KENT — Motorists who are towed due to violations such as illegal parking may soon face a more expensive consequence.
A proposal would increase towing rates to $125 and 24-hour storage on a lot to $20 a day from the present $90 for towing and $12. The ordinance also gives preference to towing companies with tow yards in Kent.
Kent Police Chief Michelle Lee, who presented the amendment to the city council’s health and safety committee at its Wednesday meeting, said about 1,200 to 1,500 vehicles are towed per year. She initially proposed basic towing be increased to $100 and basic storage to $15.
Lee also asked that the ordinance’s strict language about only contacting tow companies with tow yards in the city be relaxed to allow other companies near Kent to be contacted. When the ordinance was initially passed, according to Lee, there were six or seven tow businesses with yards in the area. Now, only three remain.
David Moore, a tow truck driver for Plaza Auto Care & Towing in Kent, spoke to the council on behalf of the company. He said tow businesses have left the city because of the money it takes to run trucks and rent lots. Moore asked for the towing fee and storage fee for towed cars to be increased more than the proposed amount.
“Last month, we towed 15 cars from the city of Kent, and we still have five of them,” Moore said. “We might get $200 when we’re done. We have to store them on our lot for 30 days, wait for the police department to generate a title — roughly another 30 days.”
Moore also said it is difficult for tow trucks to navigate Kent because of new buildings and students. He asked for response time to be increased from 15 minutes to 20 minutes during the daytime and to 30 minutes at night.
Although Moore agreed that a secondary list of tow companies outside of Kent is needed, he was concerned with the disadvantage it posed. Plaza charged $4 per mile within the city limits. If someone from outside the city comes to perform the same service, they’d be able to make a larger profit.
“We’re the ones paying taxes on properties,” Moore said. “They’re the ones laughing all the way to the bank.”
The city will look at producing signage that would reflect the amended ordinance.
Kaitlyn McGarvey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-298-1127.