Vague lines, short notices and a spontaneous decision not to drive to school could be all you need to find your car missing from what you thought was a parking spot. This was the case for Lisa Vandertuin, a 26-year-old Humboldt State environmental science major.
Vandertuin and others around Arcata are facing unclear towing zones and lack of notifications when they are in violation.
Vandertuin, took the bus to school one morning around 7:30 a.m. and when she returned in the afternoon around 5:30 p.m. her car was missing from the parking lot of her apartment complex.
“I see cars parked in different spots in the parking lot all the time,” Vandertuin said. “I don’t understand why this resulted in the car getting towed. I feel like it could have been dealt with differently.”
At first Vandertuin reported her car stolen to the police. She finally learned the car had been towed by J & M Towing and Vandertuin had to pay just under $300 to get her car back.
Vandertuin discussed this with Humboldt Property Management who is in charge of her apartment complex. J & M Towing and Humboldt Property Management had very little to say when asked about the incident.
Senior property manager for Humboldt Property Management Alan Gunn gave his side of the story.
“Humboldt Property Management didn’t tow anything,” Gunn said. “The spots are clearly marked.”
Humboldt Property Management explained the parking lot has assigned parking for the apartments in the complex, with records of all the tenants’ vehicle information. The management company said Vandertuin had parked in a spot that belonged to another apartment.
Vandertuin told Humboldt Property Management a majority of the parking spots were not clearly marked in the parking lot. She checked the lot and only found six spots to be legible.
“Humboldt Property Management told me it’s assigned parking,” Vandertuin said. “I told them the spots are very difficult to distinguish and that they haven’t looked at them.”
As a way to prevent future incidents Vandertuin took it upon herself to submit a maintenance request to fix the markings for the parking spots. At first Humboldt Property Management told her it was not a real request, but eventually changed their minds and said they would look at the lot.
Vandertuin gave copies of the maintenance request along with a note to all of her neighbors explaining the problem with the clarity of the designated spots in the parking lot.
J & M Towing said that for a car to be towed the property management company calls the tow company, then the tow truck driver talks to the person who wants the car towed and as long as the parking lot is properly signed the car gets towed.
Two years ago regulations changed, so towing on private property needs to fall under very specific guidelines. These new regulations were put into place to prevent private towing companies from taking advantage and towing unnecessary cars.
Buddy’s Auto Center employee Rick Stewart used to work as a tow truck driver for a private towing company.
“Each parking lot is different when it comes to nonconsensual towing,” Stewart said. “It all depends on the company that is in charge of the property where the parking lot is located.”
Parking can be tedious. Remember to check the parking regulations.
“Instead of trying to get ahold of me they just had the car towed,” Vandertuin said. “All it would have taken was a phone call and I could have moved my car.”