Towing in Provo students vs industry

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University towns are all too familiar with parking enforcement. Provo is no exception. With over 30 thousand students to manage, BYU has numerous policies in place in regards to housing and parking. Campus Police regulate parking on campus property, the BYU Parking office allows for an appeals process. The BYU off-campus housing office regulates what housing options are BYU approved, and provides a process to help students resolve various disputes associated with housing conditions and resulting situations. Parking at approved housing facilities, however, involves zero university oversight, mediation or appeals process through the university.

Instead, it is contracted out directly to the private sector. This is seen as a problem by many students as the lack of parking follows students home from campus. Most housing facilities don’t have enough parking for their tenants. This forces many students living in the designated BYU contracted housing “two-mile radius” to look for parking solutions elsewhere. Even side of the road parking is often limited due to the disparity between housing and parking availability. Businesses and churches each close their lots during night time hours limiting options even further. So what happens if you can’t find a parking spot?

Enforcement. Parking enforcement is provided by contracted companies that arbitrarily boot and tow any vehicle they see fit. Although these companies enforce parking lots for BYU contracted housing. They have no connection to the university. This didn’t stop one such company from inferring such a connection when named its self “University Parking Enforcement” in 2001.

Students are not the only ones with grievances with parking enforcement in the area. Provo City continues to grapple with its relationship with local towing companies. Police and court documents suggest that despite efforts by Provo Mayor John Curtis to curb disputes with towing companies, motorists continue to be towed and booted in Provo. Even with the towing industry being curbed their business practices are still a subject of controversy.

According to Provo Police Records in 2013 at least 3,641 vehicles were towed in Provo. Using the state maximum charge of $175 per tow this industry made about $637,175 excluding processing fees and taxes in Provo alone. After the city council took action at the end of 2013 the towing industry took an expected hit. Towing 893 vehicles fewer than the year before. From January first, 2015 to April sixth the industry had towed over 840 vehicles.

With so much to gain it is no surprise that this industry and its practices have been deemed predatory by many. This for-profit service is in stark contrast with the parking enforcement that is done by the BYU Police Dept. If a vehicle is found to be in infraction on campus the police department will issue citations in order to hold the vehicle owner accountable. So long as the infractions are not found to be excessive, this procedure is followed up to six times before more harsh consequences are pursued. Upon the seventh infraction, a “Misuse of parking privileges citation” will be issued to the vehicle’s registered owner with a price tag of $200.

The University Police website lists its current parking regulations where  one can find a list of infractions that would be considered excessive enough to merit a tow or a boot. A vehicle lacking a current license plate or a vehicle that is considered to be a threat to public safety are both on considered to be excessive. If a vehicle is towed the owner will be responsible for a $20 impound fee. Significantly lower than the $229 one can expect if towed by the “University Parking Enforcement”.  UPE breaks down their pricing on a document they call a “Customer Bill of Rights” as follows; $145 tow fee, $25 storage fee (per day), $30 admin fee, $29 fuel surcharge coming to the $229 before tax total. A fee you can expect to pay for a minor violation.

 

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