Bill proposed in California State Assembly would eliminate tow-practices that harm low-income people

SACRAMENTO (KGO) -- Assemblymember David Chiu introduced a bill Monday that seeks to end towing practices that harm low-income people. Assembly Bill 516 would eliminate towing conducted as a debt collection tool.

The Bay Area is known for high costs including steep towing fees. The average fee to retrieve a car from a tow yard is $500.

"When you add daily storage, parking tickets, additional standard fees and fines the cost to retrieve a car could often skyrocket to $1,500," said Chiu, who represents District 17.

Chiu says it is having a devastating impact on low and middle class residents. On Monday, he introduced a bill to eliminate poverty related tows if the owner has 5 or more unpaid parking tickets, if the car registration is more than six months out of date or when a car has been legally parked for more than 72 hours; information law enforcement and meter maids have access to when calling a tow truck company.

Mary Lovelace says she was working as an interior home improvement specialist when things got rough.

"I was unable to continually look for work once they put the boot on my car," said Lovelace.

Lovelace says some of the parking tickets she received were for being parked in places she wasn't.

She's not alone.

"I went to try to register my car last year and was shocked to discover that I had over $1,600-worth of unpaid parking ticket fines on my vehicle," said Diane Tober.

If the bill passes, two dozen statutory grounds for towing cars will remain in-tact.

"Towing should be used for traffic flow and public safety reasons, not to push poor people further into poverty," said Chiu.

Chiu says enforcement mechanisms will remain to ensure Californians who are able to afford to pay parking tickets and registration fees still do.

AB 516 is expected to be heard in policy committee in April.
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