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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Want to end predatory patrol towing in Oregon? The Attorney General's office is open for business!

Portland, Oregon—Prior to the passage of Senate Bill 116 and Senate Bill 431 in 2007, Oregon’s predatory patrol towing industry was largely unregulated, even though the practice had been banned entirely in some other states. Oregon’s Attorney General had no statutory authority to even receive complaints from the public, much less act on them, and the hands of local law enforcement agencies were similarly tied.

Many Oregon motorists learned these facts the hard way, after having had their vehicle tow-jacked and finding that the police and other authorities could do little to help.

Adding to victims’ frustration was the awareness that these private-property patrol towing incidents were costing taxpayers a great deal of public money in their demand on police resources.

Passage of these two senate bills marks the beginning of the end for patrol towing in Oregon.

The rest is up to you, to the general public, and the tools you need are right here:

1. File your towing complaints with the Attorney General’s Office here:

The Attorney General now has the statutory authority to promulgate and enforce regulations regarding involuntary towing, including the price thereof. Many predatory patrol towing practices are now subject to civil sanctions, including prosecution under Unfair Trade Practices statutes.

2. Contact your state representative and state senator here:

Ask them to consider ending patrol towing in Oregon in the 2009 legislative session.

The predatory patrol towing practices of certain Oregon towers (notoriously, Sergeant's and Retriever Towing) were dealt with in broad strokes by the 2007 legislature.

Senate Bills 116 and 431 were passed unanimously by both the House and Senate, indicating the strong public sentiment for towing reforms.

The business model these predators employ is the basis for most of the towing abuses, but it is important to note that the property owners are complicit, by authorizing towers to delegate decision-making to drivers working on commission.

As State Senator Avel Gordly's Chief of Staff, I led the workgroup that drafted her Senate Bill 431.

It is important to note that 100% of the complaints that Senator Gordly's office received were related to patrol towing, and not to other towing activities, and that all of these incidents drew in police resources, resulting in public expense.

Towed or not, all Oregon citizens have a stake in this issue. Your taxes pay for this extra burden on police time and resources.

Senator Gordly strongly supports legislation that would mirror California's ban on predatory patrol towing, requiring the property owner to be present at the time of the tow and sign the invoice.

That action would end the majority of towing abuses in a stroke.

Contact your legislator(s) and request that action be taken. You would be surprised at how many will be happy you called.

--Sean Cruz


On predators towing vehicles displaying disability placards:

The commission-based compensation system towing predators use is the root of the evil, the sole motivating force behind Retriever and Sergeants drivers towing vehicles belonging to persons with disabilities, often stranding people in wheelchairs.

They do this far, far too frequently…every chance they get, actually….

Most of these tows would have never taken place without property owners agreeing to defer on-the-spot decision-making to drivers working on commission.

Patrol towing companies in Oregon provide their “services” to the property owners for free in exchange for the right to tow at their drivers’ discretion.

Both property owners and patrol towers take it for granted that towing disagreements would involve police and other public resources at taxpayer expense.

The 2009 Oregon legislature needs to address the particular issue of vehicles displaying disability placards, providing an alternative to towing the vehicle away, and a policy of returning towed vehicles to their owners.

Adopting California’s standard, requiring property owners to be present at the time of the tow and sign the invoice, would go far in eliminating these issues.


Sean Cruz writes:

Blogolitical Sean, political commentary here:

Aaron’s Law
, regarding child abduction prevention and resolution here:

Jim Pepper House
, dedicated to the legacy of the late, great Jim Pepper here:

Portland’s #1 Predatory Towing Horror Story
, regarding predatory patrol towing practices here:

Chicano Hero Cesar Chavez, dedicated to the Mexican-American giant.

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