San Francisco Supervisor Wiener authors legislation to cut tow costs

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If your car is towed in San Francisco, you're going to be paying some of the highest rates in the country to get it back, but now for one group of motorists -- those whose cars were stolen -- it appears some relief is on the way.

Back in the 1980's and 1990's, San Francisco residents were reimbursed the towing expenses for stolen cars, but that changed in 2005, perhaps due to the economy.

Adding insult to injury, San Francisco resident Luis Rodriguez will spend big bucks to get his Chevy Malibu from the towing yard. Every month on average, nearly 200 stolen vehicles end up at AutoReturn.

San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener said, "It's a real hardship -- especially for lower income people who rely on their car as a lifeline to get to work -- to have to pay a lot of money to get their car, when they didn't do anything wrong."

Wiener has authored legislation with the backing of the Municipal Transportation Agency. If approved, starting this December through next March there would be changes. And when the towing contract comes up for renewal, it is also expected to include the new previsions.

Muni's $266 SFMTA administrative fee would be waived for San Francisco residents and cut in half for non-residents. The $225.75 towing fees would be waived for everyone. And rather than the current four hours you're given to get your car before the storage fees accumulate, residents will have a 48 hour grace period. The grace period will be 24 hours for non-residents.

Keep in mind, this is only if your car is stolen. Most people wind up at AutoReturn for parking illegally. In fact, there were more than 40,000 last year.

Joey Peters was towed Wednesday morning, on his birthday. He said it was $533 to free his car.

Wiener said he would like to see those high costs changed, but said "that's a much broader, structural problem."

The stolen car policy has wide support even with AutoReturn.
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