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Tempe Towing

By: Jonathan J. Cooper

Aug 26, 2006

If you’re prone to leaving your car where it doesn’t belong, listen up. The Tempe City Council is poised to more than double the rate it allows towing companies to charge for abandoned and illegally parked vehicles in the city.

If the council accepts the recommendations, presented Aug. 17 by an ad hoc towing committee, the current $50 standard fee and $75 night, weekend and holiday fee would become a flat $120.

An existing $25 drop fee, assessed to a driver who returns to his vehicle before it has been moved, will be eliminated and the $5 per day storage fee now in effect will be raised to $15, with the first 24 hours free.

It was a standard fee schedule when it was established in 1982, but is today significantly lower than the fees in nearby cities, making it difficult for towing companies to make money in Tempe. The city of Phoenix charges a total of $117 in fees, according to the committee.

The committee also noted that Tempe’s rates adjusted for inflation would put the standard towing rate at $127.

The official change is still a few weeks off. The towing committee will modify its proposal based on the Council’s advice and return with a final recommendation for the council’s approval.

The committee recommended increasing the size and visibility of warning signs, but the council still had concerns. Council members noted that parking lots where the spaces are owned by different stores in a strip mall sometimes employ differing policies for the use of their designated spaces within the same lot.

Councilmember Ben Arredondo asked for clearer differentiation of signage to make it clear which spots face which restrictions.

He also expressed concern that the proposed price increase would be too high and that the new rules will discourage safe behavior, particularly among north Tempe’s young population which is comprised largely of students attending Arizona State University.

“If students leave their cars (at the bar) and don’t drink and drive, and their car gets towed, they’ll be discouraged from calling a cab next time,” he said.

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