Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Minneapolis Towing Horror Story by Grad Student Katie Roth

Photo by Jesse Wicks

(Above, image of the "Welcome To Dinkytown" mural. If it were an accurate mural, there would be a tow truck making off with the vehicle)

A request for non-consent towing horror stories over the Humphrey Institute listserv produced quick and detailed feedback, including from folks who had been towed in the last few days.

We start with the story of Katie Roth...

In the Dinkytown Hollywood Video they have a car permanently parked there during the weekend nights and they watch. If you come out of the Hollywood door and go around the corner to the ATM on the other side of the building, for example, [to get cash to rent a video, for example, hint hint?] they will put a BOOT on your car, promptly.

But on another note, check out the City of Minneapolis' ridiculous [and so-called] "abandoned vehicle" law.

According to City Ordinance 478.250, no abandoned vehicle shall remain on any street or highway in the city in excess of 72 consecutive hours. Any vehicle lacking vital component parts shall be presumed abandoned and may be immediately removed and impounded.

[So if you remove a tire and roll it across the street to the garage of your apartment complex to fetch a spare, they can seize your car--legally--while you're in the garage for one minute!]

This puts renters in the city at a major disadvantage, as we are constantly forced to relocate our cars every 72 hours or risk a tow. This means in a given week, even if I ride transit or bike every day, I have to move my car once every three days for fear that my home owning neighbors will report my vehicle as abandoned, even though my bumper bears the neighborhood "critical parking" sticker for my area.

In a city with the stated goal of reducing auto dependency, especially in its near-downtown neighborhoods, this policy is too broad and one-sided to properly enforce the problem of abandoned vehicles while respecting auto-owning (but rarely driving) renters' access to on-street parking.


JulieAnn said...

I thought I paid enough in student service fees to attend the U of M, but add the towing fees in and.... I encountered the Hollywood Video experience myself this evening, however, the nice gentleman in the truck (pay no attention to the growling German Shepherd in the back) was kind enough to wait for me to come back to my car and charged me the bargain price of $97 to remove the boot. I guess I'm supposed to feel lucky when I compare it to the $250 or so the tow would cost me. This form of opportunism has to be illegal. It certainly isn't very customer friendly. The fact is, if I have a car why would I go to Dinkytown? Well, the answer is. "I won't anymore!"

Johnny T. Utopia said...

First of all, Julieann, thank you for posting the very first comment to this blog. I worked for a while to build up the content before letting the Humphrey students know about the blog, and now I've got horror stories pouring across the perimeter.

I think the word needs to go forth to the management of HOLLYWOOD VIDEO IN DINKYTOWN that students are aware of their nasty little games, and it's going to make their store a lot less popular as a result.

But I see these issues as bigger than the abusive practices of any particular business. With all the high tech available these days, there should be a way to "ping" the owner of a vehicle and tell them, in effect, "Half an hour, more it or lose it."

And in that half an hour, many individuals might appear to say something like, "Dude! The ATM next door was out of money, so I went down the street. I am here this very minute to buy my very own copy of The Heath Ledger Memorial Video Collection for $199.95! SO CUTE ME SOME SLACK OR I WON'T BE BACK! YOU TOW AND I GO...AND YOU WON'T SEE ME OR MY MONEY EVER AGAIN!"

Johnny T. Utopia said...

"Cut" me some slack.

Of course I meant to write "cut" not "cute." Sheesh!