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Scott Hoornaert

Heheh. That's nothing; once I got a $250 bill from them for getting towed from my own parking space! The reason was legitimate enough, but the charge wasn't. On the plus side, it was one of many events that slowly made me decide to get rid of my car altogether; life is much better for it!


Actually the lesson you should have learned is not to park illegally on someone else's property. Simple as that.
Also, you may want to do some homework on your favorite chef, and see about his knack for plagiarism, as a writer your opinion may change. I'm sure portland food and drink dot com as some history...


I too had my car towed from my own lot - though it wasn't in a legit spot, it was during the tail end of the nasty snow storm a few years ago and I had not been able to get it into the right spot due to the snow. While going to pick it up, I saw more than one car literally left in the middle of the street that had not been towed. The lesson to me being that I should have left my car in the street.

I did some research at the time and seem to remember that the towing regulations were being reviewed. Whatever the case, I agree with Brian that it's a complete racket. truth has a point that you shouldn't park where you're not supposed to, but unless it's in front of a fire hydrant or could create some other kind of emergency issue, I think it's highway robbery for them to charge what they do.


I totally agree the fees are insane!! But, just slightly in the cities defense, they capped the fees at what they are, and think they are re-reviewing that. If the city hadn't put the cap that is there now you would have been paying up to twice as much! They are just deflecting blame it is all the towing company. But I do agree the city needs to lower the caps they have.


"But ultimately they're just responding to a business opportunity that's apparently been explicitly signed off on by the city." Libby

It's only that note that keeps me from describing those that are part of this operation as flat out pirates. I wonder what material these companies were able to provide the city so as to justify those rates.

Of course, people can be really stupid...(sorry Brian)....and cheap, and they will often do anything to beat a dime required for parking, including parking on other's property without permission. So, something has to be in place to curtail that kind of behavior, but when the mechanism becomes more profit motivated rather than one applied in the interest of fairness and responsibility, it's time to take some action.

It might be interesting to get a breakdown and find out exactly where the money from such a tow fee is going. If it stinks, go see Randy Leonard. If these are really pirates doing nasty pirate stuff, he might just rip them a new...hole in their work jeans. Seems like the WilWk has had a good time going after this story in the past without exactly bringing about any significant change.


The tow pirates convinced the city that theirs was a valuable service. (keeping the right of way clear etc). If there's money to be made from violators then the city should be making it and putting the profits into public works.
We got rid of quite a few loansharking operations recently and should give towing predators the boot as well.


Mine is a story like yours, but doubly worse, as the parking area was not clearly marked. Mind you, I am not apt to use that phrase often. Fruther, once informed that my car was towed, and paid over $350 for it, It would not start. (this was an old car, so the hood was easy to get open). I had the car towed, by another company to a shop wherein it was found that the distributor was disconnected. Obviously fraudulent if you know anything about engines. The city towing commissioner, Marcia Gaylord was incompetent. The whole thing was disheartening to say the least. How these vulgar business can continue to prey on unsuspecting citizens sends a chill up my spine. Property owners need to stand up for ours and their rights and stop allowing tow companies to "monitor" their lots. They must be getting kickbacks of some kind.


"They must be getting kickbacks of some kind." Kitty

That's surely and interesting point. In fact, who might be paying who here? Is the private parking lot owner paying the tow outfit to patrol the lot, or is the tow outfit paying for the right to troll the lots and rake in the resulting cash? Really sounds as if it's likely to be the latter.

Internet Ronin

$50 you expected and would have paid without so much as a peep under the circumstances. Probably many others feel the same way, so a $50 charge would prove ineffective at stopping people illegally parking on someone else's private property. But $200 makes you angry enough to loudly complain to others about it. So, a $200 fee accomplishes its goal: you get the message not to be so casual about illegal use of others' property for your personal convenience, your readers get the message about just how expensive it can be should they contemplate doing the same thing. Perhaps $100 would have accomplished the same goals, perhaps not. (Let's not overlook the fact that tow truck drivers need to be paid a living wage, the time involved in hooking a vehicle up and then towing it to the yard, for which rent must be paid, and various other overhead expenses.) Is $200 outrageous? Of course, it is. That's the whole point of charging $200.


Does the money represent a fair amount for the service rendered?

What good reason is there to be towing people's cars improperly parked in the first place? Take away the profiteering avenue and a significant percentage of this city's current number of tow truck drivers could likely be assigned real work, constructive work, instead of this kind of activity.

Why aren't cars simply booted and held until payment was received, rather than towed from the lot if a simple citation wasn't considered sufficient assurance that the citation would be payed? Yes, I've heard the explanation that not all cars can be booted, but it's likely that something more practical can be devised than hauling people's cars all over the city.

A lot of time, money and gasoline is being wasted by this kind of wasteful towing. I'd guess that easily %90 of the people erroneously parking on private property aren't doing so deliberately or out of an effort to cheat, but out of confusion or misunderstanding.

Internet Ronin

Does the money represent a fair amount for the service rendered?

In part it does. The other part constitutes a penalty for committing an illegal act.

What good reason is there to be towing people's cars improperly parked in the first place?

So that the space can be used by its lawful owners for the legitimate use intended.

Why aren't cars simply booted and held until payment was received, rather than towed from the lot...

See above. A parking lot full of booted cars effectively prevents the lawful owners using their private property for their intended purpose.

A lot of time, money and gasoline is being wasted by this kind of wasteful towing.

I imagine that the number of vehicles towed for this reason is an exceedingly tiny percentage of all vehicles parked within the City of Portland in a single day.

I'd guess that easily %90 of the people erroneously parking on private property aren't doing so deliberately or out of an effort to cheat...

And I'd wager you are wrong about the first assertion. As Brian's story illustrates, most think they won't get caught (and the vast majority probably are not). As to the second assertion, I agree wholeheartedly that most are not making an "effort to cheat." Most, like you, see no harm done, particularly when it is someone else's property rights being ignored.

Let's see if this clarifies the point: I imagine that there is no one using your living room, bedroom, kitchen, dining room or bathroom most of the day, but I can't imagine you standing idly by while the rest of us here pop in and out of your home at our convenience to use your facilities as no one else appears to be doing so at any given moment.


As I read it, Brian was concerned he he would get caught. He didn't indicate that he thought it was alright to borrow some parking lot owner's parking space for nothing. I haven't implied that I think this is alright either.

Overwhelmed with the urgency of explaining his situation to his lunch partner, he simply forgot about having parked without yet paying. Sounds fairly innocent to me.

A car parked in a lot, booted for non-payment is going to be paid by the attendant citation and fine for exactly the legitimate use the space is intended; parking a car.

"A parking lot full of booted cars ..."ronin

As if that's going to happen. How many cars does a lot hold? 100? By way of the citation/fee, allot the car owner 24 hrs booted parking on the lot, then tow the car. Seems highly unlikely that the entire lot would fill up in 24 hrs, with cars needing to be booted.

Lots 15 cars or less, or something on that order could be excepted from the 24 hr allotment.

If part of the fee is for service rendered and part of it represents "...a penalty for committing an illegal act.", does a car owner get a breakdown on their receipt indicating how much of the total amount is represented by each? People ought to be able to know exactly how much of a penalty they're paying for these kinds of illegal acts.

I feel like parking lot owners should get a fair price for the use they make their property available for, and that's all.

Jeff Joslin

In 2000, soon after Gil Kelley, the newly appointed planning director arrived, I learned on a particular day that it was his birthday and that - being new in town - he hadn't any plans. I offered to take him to lunch, and we were to meet in the parking lot of zuppans at Burnside and 23rd. I went into the store to pick up a few items, threw them in my car and we went off to lunch across the street.

When we returned, my ancient and dusty Explorer loaded with Zuppans groceries had been towed. His tidier and empty German sedan with California plates was happily in its place. He took me over to the east side to bail out my rig to the tune of two hundred bucks. I'd intended to be generous with my lunch offer, but not quite that generous.

I wrote Zuppans and Retreiver, including the shopping receipt, but never heard back. Trips to Zuppans have been few and far between in the interceding 7 years.

sean cruz

Here's some important predatory patrol towing facts:

The Oregon Legislature took up the issue in the 2007 session, passing both SB 116 and SB 431 unanimously.

The new laws go into effect January 1, 2008.

You can find the bills on the legislative website at www.leg.state.or.us.

I've posted details on my blog:


You can also google "Portland's #1 Patrol Towing Horror Story."

Patrol towing is illegal in many other states, including California and Washington.

A big part of the problem is that the patrol tow drivers are paid on a commission basis, so they drive around burning fuel for free unless they can find a reason to take someone's vehicle.

The property owners demand the "service" for free, and a guarantee from the tower to indemnify them from liability.

That leaves you with no one to talk to but people who know they need to extract their paycheck directly from your pockets.

And they have your vehicle to motivate you.

The towers pile all the charges they can think of on the vehicles they tow in order to turn a profit on what is otherwise a money-losing business model.

But the new laws will also empower the state and local governments to regulate the prices the towers will be allowed to charge.

Both the Senate and House Committee Chairs stated that they would look at these towing issues again through the interim and see if they need to take it up again in 2009.

And plenty of legislators are ready to enact a ban on patrol towing, which means that property owners would have to be present and sign the invoice, authorizing the tow.

The buck is going to stop right there.

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