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Council hoping to curb ‘predatory towing’

By Staff | Nov 22, 2010

A new ordinance might be in place by the first of the year that would help to curb “predatory towing,” or “non-consentual towing,” throughout the city.
The ordinance, sponsored by Councilmember Marty McClain, is aimed at helping the CRA, and the city, battle the rash of predatory towing incidents during special events downtown.
The CRA is set to host both the Festival of Lights and the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts in the coming weeks. The ordinance would hopefully be in place by the time Festival of the Arts hits on Jan. 8.
McClain said there is “a lot of moving parts” to the ordinance, and a concerted effort to include towing companies, the city, the chamber of commerce and businesses in the CRA was made.
“We’ve been working for six months on this,” McClain said.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said the ordinance is long overdue, as visitors to the city often fall victim to towing and don’t want to return to Cape Coral as a result.
The ordinance also puts a cap on fees to pick up your car, if towed.
“You never know what it’s going to cost to get your car out,” McGrail said. “If people get hit with a $300, $400, $500 fee, they are not going to want to come back to Cape Coral.”
Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz thought placing a boot on cars parked in unauthorized areas might serve the city in a much better capacity than simply towing the vehicles.
“It would be good for citizens and enforce the intent of the ordinance,” Chulakes-Leetz said.
City attorney Dolores Menendez said the city couldn’t legally enforce booting automobiles, and it would likely be a detriment to businesses who were open to have their parking spaces dotted with booted vehicles, Councilmember Marty McClain added.
McClain said booting automobiles was considered during the six-month process of working on the ordinance.
“Taking spots away from biz owner while they’re open is not something we’re here to do,” McClain said.
A public hearing for the Ordinance 89-10 is set for Dec. 13, the final voting meeting before city council goes on its winter hiatus.