By Bob Egelko : sfgate – excerpt
The ruling means S.F. can charge license fees only to companies whose main office is in the city – even though other firms can still tow cars here. Photo: Chris Hardy, SFC
A state appeals court has limited San Francisco’s authority to regulate tow trucks, saying a city can license and collect fees only from towing companies located within its borders.
San Francisco, like many cities in California, requires tow truck companies and drivers to get permits and pay fees in order to do business in the city, regardless of where they are headquartered. The California Tow Truck Association challenged the city’s regulations and won a ruling Wednesday from the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.
A 1985 state law allows local authorities to license and regulate towing companies whose “principal place of business or employment is within the jurisdiction of the local authority.” That means San Francisco can charge license fees only to companies whose main office is in the city, the court said.
The Legislature clearly “intended that the regulation come from a single local jurisdiction” rather than the multiple cities where the trucks might be sent, said Justice Maria Rivera in the 3-0 decision….