On April 15th the Dayton Daily news reported that the city of Dayton began a tow on sight program, targeting cars with unpaid parking tickets and camera violations.
Immediately after I started hearing from people- “you have to do something”- and “write about this”- which I would have loved to do, but, you have to remember, I have a job, and it’s not to do the one that our elected officials are supposed to do (and yes, I auditioned for that paying job more than a few times).
At Wednesday night’s commission meeting, in the final comments, about 5 weeks after this draconian illegal seizure of vehicles began, Commissioner Joey Williams asked in closing comments if there was something “that could be done” like a payment plan, since the people this is affecting can’t all just write a check for the tickets, the tow and the storage fees. He asked the city manager to look into doing something similar to what the water department does to restore service, noting that if you take people’s cars, you often stop them from working. No other commissioners chimed in.
Here is what the DDN reported on the 15th of April:
Police began towing vehicles with a combination of two or more unpaid camera-caught violations or parking tickets on April 2. In announcing the decision, the department said that those who haven’t paid within 30 days of the second violation would be subject to towing….
Dayton police said a vehicle on the tow list that is “operating or parked on a public street” can be towed, not just vehicles involved in a traffic violation. All police cruisers have copies of the tow list, and five cruisers contain technology that reads license plates. Five more license-plate readers are “ready to be installed” in cruisers, police said.
Costs include $105 per tow and $20 per day for storage if a vehicle isn’t picked up in four hours….
“My main concern is why are most of the red camera lights in the West Dayton area?” said Smith’s husband, John Smith. “I think that’s very important and significant.”
Of the 11 intersections with cameras in Dayton, six are in the western part of the city, one is to the north, one is close to the middle and three are in the eastern section…
New city contracts for towing began April 1 for Sandy’s Auto and Truck Service and Summit Towing Inc. Each is paying the city about $150,000 annually during the next five years.
Sandy’s tows and stores vehicles in the city’s East Zone, from east of the Stillwater River until it flows into the Great Miami River and east of the Great Miami to the eastern city limits. Summit Towing Inc. tows and stores vehicles from the West Zone. Neither company returned calls Friday seeking comment.
“With the way that the economy is today, they need to work with people,” said Tiffani Richardson, who paid fines at Dayton Municipal Court last week. “At least let them make payments if they don’t have all the money at once.
“That’s putting us a step back if you are going to tow my car. How am I going to get to work or anywhere else to be able to pay the ticket?”
Note, you can get multiple tickets for drunk driving and they don’t seize your car and hold it hostage.
In a city that claims to have the welcome mat out, seizing cars for minor speeding, red light or parking tickets is a bit draconian, don’t you think? Especially since the cameras have no way of proving who the driver is, or if the ticket was delivered to the vehicle owner. Of course, if you are a city commissioner like Matt Joseph, you can go to events that aren’t official city business, stick a placard in your window, and park for free. (pictures taken May 18, 2010, on E 2nd Street by me) Note- Matt also gets free airport parking as well- and a city car.
It’s easy to make laws if you don’t have to live by them.