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Arlington Co. officials aim to curb ‘predatory towing’

Current law allows tow truck companies to authorize their own tows. A proposal before the Arlington County Board would require tow truck operators to secure permission of the individual responsible for the property where the vehicle in question is parked. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON — The Arlington County Board has advanced a proposal aiming to reduce aggressive towing.

The measure would reduce the number of trespass tows in nonresidential lots belonging to commercial and retail establishments.

Towing is a “necessary function yet it must be balanced with reasonable consumer protections,” said Jay Fisette, who introduced the proposal and is vice chair of the board.

“Why should someone have to pay $135 to get their property back when they went to the ATM machine next door to the Taco Bell before they bought their meal?” Fisette said.

He blamed towing so aggressive that it’s regarded as “predatory towing.”

“Tow companies have spotters sitting around, ready to pounce,” he said. “Too often, these predatory tows occur in minutes, if not seconds and they hurt small businesses and they infuriate customers and residents.”

The problem is fueled by current Arlington County law which allows tow truck companies to authorize their own tows. Fisette’s proposal would require tow truck operators to secure permission of the individual responsible for the property where the vehicle in question is parked.

“The business owner can then say, ‘Oh don’t tow that one, it’s not a problem; I don’t want to hurt my business,'” Fisette said.

The proposed change in the law would be limited to retail and commercial property during business hours.

The Arlington County Board is expected to vote on the plan in early December.



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