New towing regulations could hit Dickson St.

Though the issue was somewhat overshadowed by the paid parking items on the agenda at Tuesday night’s meeting, the City Council heard an ordinance that would rein in nonconsensual towing in the Entertainment District.

State legislators from the Fayetteville area, Lindsley Smith and Sue Madison sponsored a bill that gives more power to cities to help supress predatory towing practices.

City Attorney Kit Williams drafted an ordinance that would cap the towing fee for nonconsensual towing, say if a car was over-parked in a private lot off of Dickson Street, to $60. The measure also addresses storage charges and regulates signs in private lots that warn patrons of towing.

Parking signs off Dickson St.

Kelly Thomas of Towing Plus on South School Avenue said the new rules would cut her business by $20 per tow from the Dickson Street area.

“That might put a lot of people out of business,” Thomas said.

Jim Erwin of Erwin Wrecker Service questioned the new rates, especially because police-initiated towing rates are higher.

A state statute gives the Police Department the right to set the rates for police-initiated towing. The City Council does not have the jurisdiction to change those rates, City Williams said.

Chief of Police Greg Tabor confirmed that the police-towing rate is higher than the ordinance that Williams drafted. The agreement of rates between Tabor and the towing companies who handle police-initiated tows was formed two years ago, Tabor said.

While the council does not have the authority to alter those rates, Alderman Matthew Petty encouraged the mayor to look into the issue.

Council Member Brenda Thiel suggested keeping the ordinance on the first reading to allow time to potentially remedy the concerns expressed at the meeting.

Proposed Towing Ordinance Requirements

Fee regulations include:
– $60, $80 and $100 towing charge limits depending on where vehicle was towed from
– $10 per day storage fee limit beginning 12 hours after car is towed
– No mileage, transportation, or any other fees may be charged

Multiple regulations on signage are proposed and include details on locations and sizes of signs as well as contents of the signs such as:
– Maximum charge amounts for towing and storage
– Name, address, and telephone number of towing and storage firms

Payments accepted
Towing companies must accept credit and debit cards (no more cash-only charges).

Location of storage yard
The storage yard must be located within Fayetteville or no more than eight miles from the towing site.

Company must answer telephone
Towing company telephones must be answered beginning immediately after towing occurs and for 12 hours afterwards.

* Police-initiated tows are exempt from the proposed regulations

Mary Robbins is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She declared Fayetteville as her hometown upon moving here for college. She is a Journalism graduate who enjoys live music, the outdoors and attending city council meetings. For more of Mary’s contributions, visit her author page.