San Francisco’s unfair towing charges

by Emily Green and Lizzie Johnson : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco’s exorbitant towing fees represent an unjust penalty — and an unwarranted windfall for city government.

Tow trucks in San Francisco haul away more than wrongly parked vehicles. They effectively seize paychecks from drivers who need to fork over hundreds of dollars to retrieve their vehicles. It’s an unfair policy that city lawmakers must fix.

That change of direction can’t come soon enough. The penalties here are far higher than other major cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, where strict parking rules are needed to keep traffic flowing. Along with sky-high rates go another troubling factor: San Francisco’s transit overlords use the annual haul of 42,350 vehicles to cover expenses barely related to towing…

Reporters Emily Green and Lizzie Johnson delved into the towaway numbers to produce another level of unfairness. Transit budget maestros are dumping other costs onto the towing bill in the name of the city’s overarching transit-first policies that downplay private vehicles. Curb painting, ticket-writing salaries and city vehicle maintenance are all chalked up to towaway work, which is carried out by private contractors. Even a slice of MTA Director Ed Reiskin’s pay is tacked on to the towing program. It’s a stretch that officials justify by saying other transportation programs would be cut if the towing fees weren’t so high…

There’s a need for serious parking restrictions on San Francisco’s crowded streets. Along with this simple mandate is another requirement for balance, fairness and honesty. The city’s towaway contract needs revamping… (more)

RELATED:
Towing fees to come down after SF supervisors complain :
The cost of getting towed in San Francisco is going to come down by at least $75 as the Municipal Transportation Agency agreed Tuesday to reduce its fees after supervisors criticized them for being exorbitantly high, unfair and unduly regressive…
The administrative fee pays for every cost directly and tangentially associated with the towing program, including the salaries and benefits of the citation enforcement officers who enforce towing restrictions, the paint to paint red zones on curbs, vehicle maintenance, and even part of MTA Director Ed Reiskin’s salary.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin said that is wrong. “I question why a portion of the MTA director’s salary is being passed on to these people who have their cars towed.”… (more)

How are cyclists paying for their costs? paint, signs, enforcement, Ed’s salary and official time attending bike meetings? How are those costs being covered?

 

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