The Albany City Council on Monday discussed the parameters of an ordinance to regulate towing companies that enforce parking regulations on private property in the city.
The proposed ordinance comes after Albany resident Sandra Davis had her car towed just before Thanksgiving, which cost her a trip to Salem and $470. The incident caught the ear of Albany Mayor Sharon Konopa, who directed her staff to look into ordinances from other communities that cap fines and limit the conditions in which tow drivers can haul vehicles away. As it stands, Albany has no law to address such behavior.
“They’re definitely price-gouging and taking advantage of vulnerable populations,” she said.
The council on Monday considered an ordinance that would require towing companies to limit the distance they can take cars to no more than three miles outside the city. The proposal would also set a fee cap, limiting how much companies can charge for towing. That fee would likely land between $160 and $200. Van Beckner, owner of AA Towing in Albany, said he charges between $150 and $200 per tow, which falls within fee boundaries set by other communities, such as Portland.
Councilors agreed on the provision that would limit how far companies could take towed cars, but Councilor Rich Kellum initially objected to setting a fee cap. He argued that because no Albany towing companies handle such business, the ones that do, by virtue of being prohibited from traveling far, would have no need to charge larger fees. But Konopa said local towing companies have advised her that if no fee cap is in place, companies would charge as much as they wanted to.
Representatives from Highway 34 Towing & Repair, located at 34100 Oakville Road S.W., said at the meeting that they support the proposed ordinance, because their towing yard is located within the three-mile limit. Konopa said the company also agrees with the fee cap because the suggested amount is actually higher than the fee they charge now.
The council is expected to vote on the ordinance at its regular session Wednesday night in the City Hall council chambers, 333 Broadalbin St. S.W. The meeting starts at 7:15 p.m.
Contact reporter Neil Zawicki at 541-812-6099 or firstname.lastname@example.org