Nick Licata’s Costly Car-Towing Battle Set for a July Joust
The City Council’s Nick Licata has just published an update on the effort to regulate towing company fees in Seattle. As you recall, this was something we were all spitting mad about last December.
Every once in a while, diffuse populist outrage coalesces around an easy target, like a plague of potholes or Kardashians. Last winter, it was towing companies. Danny Westneat over at the Seattle Times has since made a mini-cottage industry out of reporting on towing horror stories, from the “$800 tow,” to the “$800, that’s nuthin‘” story, to the “$800 tow reversed by court,” to the capper, where a couple’s car was towed from their own condo (they parked in the “right” space on the wrong floor) and sold at auction.
After reading Westneat’s initial story, Mayor McGinn jumped in with both feet: “That day, my staff began working with the City Attorney’s office and the Department of Finance and Administrative Services to determine what action the City could take to regulate or curb these rates,” he declared, adding a little limply: “We also reached out to the City Council about working together on this issue.”
Council members Tim Burgess and Nick Licata were on fire, too. After hearing from the City Attorney that capping Seattle towing fees was feasible through legislation, they announced they’d look into that. Burgess also wanted to work on how car owners are notified of a tow.
Because caps for towing companies were being considered at the state legislative level, Seattle had to wait to see if any preemptive legislation would be passed. You may be shocked to learn that while much work was done in the House and Senate on separate bills pertaining to this issue, they were never voted on, clearing the way for Seattle to try its hand at local controls.
Here’s Licata, who sounds fired up still, on the latest:
Mayor McGinn sent a letter to towing industry groups recently seeking their collaboration and meetings are scheduled to begin next week that I plan to monitor or attend. Earlier requests for information during the state session didn’t receive a response from towing companies, making it difficult to determine a reasonable fee.
Frustrated in trying to move legislation forward, I let the Mayor know that if he could not reach an agreement by the beginning of July with the towing industry, I intend to introduce legislation regulating the industry.