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November 28, 2016

City Council to hold public hearings on illegal towing in Philadelphia

Legislation Towing
george smith towing video Chris Norman/Facebook

This screen capture of a Facebook user's video shows a flatbed tow truck preparing to haul a vehicle from South Broad Street.

Parking in South Philadelphia has always been an adventure, but city residents can help advance legislation that would crack down on towing companies operating illegally.

Philadelphia City Council has invited anyone who has been affected by predatory towing to attend a public hearing Tuesday to discuss two bills that address the illegal practice. The Committee on Streets and Services will host the hearing in Room 400 of City Hall at noon.

The problem emerged in August after a viral video posted on Facebook caught an alleged parking scam in process on Broad Street in South Philly.

City Council also received a significant increase in reports of vehicles being illegally towed over the summer, according to Lance Haver, director of civic engagement for Philadelphia's City Council.

The reasons for the complaints from motorists ranged from vehicles towed despite being legally parked, impound lots charging outrageous amounts to release vehicles and towing companies failing to provide evidence of illegal parking or accepting credit cards as a form of payment.

An aide for Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez (D-7th District) confirmed some of the complaints, prompting the councilwoman to introduce legislation to protect motorists from predatory towing companies.

Quiñones-Sanchez's bill would require cars to be ticketed before they can be towed.

Another piece of legislation has been jointly introduced by Council President Darrell Clarke (D-5th District) and Councilman Bill Greenlee (D-At Large). That bill would enable towing licenses to be revoked if employees attempt to price gouge motorists after an accident.

Anyone who cannot attend the hearing but supports efforts to reform the towing industry in the city is urged to sign an online petition.

The committee will consider to act on the legislation after hearing testimony in a meeting immediately following the hearing.