Provo mayor calls city to action against predatory towing and booting

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Mayor John Curtis released a statement Dec. 9 about his desire to change an ordinance regarding booting and towing in the city, asking residents to support it.

He is calling residents to action by asking them to share their feelings with council members and attend an important meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 17.

The logo on the "Stop the Reaping" Facebook page compares "predatory" towing companies to movie, "The Hunger Games." Graphic by Austen Clement.
The logo on the “End the Reaping” Facebook page compares “predatory” towing companies to the movie “The Hunger Games.” (Graphic by Austen Clement)

“I want to put the decision back in the hands of property owners and take it away from those who profit by the tow,” Curtis said. “In essence we allow a towing company employee who makes 30 percent ($52.50) commission to decide that a car needs to be towed instead of the owner, who is trying to carefully manage their property.”

The ordinance was last changed in 2005. Before this change, it was up to the property owner to decide whether a car should be towed or booted on an individual basis. The 2005 change put this decision into the hands of the towing companies, without the owner’s consent.

“I have been towed a total of four times,” said BYU senior Carson Wright. “What frustrates me is that all four times I was towed out of a private numbered stall that was specifically assigned to me and my apartment, an apartment that my parents have owned for about 20 years.”

Many students and residents tell similar stories, commonly referring to these towing companies as “predatory.” They say that these profit-seeking towing companies are driving away business and giving Provo a bad reputation.

“I got booted in an empty parking lot at my own housing complex,” said Madeline Daines, a BYU sophomore from Logan. “My car was 1/8 over the line, which I did not worry about because there were plenty of empty spaces. Instead it cost me $65 to have the boot taken off, and no one would listen to my appeal when I tried to contact the company. It was completely ridiculous.”

Such stories have led residents to create a Facebook page called “End the Reaping,” which has already gained over 500 likes and a strong student backing. The Facebook page calls for students to email their city council representatives their personal experiences with towing and booting and attend the city council meeting Dec. 17 that will decide whether the ordinance will change or not.

“The biggest thing is that we have to get this ordinance passed,” said Amberly Asay, a BYU student who is working to increase the impact of BYU students regarding the issue. “I encourage students to get on the Facebook page and email their stories to council members. We’re also trying to gather 100 physical stories of people struggling with towing and booting to be hand-delivered to the city council the day of the decision. We’re students, but we need to show that we are a part of this community.”

The mayor posted his appeal at provomayor.com/2013/12/09/towing-a-fine-line/. The city council meeting will decide whether this ordinance will be changed or not on Tuesday, Dec. 17, at 5:30 p.m.

“I have found that the heart of the problem goes back to a change made in our ordinance in 2005,” Curtis said. “It’s time to undo our mistake.”

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