the ordinance on behalf of Cole Towing and Recovery.
“The changes will have a negative impact not only on my client but other towing companies,” attorney John Strickland said. “There are liabilities or dangers that happen to my client, or could happen.”
TCB Automotive and Towing was one of the companies in support of the ordinance.
“When you charge people $300 and $400, sometimes they can’t afford that and will end up losing their car over it,” said David Ward with TCB Automotive and Towing. “I think it [ordinance] regulates it, everybody’s charging the same, there are no surprises.”
The second reading of this ordinance happens at council’s April 10th meeting. If approved, the new rules would go into effect in 30 days.