Changes to Tempe’s towing ordinance take effect June 29

There are changes being made to make an inconvenient occurrence less stressful.

In late May, the Tempe City Council unanimously approved changes to the city’s towing ordinance.

The changes take effect Monday, June 29.

One of the changes will be in regard to proof of ownership. Under the revised ordinance, a current rental or lease agreement will now be acceptable proof of ownership for the towed vehicle.

If the person’s documents are in the vehicle, the private towing company is, upon request, obligated to allow the claimant to retrieve them from the vehicle to provide proof of ownership.

Having a vehicle towed is an inconvenience. However, Sgt. Steve Carbajal said the recent changes will make it less stressful.

“It kind of makes it easy for the person who gets their car towed, as far as outlining what tow companies can do and what they can’t do and what they can charge for and what they cannot charge for,” Carbajal said.

“I think it’s the biggest difference in the new ordinance.”

The changes give increased protection for claimants who have had their vehicles towed while also maintaining enforcement of parking violations. At times a person can step outside to find their vehicle has disappeared, not knowing whether it was towed or stolen.

Under the revised ordinance, private towing companies are now required to notify the Tempe Police Department prior to towing, immobilizing or transporting a vehicle. This will allow police an opportunity to resolve the issue regarding whether it was towed or stolen.  It allows the owner of the vehicle to have an opportunity to be notified in advance.

The previous ordinance allowed tow companies to make that notification within one hour of the tow.

A claimant can also pay towing and storage fees with a credit or debit card. (The new ordinance will prohibit the tow company from charging additional fees for those forms of payment.) The ordinance also prohibits two companies from charging any fees not specifically authorized by the Tempe City Code.

Carbajal said the new ordinance will help residents in the event they do have their vehicles towed.

Examining the area and making sure the vehicle is not parked in a prohibited area is one thing which can be done to prevent a tow. Carbajal said understanding the new ordinance will give area residents an advantage.

“I think it’s important that people get themselves familiarized with the new ordinance and what their rights are when it comes to a situation when the vehicle has been towed,” he said.


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