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County Towing Fee Could Increase to $135

By Ethan Rothstein - ARLNow.com

Monday - 1/27/2014, 1:30pm  ET

A towing standoff outside Ray's Hell BurgerCar owners who have their vehicle towed in Arlington County could soon be paying $135 to get it back.

Tomorrow, the Arlington County Board is expected to authorize a public hearing on a proposal to raise the trespass towing fee from $125 to $135, which is the maximum allowed under state law after the General Assembly raised the limit last year. The fee is charged by local towing companies that are contracted to tow vehicles from private parking lots.

The county raised the towing fee from $115 to $125 in 2011 by a 3-2 vote, with Walter Tejada and Chris Zimmerman — who will be voting tomorrow in his final meeting as a Board member — opposing the increase. Tejada said at the time the increase was “a very significant hit” for those on fixed incomes. Current Board Chair and Vice Chair Jay Fisette and Mary Hynes voted in favor of the increase along with now-state Sen. Barbara Favola.

The Trespass Towing Advisory Board made the recommendation at its December meeting, along with recommendations that towing services add a $25 surcharge for towing on weekends, holidays and between 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. on weekdays. However, County Manager Barbara Donnellan recommends against allowing the fee.

Among the other proposed changes to the towing ordinance would be more stringent requirements for towing companies to document the vehicle’s location, reason for removal and condition before it’s towed, including taking pictures or videos. The TTAB recommended against requiring tow truck drivers to document the vehicle’s condition before its towed, since damage from towing is “a civil matter and is not adjudicated under the towing ordinance,” according to the staff report. County staff feels that it’s “important to underscore that the towing and recovery operator is responsible for documenting the condition of the vehicle.”

If approved, the ordinance would exempt vehicle owners from the towing fee if the towing service doesn’t adhere to the regulations.

The public hearing is expected to be scheduled for Feb. 22. The County Board would still need to vote on the ordinance amendment itself at a subsequent meeting in order for it to go into effect.

File photo