Thursday, August 14, 2008
More On Escondito "Tow Traps" Raking In Big Buck$
You've heard of a "speed trap?" What we see in Escondido is a "tow trap."
According to civil rights attorney Cynthia Anderson-Barker, quoted in this article, the situation with on with Escondido's traffic checkpoints is...
..."outrageous," and completely driven by the city's desire to capture as much revenue as possible, not protect the public.
Named in the lawsuit are Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Riverside and Los Angeles counties, and the citeis of Escondido, Maywood and Los Angeles. Notably--and I really want to track this down--the lawsuit cites a case by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that "towing a vehicle merely because a driver is unlicensed is an unreasonable seizure absent a showing that the vehicle poses a threat to public safety." The defense argues the case is not applicable because it was "based on an Oregon statute and not the California law."
Escondido has feebly kicked around some ideas to lessen the impact on drivers by having a city impound lot. Of course...the impact on drivers is secondary. The real idea would be to keep as much revenue as possible. Once again, even talk of helping the drivers is completely revenue-driven.
Companies involved in the current wicked scheme are Al's Towing, A-Z Enterprises, Allied Gardens Towing and El Norte Towing. The article notes "no other city in North County appears to charge towing companies up front for [their] contract." Yeah, I thought that was unusual, too, but obviously it's not a contract so much as a hunting license.
Vehicle owners can request a hearing to get their car back sooner than the 30 days mandated by state law. Forty percent of vehicle owners do this. Only 5 percent get their car back before 30 days. (According to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit)
Not content to merely seize vehicles at checkpoints, the City of Escondido is now plotting to restrict overnight parking on city streets.
Escondido doesn't sound like a very nice place to visit.