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Towing Fee Increase in the Works

by ARLnow.com March 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm 2,589 49 Comments

On Saturday, the county board is scheduled to consider whether to advertise a hearing regarding changes to Arlington’s towing ordinance.

The proposed changes would increase the amount towing companies can charge and would require more detailed signs at businesses where towing is enforced.

County staffers are recommending the board increase the base towing fee from $115 to $125, the maximum rate allowed by Virginia law. The rate would apply to vehicles under 7,500 lbs., according to Brian Stout, who handles towing issues for the county. Stout says the increase is consistent with the rates charged by neighboring communities.

Another proposed change would apply to large trucks over 10,000 lbs. The fee for those vehicles would be raised from $250 to $500. The rate for vehicles between 7,500 and 10,000 lbs. would hold steady at $250.

Local towing companies have been lobbying for fee increases for months.

Lastly, the proposed ordinance change would require towing companies to mark towing advisory signs at businesses with the name and address of the business. The change is designed to make it easier for drivers to know where not to park in lots that serve more than one businesses.

If the board advertises the hearing this weekend, Stout said the changes would likely be considered for final approval at the April 16 board meeting.

  • el fat kid

    and here we go again…

    • Jonesbeach

      Virginia law allows towing firms to charge up to $175, not $125 as referred to above. VA Code section 46.2-1233.1 permits towing firms to charge $125 between 7 pm and 8 am Monday through Friday and up to $175 on evenings, weekends and holidays. The maximum fee limit of $125 Arlington County is proposing is $50 less than the permissible limit.

      • The article refers to the base towing fee. It does not talk about the night and weekend surcharge.

        • Olga

          It is inice to know the proposed $125 fee limit is much less than the possible $175 noted.

  • Sunny617

    Advanced Towing Rants in 3, 2, 1…..

  • G

    Someone parked in my parking spot at my condo a few months ago… called advanced towing and had his SUV out within a few minutes… until the guy came running out of another building screaming to drop his vehicle. He was lucky enough to be able to have it dropped after paying a drop fee… never parked in my spot again. Thanks Advanced Towing!! haha

    • Curious George

      Same thing happened in my condo parking spot. I was amazed at how fast they can pull a car. Funny thing is I found out later that the guy who parked in my spot actually admitted to staff that he knew it was wrong when he parked there and didn’t rant about being towed.

    • Bender

      I guess you showed him, Adolf.

      • Lacy Forest

        Curious George and G both did the right thing. It is no different than someone throwing it into park in your driveway and walking away.

        • Michael

          When I lived in Iowa someone parked in my driveway the first day of football season. They then came inside and started to fix breakfast. Turns out the previous owner allowed them to park there on football Saturday and they fixed breakfast for them as a thank you. Momemtarily scary but a good laugh. I guess we’re not in Kansas anymore.

  • Dbag

    Someone writing “..in 3, 2, 1…” in 3, 2, 1…

    • FrenchyB

      1,2,3 – D’oh!

  • Thes

    ArlNow — the County website does not have a copy of the proposal. Can you provide a link to it?

    • I have not seen the proposal yet. They promised to email it to me — if and when they do I’ll upload and link to it.

  • el fat kid

    There are several concerns here, debates on the merit of the increase aside, the bureaucratic setup for this process and legitimacy of the the recommendation is questionable, at best. Towing companies get 3 members of the advisory board while Arlington residents get 1? I seem to remember this being a problem with state law, regardless, none of their recommendations should be taken seriously.

    • GValero

      I think a short history of Arlington towing fee limits might be helpful. In 1990 Arlington arbitrarily established a $65 fee limit. An Arlington judge ruled the limit unreasonable and it was invalidated. Virginia’s max limit at the time was $95. 16 years later Virginia increased their fee limit to $175 and Arlington increased theirs to $100, a five dollar increase over Virginia’s 1990 $95 limit. That’s a $5 increase for 16 years. Federal law requires tow fee limits to be compensatory. Virginia law expressly requires localities who limit tow fees to periodically review and adjust them in a timely manner. If you use even a low scale CPI index increase for each of the 16 years during which no review or increase occurred (in violation of state law) one will arrive at a fee limit that exceeds that which is being proposed.

      • el fat kid

        CPI is a very broad index, and for some unknown reason they do not track towing costs.

        But for shits and giggles…. Looking at your justification and request, you are basically asking for double what the generic CPI change (which many argue is an inflated assessment of inflation) has been since the last fee adjustment.

        • GValero2

          The time period which the adjustment should be calculated from would be 1990 when the state limit was $95. Do your CPI increase for 21 years and see what you come up with. Arlington never conducted a study when they increased fees previously, nor did they take into account the unreasonably long time that no increase occurred. It was ignored. That is a YP (the County’s problem for ignoring it all those years).

  • SB

    If the extra $10 allows them to provide better signage I’m all for it. When you’re paying that much money do you really notice the $10 anyway?

    • I was at the towing advisory meeting, and this was my thought as well. As much as being towed sucks, being towed to a location OUTside of Arlington and away from Metro would be much worse. Other towing companies have moved out of Arlington because of increased land prices.

      If Advanced want $10 extra (comparable to the other jurisdictions), but it’ll keep them in Arlington (something their owner mentions all the time), and we can get better signage to avoid predatory towing (where it’s not clear the parking is inappropriate), so be it.

      There are a lot of things to complain about the towing companies for, but I really think $10 extra really would be the *least* of them.

  • bob

    Lower the drop fee.

    And force them to take credit cards. If Advanced towing doesn’t provide a receipt, it is free.

    • Arlington Native

      Towing companies are already required to accept credit cards for payment (per Arlington County code).

      • bob

        yep, but they claim their machine is ‘Down” when you come to pay.

        Codify so if their machine is “down” you don’t pay. Sorry.

        • JulieOh

          Yeah, that would be good for my Arlington County taxes. Maybe if I show up when their system is down I shouldn’t have to pay. Interesting point but not reasonable. I think if there were evidence to support the “system down” claim it would already have been addressed.

      • withheld

        john oneill of advanced towing refuses credit cards so he can screw the tax man….

  • Al

    Blood sucking leaches!!

    • NancyDrew

      I agree, those damn parking space poachers taking up my reserved space are leaches.

  • Bill

    Arlington is a high volume candy store for towing companies. The fact Arlington’s fees are lower than the state level isn’t surprising. On a volume-adjusted basis, Arlington has to be the costliest for car owners in Virginia. Mandate criminal background checks for all towing company employees, ignore calls for night-time predatory surcharges, and require CPA-certified income disclosures every time towing companies demand higher fees. Lastly, significantly improve public parking in the high-volume parking areas to curb towing company activity.

    • Vince

      Another recent article mentioned Virginia towing companies already are required to have criminal background checks although there was no reference to any justification. I think much of the regulation they operate under is created the same way and for the same reasons it is at the federal level. Desk chair bureaucrats sit in their office all day “thinking” too much. Rarely is there justification for some regulation but it probably looks good politically.

  • CarsSuck

    How about park your shit legally and you wont have any problems.

    • CW

      COMMENT OF THE YEAR, although I do not condone your choice of user name.

  • RegularJoe

    Paying even $50 is far above what it costs a towing company to tow a car, so when I hear that they want to charge $125 that sounds crazy to me. The towing business is Arlington’s biggest scam.

    I wish Arlington wasn’t so hostile to folks who drive cars. People complain about folks who don’t park where they should, which I can certainly sympathize with, but do you know why that happens so often? It’s because Arlington doesn’t have enough places to park. Everywhere you go, Arlington is short on spots. It would be nice if the county focused on resolving that problem instead of trying to jam public transportation down everyones throats. We frequently leave the county to go to dinner or shopping specifically to avoid the parking stress in Arlington. Sometimes we just stay home for the same reason. I’m sure we’re not alone. I often wonder how much business/taxes the county loses because of that.

    • Thes

      Please identify where you would like all those additional parking spaces to go. Arlington has no undeveloped land.

      • AbeFroman

        Considering how crowded Bethesda is and how much low/no cost public parking they have, that’s not an excuse for Arlington. If you want to develop high density apartments or retail & office space that are going to bring more car driving owners/renters and guests there should be some requirement to include a certain amount of reasonable parking to support the traffic that the development is bringing into the area.

      • el fat kid

        “Arlington has no undeveloped land.” not entirely true…

        but alas, the problem stems from poor zoning and development plans approved by the county board. It is very clear that they do not properly identify and require developers provide for adequate parking. An estimate that’s just 10% off for an apartment building can easily add 20-30 cars on the street within a two block radius, creating significant problems for residents and costing businesses thousands in lost revenue. #planbetter.

      • Thes

        Oh, I see. You are just looking for parking garages. Have you found these to be full when you visit? In terms of apartments, it’s the garden apartments built over 50 years ago that have the worst parking problems. Most (possibly all) of the ones built in the last 20 years have unused spaces in their garages at all hours of the day.

    • Really? I don’t find evening parking in Arlington very difficult at all. Virtually everywhere I’d want to go, there’s either lots of available street parking, or if not, then a garage that charges $2 or less for the night. The Ballston garage is $1 all night. There’s also the Clarendon garage formerly County-controlled that’s $2 for the night. Everywhere else, even Westover, Shirlington, Crystal City, etc. generally has lots of free parking at night. Even if you go to Market Common, you can park for several hours, when validated, for, what, two or three dollars?

      If you think parking’s hard, I assume you really mean that free (subsidized) parking is hard to find, rather than $1 or $2 parking for the night. Even then, I’m not sure I agree, because street spaces seem to turn over reasonably well here.

      (None of this is to suggest that there isn’t predatory towing in Arlington — that’s a different issue than what the commenter brought up.)

  • Frank

    its not rocket science…dont park in an illegal spot….you wont get towed….

    • My usual advice to people is if you are going to park illegally, do it on public streets where the county does enforcfement. The private tow companies cant touch you

  • CW

    A couple things I like:

    1) The picture. What was the name of the Mercedes driver again? Poor guy just wanted to drop off a package.

    2) Requiring signs to have the name of the business. This is really a good idea.

    • AbeFroman

      Prolly some bleedheart liberal eating at Hellburger.

      • CW

        Bleeding-heart liberals are all tree-hugging vegetarians, don’t you know that?

        I was referencing the fact that this picture came from an earlier article from some weeks ago that got a TON of responses on here – the driver of the Mercedes was named (well, first name only).

  • Overgrown Bush

    One of these costs about $50. Buy one and put it into your trunk. When you find a tow truck lifing your car, open the trunk and clamp his wheel. Then, he can’t go anywhere unless he lets you go. As the clock ticks away, he’s losing business.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-WHEEL-CLAMP-LOCK-BOAT-TRAILER-CAR-SUV-ATV-RV-/170526154438?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27b4269ec6

    • el fat kid

      albeit amusing, i think there are far more practical ways to avoid being towed.

      • Overgrown Bush

        Of course. Parking in the right spot for example. But, it would be perfect if your tire is touching the white line and they’ve jacked you up while you are waiting to pay for a cup of coffee.

  • Hank

    We got attacked by the Advanced Towing Vulture recently. Problem is we were actually customers of the store that contracted advanced towing to monitor their lot. went to advanced towing with the receipt. Problem is the clock on the register was incorrect and my receipt said 4am from a couple of days ago.

    I believe there is corruption in this process. Change the timestamp on the register (easy to do) and there is no evidence to challenge your claim that you were a customer.

    How much does Advanced Towing pay the store operator for the right to monitor their lot?

    • GValero2

      The law prohibits financial “kickbacks” so towing companies can’t pay property owners. There is no need to resort to this type of behavior anyway. Property owners are more than eager to hire towing companies to rid their lots of illegally parked cars.

  • Willie

    Towing companies appear to have kids assigned to lots as spotters, particularly around Clarendon….in the warmer months. Haven’t seen them in the winter.

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