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Cape Council regulates towing; sets rate schedule

By Staff | Dec 16, 2010

Cape Coral City Council has established rates for non-consensual towing, hopefully curbing what some classified as “predatory towing” throughout the city, particularly downtown.
Council unanimously approved Resolution 55-10 on Monday, which sets Private Property/Non-consensual tow fees at the following rates: base rate for the first half hour on scene is $100 for Class A vehicles, $150 for Class B, and $400 for Class C.
Storage rates for Class A vehicles is $25 per day, and $30 per day for Class B. Drop fees are $20, and signage inspection fees for tow companies is $75.
All new rates are set to take effect on Jan. 1st, 2011.
Councilmember Marty McClain, who spearheaded the change, said the new rates will be in place just in time for the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts, set to begin Jan. 8.
Attendees of events downtown within the Community Redevelopment Agency district have complained that tow away zone signage is not properly displayed, with signs seemingly popping up in areas where they weren’t previously.
McClain said signage issues will be one of the first items addressed.
“The most important component is this, in the event there is a tow, is that the fees are now established,” McClain said. “We’re going to be able to enforce this between the first and the Arts Festival. I don’t know if we’ll get everyone into compliance, but we’ll try.”
CRA Economic Development Manager Helen Ramey said that “predatory towing” actually chases business away from the downtown district, especially during special events. People whose vehicles are towed leave Cape Coral “with a horror story,” Ramey said, and “vow never to come back” to the city or its events.
“It’s mainly a problem during special events. Without the ordinance, it’s a challenge to determine an acceptable approach that will allow property owners to provide reserved parking for their customers, and adequately provide safe and convenient parking for special events participants,” Ramey said, adding, “I was so thankful council voted unanimously for it.”
The process to decide the rates brought together city, CRA and towing officials, according to McClain.
Wes Dale from Napa Auto Parts was one of the private towing company owners who took part in designing the new rates. He said that “predatory towing” is a very real thing in the CRA.
“Predators come out, and like in the animal kingdom, they go stalking for their prey and these cars are their prey,” Dale said.
Dale said a similar ordinance was enacted in Fort Myers, but that ordinance was forced down the throats of tow companies.
The Cape made an effort to work with that particular area, and design rates that work for everyone, he said.
“They were very conscious of the business owners, that’s why we had the meeting with all of the companies,” Dale said.