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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Portland’s #1 Patrol Towing Horror Story Revisited, Part 2


A month after Hacienda CDC's towing contractor began trespassing on my property and stealing my vehicles, I received this letter from Hacienda's Board Chair Bertha Ferran and Executive Director Pietro Ferrari (see below), absolving themselves of all responsibility and declaring a series of steps they would take to correct the problems, none of which they actually performed.


To refresh the reader's memory, I am one of the neighbors unfortunate enough to live next door to an absentee, disinterested landlord who allows a predatory patrol towing outfit to conduct its vehicle harvesting operations on its apartment properties.


As of this writing, Hacienda's various patrol towing contractors have trespassed on my property and stolen my vehicle from my own driveway FOUR TIMES, breaking my transmission in the process.


Hacienda's "leadership" continues to this day to disclaim any knowledge of or responsibility for the towing, despite the fact the City of Portland towing records indicate that Hacienda's NE Portland properties are an absolute cash cow for predatory patrollers.


Back to the letter:


Hacienda outlined four courses of action they would take to "remedy" the situation that did not exist prior to their patrol towing onslaught:


"We believe that the measures we are taking will restore the peaceful environment that we intended to create for the low income residents that we serve and the surrounding neighbors."


"Besides the towing incident, you also expressed concerns about the ongoing presence of the towing truck near the site, which you deem disruptive to the residents. In response to your concerns and to foster a peaceful residential environment at Cedros and its neighbors, Hacienda CDC will take the following steps:


1. Will look into assigning a parking space (for their Plaza de los Cedros residents) per occupied unit and other alternatives.


2. Will issue you a parking tag to lessen any confusion for the towing company.


3. Will discontinue random sweeps of the parking lot (behind your home) and violators will be towed when necessary.


4. Will instruct Property Manager to establish system for tenants to report parking violations."



Looks fine in print, doesn't it?


But more than two years later, nothing has actually changed for either the residents or the neighbors.


The towers are still conducting random sweeps.


Hacienda never did provide me with the promised parking tag, which presumedly would have prevented their towing contractor's most recent trespass and theft of my vehicle. But those parking tags have made little difference to the towers who haunt the lot, as the Cedros residents will tell you.


Hacienda made no changes to anything at all back there as far as parking is concerned.


And the transmission breakage that the letter refers to as "the towing incident" is still unrepaired.


Seeking to minimalize the issue, Hacienda's letter describes the three separate occasions of trespass and vehicle theft out of my own driveway in March 2005 as "the towing incident."


The fact is, I have seen the patrol towing contract that Retriever used back then (Hacienda's current towing partner is Sergeant's) and there are places in the form that identify vehicles not to be towed.


Vehicle descriptions and license numbers of vehicles not to be towed. Imagine that.


Hacienda continues to disclaim knowledge and responsibility, but the facts speak for themselves.


Those facts include the illegal towaway zone that Hacienda created for their staff and Bertha Ferran's own personal use in the public right of way on 42nd Street (see earlier post, with photos).


Hacienda's letter places the blame squarely on Retriever Towing, but Retriever insisted that they did nothing wrong, blaming QMS (Hacienda's property manager at the time), and QMS insisted in turn that the fault was not theirs.


Well, damn it, the fault must have been mine, parking in my own driveway.


What a system!


As I explained to Hacienda staff prior to the 2007 legislative session, that system is going to change dramatically, and Senate Bill 116 and Senate Bill 431 will accomplish that, beginning on January 1, 2008.


Both of those bills earned "aye" votes from all 90 legislators.


One of those changes is already visible: patrol towers must post warning signs at each and every entrance to any property they are patrolling. No more hidden signage allowed in Oregon.


Also beginning on January 1, patrol towers must post the actual dollar amounts they intend to extract from whoever, and landlords must provide the same information to their tenants.


What I saw happening to my neighbors at Plaza de los Cedros was--and is--an extortion scheme that relies on disinterested property owners and managers, low-income tenants whose greatest asset is subject to seizure and sale at auction, and drivers motivated by commission who are also empowered to make all of the on-the-spot decisions.


None of the four trespassing and theft incidents that I have had to deal with--so far--would have occurred without these factors at play.


I have demanded a formal apology from Hacienda and from Bertha Ferran, who as Hacienda's Board Chair told me to either "wait until Monday or call the police" on that first Saturday, when their patrol towing contractor had both vehicles in custody and was demanding a ransom of almost $ 400 for their release.


I have also retained an attorney, whose job is to obtain closure on the "incident" that has now lasted more than two and a half years.


That closure includes:


1. The aforementioned apologies.


2. An end to patrol towing on or around my home.


3. $ 500 liquidated damages for each incident of all future trespasses and vehicle thefts from my property resulting from their patrol towing operations.


4. My attorney's fees.


5. $ 15,000 to cover the hell of the last two and a half years and to put my van back into the condition it was in before they stole it the first time.


Hacienda's response so far is to hire a high-powered corporate attorney, who claims that Hacienda bears no responsibility for towing in any manner or form.


We'll see about that.


Coming soon to a blog near you: Portland’s #1 Patrol Towing Horror Story, Part 3


Here's the letter, more to come:




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