Let’s add another bit of drama to my life. I have been having a bit of a problem (along with 50-75 other people who live near me) with a towing company, a security company (as of yet un-named) and the management staff of my complex. After living here for 5 years suddenly they have decided to enforce the rules and gone about it in just about the most inconsiderate and sneaky way possible. While the residents sleep the tow trucks sneak in around 2 am and slip away with vehicle after vehicle with a guarantee of at least $255.00 on each tow. Here is the letter I wrote to the company who manages the property after attempts to speak with the on site management proved to be a waste of time. I am posting this so that others can refer to it as needed.
HelloI am contacting you regarding the recent decision to enforce a zero-tolerance parking policy at Stevenson Place Apartments. I have lived at Stevenson Place for the last 5 years and never has there been any enforcement of the parking policy until a couple weeks ago. My vehicle was towed out of a spot that was allocated to me when I first moved in. That means my car was parked in that spot about 1800 days and there has never been a problem. I asked the leasing office staff who was being harmed by my car being parked in it’s assigned spot and the answer I got was “No one”.I can see towing me if I am in another persons spot but I wasn’t. My permit was lost due to a car accident that broke my windshield and I have not had an extra $50.00 to spend on a 2″ square sticker with a number written on it in felt tip marker. The second time I was in an unmarked spot and had not been there for even an hour and my car was taken again. The time on the paperwork says 5 am but I have a witness who can attest to it being around 1:30-2 am. It should also be noted the only time cars are being removed is late-night while the residents are asleep. Never once have I seen a tow during the daytime for a parking violation. I think I know why. It’s because when you are taking advantage of people you don’t want anyone to see you doing it. It’s the same reason others commit crimes at night while people are asleep. There are several reasons why this enforcement policy is unfair and/or illegal.You can find the Vehicle Code Section 22658 Removal From Private Property here- http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc22658.htm
- The code states (1) There is displayed, in plain view at all entrances to the property, a sign not less than 17 inches by 22 inches in size, with lettering not less than one inch in height, prohibiting public parking and indicating that vehicles will be removed at the owner’s expense, and containing the telephone number of the local traffic law enforcement agency and the name and telephone number of each towing company that is a party to a written general towing authorization agreement with the owner or person in lawful possession of the property. The sign may also indicate that a citation may also be issued for the violation.
The signage at the time my car was towed read “Resident Parking Only” I am a resident. That gives me authorization to park in the parking lot so long as I am not in a spot assigned to another resident w/o their permission, violating Fire code, or blocking an entrance. There was no sign indicating “parking by permit only”. Since my car has been towed the signage has been changed to indicate the permit only rule.Why change the signs unless they didn’t have the appropriate information?I spoke with the Manager of Stevenson Place and she insisted the “permit only” signs were always there. When I informed her that I had photos showing the signage had just been changed she claimed to have no knowledge of the change. When I asked her who was responsible for the signage she told me any signs would have to be ordered by her. I asked her if maybe she believed the signs had been changed using magic. She then told me she knew nothing about the signs. I don’t know if she was playing some sort of game or being serious but it was obvious she was not interested in having any type of adult conversation with me.
- The vehicle code states- (b) The tow truck operator removing the vehicle, if the operator knows or is able to ascertain from the property owner, person in lawful possession of the property, or the registration records of the Department of Motor Vehicles the name and address of the registered and legal owner of the vehicle, shall immediately give, or cause to be given, notice in writing to the registered and legal owner of the fact of the removal, the grounds for the removal, and indicate the place to which the vehicle has been removed. If the vehicle is stored in a storage facility, a copy of the notice shall be given to the proprietor of the storage facility. The notice provided for in this section shall include the amount of mileage on the vehicle at the time of removal and the time of the removal from the property.The manager of the property or an agent of must authorize the tow and provide(B) The written authorization under subparagraph (A) shall include all of the following:(i) The make, model, vehicle identification number, and license plate number of the removed vehicle.(ii) The name, signature, job title, residential or business address and working telephone number of the person, described in subparagraph (A), authorizing the removal of the vehicle.(iii) The grounds for the removal of the vehicle.(iv) The time when the vehicle was first observed parked at the private property.(v) The time that authorization to tow the vehicle was given.Despite being literally 20ft from my front door I was given no notice of my vehicle being towed either time. There has been no problem leaving me any other notices about water being shut off or that my lease was being changed buy it isn’t possible to tell me my car is being towed away?
- The vehicle code states – (E) (i) General authorization to remove or commence removal of a vehicle at the towing company’s discretion shall not be delegated to a towing company or its affiliates except in the case of a vehicle unlawfully parked within 15 feet of a fire hydrant or in a fire lane, or in a manner which interferes with an entrance to, or exit from, the private property.I have spoken with the security company employees and they have told me they have never called Morris and Sons Towing and told them to tow a vehicle. They said the towing company is acting on their own to find violators and then calling security to be present at the time of the tow. Morris and Sons told myself and others the security was responsible for calling them out and they were just “fulfilling the contract” they had with Stevenson Place. There is only one reason for them to lie about this fact. They know what they are doing is wrong.
- The vehicle code states- (n) A vehicle removed from private property pursuant to this section shall be stored in a facility that meets all of the following requirements:(2) (A) Remains open during normal business hours and releases vehicles after normal business hours.(C) Notwithstanding any other provision of law and for purposes of this paragraph, “normal business hours” are Monday to Friday, inclusive, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., inclusive, except state holidays.(3) Has a public pay telephone in the office area that is open and accessible to the public.When I tried to pick up my vehicle I called ahead and was informed they opened at 8 am the following day. When I arrived at 8 am no one was there. I called and was told someone would be there by 9 am. At 9:15am I called and was told someone would be there in approx 15 min. At 10:30am someone arrived to release my vehicle. the second time I called on a Friday at 3:45pm and was told no one was on site but they would meet me at 5pm. When I arrived at 4:45 no one was there and an employee didn’t arrive until 6:30pm. This was like adding insult to injury.
- The vehicle code states (5) A person who violates this subdivision is civilly liable to the owner of the vehicle or his or her agent for four times the amount of the towing and storage charges.
- Vehicle code 22953 states- (a) An owner or person in lawful possession of private property that is held open to the public, or a discernible portion thereof, for parking of vehicles at no fee, or an employee or agent thereof, shall not tow or remove, or cause the towing or removal, of a vehicle within one hour of the vehicle being parked.I realize you are not directly responsible for some of the points I make here but you should be made aware of the business practices of those you have a contract with especially when they have such a strong impact on your tenantsThe second time my vehicle was towed it had not even been parked for an hour in that space. I had just come home from shopping. I keep late hours.Due to that fact I was able to meet up with the security for Stevenson Place on Jan 17 2014. It was during that conversation that he informed me the security company was not authorizing any of the tows. He said Morris and Son’s had told him to meet them there so they could tow more cars. He also told me they had towed between 50-75 cars during the past week or two.When I picked up my car the first time an employee at Morris and Sons Towing had told me they towed 22 cars on the same night mine was originally towed which supports the security guard’s information. That’s $5,600 minimum profit in one night for the tow company.While I was talking to the security two trucks from Morris and Son’s towing come pulling into the parking lot. They were driving really slow and had all the lights on their tucks turned off. I have video of it happening. If everything is good and legal then why are the drivers sneaking in to tow cars at 2am? I asked the drivers how many cars they had towed the past week and was told “We don’t have to tell you anything” which is true but a bit rude and defensive. It was clear they did not like the fact I had recorded them driving in. To the best of my knowledge they have not been back since but the signage did change a couple of days after that.The second time I picked up my car the employee at Morris and Sons I attempted to tell the employee there was no signage indicating permit parking only at Stevenson Place entrance at that time there were not and I have photos to show that. The employee was not interested in anything I had to say. His only interest was in taking my money. When I told him I didn’t have the money to pay him a second time in the same week he was happy to keep my car and leave me with no means of transportation. All over $255. Are you comfortable with that?
The biggest problem besides the lack of clear signage indicating the rules is the fact that the policy of the complex is to give 96 hours notice before towing. (see attached)The only answer the leasing office can give me when I ask about this is “it’s in your lease” No where in my lease does it say I will be towed without notice.I have spoke with several other residents and they have told me they too were unclear on the policy or were never given any parking permit yet their cars were towed. One guy was towed because his permit had fell off the window. When it was pointed out they didn’t charge him for the tow but he is still out the time and inconvenienced unnecessarily.Given the inconsistency of the manager to enforce the policy over a 5 year period or even to correctly provide and post the policy so that residents can have a clear understanding of it wouldn’t it have been better to have the security put a warning sticker on the cars who violated the policy so there could be no doubt those people knew they were in violation? How is it building a good relationship with the tenants when they wake up for work to find the apartment management has allowed their car to be towed from a spot they were told to use by that same management?Another resident drove their car through the wall of my kitchen last year. At the time there were not units available for me to stay in temporarily. Was I a jerk about it? No, because it wasn’t your fault and things happen. A couple years ago when I found kids tagging and breaking up the bathrooms at the pool area I addressed the problem to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. If I see something strange or unusual I will inquire and make sure nothing wrong is going on. I do those things because I live here and i want this to be a nice safe place for everyone. When the management has my car towed in the middle of the night 2x in 3 days and it costs me my time and $510.00 my attitude towards them is going to change. When I go to the leasing office to have an adult conversation and they lie to me, it’s disrespectful and unprofessional. It makes me feel like I am talking to a young child who thinks if they repeat a lie enough times it will become truth. That isn’t the feeling someone should get when dealing with a property manager.I’d like respectfully request to be reimbursed for the cost of my vehicle being towed. The total is $510.00 (receipts are attached) I think I have presented a reasonable case for that. I would also suggest you contract a tow company who is a bit more honest in their business practices and inform security of the proper procedures to follow when having vehicles towed from the property. Since you own multiple complexes this could help prevent any issues in the future and it would minimize any resentment created from poorly communicated or inconsistently enforced polices.Thank You for your timeDanny Paden