Non-consensual towing ordinance proposed in Spartanburg

SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – Regulating non-consensual towing is back up for discussion in the city of Spartanburg. City leaders are looking to strengthen recently enacted rules for towing companies.

City manager Ed Memmott said staff worked with the Spartanburg Police Department to recommend these changes for non- consensual towing in the city.

Spartanburg City Council July 10, 2017 Agenda – towing ordinance starts page 14

“I had a woman reach out to me saying she couldn’t get access to her vehicle to retrieve her cancer medication,” said Councilman Alan Jenkins. “Companies have a right to make sure their parking lots are monitored but we also have to be humane about it and we have to be civil.”

It’s one reason he voted with fellow councilmen to pass the first reading of a towing ordinance.

“Staff believes these changes would strengthen the code,” said City Manager Ed Memmott. “Strike the right balance between the rights of the property owner to control their property and also protect folks who may have their vehicles towed.”

The proposed amendments to the current ordinance are as follows:

  • Require towing operators to have a storage facility in the city or within two miles of the city
  • Staff storage facilities for no less than 4 hours per day between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. for no less than 6 days per week
  • Allow for the recovery of personal property from a vehicle in storage
  • Allow an owner or authorized driver to recover a towed vehicle
  • Clarify procedures for revocation of a towing permit and/or the business license of a towing company that violates the ordinance

“It’s pretty sad that it’s come to the point that people (city leaders) are having to do this,” said Chris Catoe, Regional Supervisor for Associates Asset Recovery. “When we do our non-consensual tows, we release 24 hours.”

He has been in the towing business for 17 years and says he doesn’t have issues with the ordinance.

“It’s sad for the other companies because they don’t always look at the name on the truck. It’s ‘this towing company is a towing company and he’s just as crooked as the other one,’” said Catoe. “The city’s first and foremost goal is to protect the citizens of their city and by doing this – they actually have a handle on, they can control this.”

Earlier this year city leaders passed an ordinance that capped towing fees within Spartanburg after getting complaints from residents about excessively high costs.

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