The Ogden City Council passed an ordinance with a 6-0 vote on June 21 to address non-consensual towing within city limits. The new ordinance outlines exact measures that all parties must follow to ensure all towing enforcement is done in a fair manner.
“This ordinance addresses two fundamental western American values,” Assistant City Attorney Mark Stratford said. “The right to have your car and your right to protect your property. What really is the fundamental principle that we’re trying to address…is that people are entitled to be treated fairly, both property owners and owners of vehicles.”
The ordinance includes language to address key issues, including uniform and visible signage, waiting periods before vehicles can be towed and notice to the police department regarding every tow.
“The ordinance identifies different parking lots and the different types they can be, such as a controlled, a partially controlled or an uncontrolled parking lot,” Ogden City Building Services Manager Jared Johnson said. “The reason why that’s important to us is because each one of those different types of parking lots can have types of rules and a different set of standards that go along with them. “
Parking lots can have different means of control or none at all. Controlled parking lots, such as those at WSU, have toll booths and passes for specific uses intended for each lot. Supermarkets are a common example of uncontrolled parking lots, where vehicles freely park for one or more uses. The new ordinance standardizes the laws over each.
Concerns were raised about local towing companies engaging in predatory towing, a practice where tow trucks wait for individuals to park on property belonging to restaurants, venues and private citizens, and towing or booting cars just minutes after the people leave their vehicles, without a warning beforehand.
Former city council member Caitlin Gochnour related a incident that occurred after a baseball game at Lindquist Field in Ogden in which not only her car, but the cars of umpires and coaches were also towed.
“We came out and the car was gone and there were no signs, but we started looking and in the driveway on the ground, we saw a sign attached to twine that was lying on the ground,” she said. “We tried to get our car that night, they wouldn’t let us, cash only the next day. To add salt to the wound, my husband was there in a volunteer capacity with the Raptors.”
Residents and non-residents of Ogden expressed their opinions before the council.
Leo Lines of Provo did not want the council to pass the ordinance, but rather have the State Legislature pass a uniform law that covers towing issues across the state and not just in Ogden.
“I want standardized signs all throughout the state, not just Ogden, every city. How many cities do I drive through in a day? Seven or eight… It’s going to have to be solved at the state level. The cities cannot do it.”
The ordinance doesn’t apply to single family homes, duplexes or multi-family homes, meaning no time constraint or warning must be given to a vehicle owner who uninvitedly parks in a driveway. Another similar circumstance applies to vehicles being impounded by law enforcement or vehicles being repossessed.