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Towing: Council caps rate at $150 for cars on private land

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

After meeting with local tow truck operators and representatives from the state towing association, Georgetown County settled on a $150 cap for “non-consent towing” and $25 a day for storage.

The cap will apply to vehicles towed from commercial property without the owner’s consent.

“We feel we’ve exhausted our resources within the state and what we have tonight is a good compromise,” Wesley Bryant, the county attorney, told County Council members this week.

A cap of $75 for towing and $10 per day for storage was originally proposed, but council deferred action last month to give staff time to seek input from local towing companies. Through that process, Bryant said he found rates for nonconsent towing ranged from $65 to $300, so Bryant opted for a “middle of the road” approach.

Everyone he talked to seemed satisfied with a $150 cap, Bryant said. No one showed up Tuesday to address council about the limit, something he said was proof the proposal is a happy medium.

“If they didn’t like it, they’d be here tonight,” he said.

Council was also satisfied with the compromise and gave the ordinance second reading. A third reading Sept. 22 will put the cap into effect.

Bryant was put to work drafting a towing ordinance earlier this year. The main impetus for the ordinance was an e-mail County Administrator Sel Hemingway received from Daniel Rogers of Atlanta, Bryant said. Rogers wrote to Hemingway in dismay when several of his friends were towed from the Island Shops parking lot in May and charged $290 each in fees by CCT Recovery.

Bryant said Rogers’ wasn’t the first complaint the county received about “exorbitant prices” for non-consent towing and, after news of a proposed towing ordinance got out, more reports started coming in.

Another reason for creating the ordinance was to put limits on who can have a vehicle towed from private property. Under the ordinance, only the property owner or someone with written consent of the property owner can have a vehicle towed. Bryant said that is designed to protect the vehicle owner from being arbitrarily towed and the towing company from illegally removing a vehicle.

State law already requires signs to be posted, but the ordinance specifies placement and size requirements for the signs.

The ordinance also prohibits vehicles being towed without the owners consent from being towed more than 20 miles.

The ordinance won’t apply to non-consent tows initiated by law enforcement. The Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office and state Highway Patrol have their own regulations for towing companies to follow.

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