Richmond official spars with tow truck

Tom Butt

Tom Butt

N0 one delivers constituent service with quite like Richmond Vice Mayor Tom Butt.

Check out Contra Costa Times reporter Karl Fischer’s story about how Butt stood between a tow truck and a resident’s soon-to-be-towed vehicle, then later spurred changes in city policy and may send the tow company on the first train out of town.

Here’s the top few paragraphs of the story:

Farmers markets rarely generate much in the way of police calls, but Richmond dispatchers know to take nothing for granted.

“I’ve got an emergency here in Point Richmond,” the caller reported. “This is Tom Butt. I’m the vice mayor of Richmond.”

Butt phoned while stopping a tow truck with his body last week at the Point Richmond Farmers’ Market. A police cadet would not cut loose an illegally parked car, though its owner beat the tow.

Now Butt wants justice, and possibly heads.

“Look, this is not about me. The victim here is the woman whose car was towed away,” Butt said this week, “because of a confluence of bad policy and rude behavior.”

Butt, who writes a widely read electronic newsletter, published more than 100 compliments received from subscribers after he chronicled the July 13 encounter. He also prompted policy change: Police will now let the car go if the driver beats the tow, Chief Chris Magnus said.

“I am fine with changing the practice, but we have to be fair to the tow operators as well,” Magnus said. “Everyone has their own ideas about what makes sense and what is fair.”

The incident had another outcome: Future city contracts will require sensitivity training for all tow truck drivers, both Butt and Magnus confirmed. Really.

Butt also hopes to ban the tow company from future city work. He will bring the request to City Council next week.


Click through to read Butt’s full forum posting.

SENT JULY 16, 2011

Picture yourself stopping to shop in Point Richmond. Maybe stopping for a late lunch and browsing the art offerings in a local gallery. Or, maybe you had an appointment to get your eyes checked at the local optometrist. You notice a flurry of activity that marks the beginning of the Wednesday afternoon farmers market. You go out to move your car out of the way, and you find a ticket on it.

“Didn’t you see the sign?” asks a Police Cadet, who is on ticket duty for the afternoon. Well, you guess you should have looked a little closer and taken time to work through the plethora of signs, both official and unofficial, on the power pole. You focused on that big one, the STREET SWEEPING warning, and you saw the 2-HOUR PARKING sign, It was the little one in the middle with the small print you missed, “NO PARKING EVERY WEDNESDAY MAY-OCTOBER.”

Well, you’ll be more careful next time. A parking ticket is not the end of the world, and truth be known, Richmond  can probably use that $30. You can mail it in and be done with it. You curse yourself under your breath for not being more careful and move to get into your car and move it out of the way.

But no, says the Police Cadet, you can’t do that. Apparently, a tow truck has been called, and you have to simply wait patiently and helplessly until the tow truck arrives, loads up your car and hauls it away to an obscure location in North Richmond. Then you have to beg someone to take to the Police Station to get a release. Then you have to beg someone else or call a cab to take you to a godforsaken location in North Richmond where you have to pay $155 to get it released.

Why can’t you just move your car and go home? “Policy,” says the cadet; “Once ticked you have to be towed.”

Pretty much ruined your day, didn’t it?

This is not a reverie. This really happened. Last Wednesday in Point Richmond. I got involved after people came to my nearby office and asked me to try to help out the victim, in this case the vehicle owner.

After the Police Cadets had told the vehicle owner and me that the vehicle had to be towed even if the owner was present and ready to move it, I asked them to contact their supervisor and request that he or she come down and discuss the situation. I also called dispatch and asked for the watch commander.

When I first arrived, the A&D Towing Company tow truck had just driven up but had taken no further action. I asked the Cadets to request the tow truck driver to hold up until a supervisor arrived. They refused.

Meanwhile, the tow truck driver proceeded to load the car up on the bed of his truck.

Then, I asked the tow truck driver to hold up until the supervisor arrived. He not only refused, but did it in the most discourteous and rude manner imaginable. He started to move forward. I spotted two police officers only a few hundred feet away walking toward us. I asked the driver again to wait a couple of minutes. He rudely refused, and started driving off. I stepped in front of the truck, which caused him to hesitate.

Finally, a Richmond Police Department sergeant, the supervisor arrived. In a brief discussion, he told me it was “policy” that after a ticket was issued, the tow had to proceed, regardless. He said that he did have some discretion in the matter, but he refused to exercise it.

The woman’s car went away, and a trip to the Police Station, a trip to the impound yard and $155, she had her car back a couple of hours later. Needless to say, she was not a patron of the farmers market, which looked like it could use a few more customers. Neither was she inclined to ever come to Richmond again to patronize local businesses.

If everything had been according to law and policy, I could chalk it up to just another bad day for someone. But it wasn’t. There is no written policy, no law, no ordinance and no regulation that compelled either the Richmond Police Department or A&D Towing to tow that unfortunate woman’s car away after she offered to move it. They were all mistaken. They made it all up.

And there certainly was no policy, no law, no ordinance and no regulation that compelled the tow truck driver to be a complete jerk and to be so inconsiderately rude. In fact, the contract that the tow company has with the City prohibits “rude or discourteous behavior.”

That’s not all. The contract under which the tow company has been operating expired a year ago, and it has never been extended or renewed. And the “No Parking” sign doesn’t meet the requirements of the California Vehicle Code to allow towing.

Now, there are a lot of legitimate and legal reasons for towing way vehicles. But this was not one of them.

I have introduced an ordinance amendment based on provisions of the California Vehicle Code for towing on private property that will allow a vehicle owner to reclaim his or her vehicle in lieu of helplessly watching it being towed under circumstances similar to those described above.

I have also introduced a resolution that would prohibit the City from doing any further business with A&D Towing until it has a valid contract.

Some people think this is overzealous on my part. What do you think?


SENT JULY 19, 2011

It turns out that this struck an unexpected chord in E-FORUM readers. I received over 100 responses, all but two of which approved (three emails from one dissenter). And of those two who did not approve, one is the manager of A&D Towing.

Instead of an ordinance amendment, The policy issue will be resolved by the Police Department issuing a new written policy that allows a river to reclaim a vehicle before it is towed away under certain circumstances. A new and improved tow contract is expected to be ready for City Council approval in September.

The issue of A&D Towing and the rude and discourteous response of its driver is still under discussion with A&D Towing, and we are hoping for a resolution soon.

People have strong feelings about this. All responses are shown below.

  1. I value and respect your making sure that we have policies that are known and not made up. I also like your position that the company have a valid contract to do business with the City. They need to submit valid licenses and they also need to provide proof of Insurance. We also don’t want law enforcement and public safety mistakenly operating under non-existent rules. Good job. I commend you for your advocacy, not just because of this incident, but because you are making sure that the City has its house in order.
  1. I think I’m going to stay out of Point Richmond.  Sounds like a dangerous place to visit. If I have any business to do I’ll take it to the Iron Triangle where you can deal rationally with the evildoers.
  1. If this had a “like” button, I’d click it! I think we all wish there was an elected official in a nearby office who’d stick up for us when someone does something this asinine.
  1. I agree with your actions on this!
  1. I think you are absolutely right. This is ludicrous and uncalled for. Let me know how I can help you with this matter.
  1. I think you are acting in the interests of ‘folks’.  Thank you!
  1. Thank you.  I think you are a hero for trying to save that woman the trouble and expense of reclaiming a towed car.  And also for trying to change things.  Until things are changed, I don’t think I will drive to Point Richmond on Wednesdays.  Maybe I will take the bus.  But I am a little curious.  If the tow truck company did not have a contract with the city, weren’t they just stealing the car?  I think the Police Department is the main trouble here. Since the Council oversees the police, you shouldn’t need an ordinance to require them to behave better.  Can’t you just call in the Police Chief and establish a new policy?
  2. Thank you for forwarding this to me. The same thing happened to me a few years ago and I was furious that my truck was towed for $150 when I was right there and offered to move it – but was told NO, the “law” says we have to tow it. On top of that insult, the driver stole about $5 worth of change I had in the ashtray for parking meters – but of course he just said “What money”. Third, the truck was put in an open area unlocked and could have easily be vandalized but luckily was not. Sometimes I feel helpless as a citizen in the face of stated “Facts” and intimidated as well into just shutting up. So bottom line is I appreciate your being on the City Council and willing to take on what I consider unjust actions. Hurray, Hurray, Hurray. And you’ve got my vote for as long as you stick it out on the Council!
  1. I think it’s wonderful… But what did you find out on the invasions of my privacy I wrote you about some months ago?

10.  I think u were right in your zeal. Now, imagine this same scenario in other parts of rich, the indiv. Most likely wound uP in jail! Just saying. …

11.  I am glad you are working for us!

12.  Not overzealous in the slightest! I was in Pt Richmond Wed. having lunch with a friend, and when we were coming out of Hidden City I believe we were witnessing the beginning of this imbroglio. The signage was quite inadequate; it could have been us getting ticketed and towed.

13.  right on the money; thank you Tom.

14.  As a driver, I look at every sign on the street before parking.  Having grown up on Los Angeles, and lived in San Francisco for many years where street parking is a premium, I always make sure I look at every street sign and check my car’s not near a curb or driveway to assure my car isn’t towed when I return. Looks like Richmond would be a good location for A & E’s “Parking Wars<http://www.aetv.com/parking-wars/>.”

15.  This also demonstrates the attitude conveyed by the rooky’ training, the arrogant, discourteous view of a citizens who may have a disagreement with the law.  I’d like the result of this be that other officers on the force tell the Police Cadet that he had confused projecting strength eliciting confidence in the citizenry, and cold, removed bullying. Thanks, Tom, for bringing this to our attention (including attitudes that often can’t be conveyed easily) and for suggesting ordinances that might make some difference.

16.  Thank you for standing up for citizens, and for common sense.  There is too little judgement and too much greed. I’d check to see if the cadet or other officers get a “finders fee”.

17.  Tom, if this had happened to me, it would be the last time EVER that I would come to Pt. Richmond. I can imagine all sorts of legitimate reasons why a person could be a few minutes late getting back to her car. Who knows what sort of unintended consequences could result from someone getting stranded that way and having to make her way out to the impound yard? The child is not picked up from school, the week’s grocery money is spent getting the family car back, the woman misses a critical doctor’s appointment, she is assaulted in a strange area trying to retrieve her car. And, all the while, she carries the memory of the tow driver being a complete asshole toward her, while the cop she helps pay to protect her stands uncaringly by. I would have liked to think Richmond had more heart than this. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. That police cadet needs some sensitivity training. So does the tow driver.

18.  Great write-up.  Must have been hard to resist, like shooting at a barn.  Thanks for doing your job, and more by bringing it to the e-forum.  I’m disappointed that even the RPD was so far out of touch on this one; I think and hope that’s probably unusual.  In fact, the City probably has some liability exposure if in fact the circumstances you describe are completely not backed up by any statute … the victim towee may want to consider suing the tow company (my choice) or the City (I hope not) for something or other by effectively stealing her car for a few hours

19.  Overzealous, no. Thank you for your intervention and your actions to make the proper procedure clear.

20.  This is the kind of irrational abuse that sours people on government.

21.  We had a similar situation with a car stolen from our Richmond driveway.  A year later, when the car was found in Oakland, it was towed to a warehouse where it stayed for a while before we were informed.  We were never called to retrieve it or to assess damages where/when it had been found; we were told to pick it up from storage and pay the towing and storage fees (that exceeded the Bluebook of the car.)  We “chose” to pay, but were unable to pick up the car for two days because we were out of town.  The towing/storage people said they had to charge us for the additional two days. When we went to fetch the car it had been towed to auction in Pittsburg. I forfeited the car.  This was not RPD or cadets or the Point.  Nor was it recently. I strongly support your ordinances.  I believe that there are corrupt practices in towing and storing that plague decent people and businesses.  Our family businesses were in downtown Berkeley and we had many customers over the years (and a few merchant friends) who left downtown because of perceive funny business with BPD and the towing companies.  Richmond is on the way up.  We need no barriers that would discourage shoppers and businesses from enjoying Richmond (and spending their money here.)

22.  Right on Tom.

23.  So if the tow truck driver didn’t have a contract.  Does that mean he stole the car?

24.  Would that more public officials could be as attentive to the moment; would “step up to the plate” as often as you!

25.  I think you’re right on! That so-called “policy” smacks of idiocy to me. Parking limits and times are meant to have owners move their vehicles, which this lady tried to do. I’ve never had that experience, and I’ve gotten parking tickets before in other cities.

26.  Thank you for your common sense.

27.  There was no tow-away sign, so I think the towed car owner may very well have cause for a claim against our fair city for ILLEGAL TOWING. And, with all the crime about, you would think our police could find a better use for their time. Keep up the good work.

28.  Here’s my response: I was ignorant of the exact hour of parking restrictions on the Embarcadero in SF last year, perhaps it was the year before.  On a weekday I was fifteen minutes past the “witching” hour (3pm on the Embarcadero, not 4pm as I’d expected) and got a ticket for the violation.  The tow trucks were hauling many cars away, one after the other and mine was next in line to be taken (no cars in front of me), but I was allowed by the SF officers on the scene to drive my car away and avoid towing.  Quite cheerfully.  I felt like I won the lottery though I could ill afford the $50 fine. The harder “times” are the less we need public servants/government to pile on:  if we are truly members of one community, our duty is to serve each other.   If it can be done in SF, it could well happen anywhere.

29.  KUDO’S!!!  That’s what I think.  What stupidity all around on the part of the police and parking.  What completely alienating and needlessly bureaucratic behavior.  Congrats to you for standing up for citizens.

30.  I think you and the unfortunate woman are owed tons of apologies, a refund of the terrible $155 charge, and that you should not only bar A&D from operating until they have a contract, I think you should do your utmost to see that the contract is put out to proper bid and, if at all possible, A&D never get another contract in Richmond.  And, if the right thing were done, the driver of the tow truck would face severe disciplinary action, retraining or termination if his attitude didn’t improve. Thanks for sticking up for the little guy and for common sense.

31.  What do I think??  I thank you!

32.  I think you’ve gone too far. The parking regulations are clearly posted. If you can read the “2 Hour” parking sign you can easily take the time to read the one directly above it, which states “No Parking, 2PM-9PM, May – October” and gives tow information. There’s no excuse for not reading traffic signs anywhere else in California and why should Point Richmond have it any different? You think a driver should be given back their vehicle if they return before it’s hooked up? The tow truck had to drive clear across West County to get to the location and you propose they should return empty-handed if the vehicle owner happens to return in time? Who pays for the tow truck’s time and effort, or the opportunity costs if they picked this tow over another? Do you think any tow company would want to do business in Richmond if every call is a potential loss? The moment the CHP 180 (tow form) is filled out the vehicle belongs to the tow company and discretion then belongs to them, not anyone else, and certainly not a city councilman. It’s their call and that’s standard procedure across California – do you think Richmond should have it any different? California standards aside, can you imagine how a revised ordinance might play out in our neighborhoods? What if some scofflaw keeps half a dozen project cars at the curb and refuses to move them because he knows they’ll never be towed as long as he’s around? Or people ignore fire lanes and park wherever they want because they too know they won’t get towed? Not good. I’m not sure what relevance the lack of contract with A&D towing has, but it’s my understanding that NO tow company currently has a contract with the City of Richmond. The City elected not to renew any of them…sounds like something the City Council should know about, don’t you think? I won’t get into the personal behavior and actions of persons present at this incident, other than to say that I have heard very different accounts of how this transpired. If personal behavior continues to be an issue then I think all witness interviews, video, and audio recordings should be made available for public review before anyone continues with such public claims. You wouldn’t like allegations of your personal behavior publicized without some proof and I think that courtesy should be extended to the others involved. You’ve had a personal altercation with several individuals (tow driver, cadet, supervisor) and you’re upset. In the absence of any other pressing need to revise our tow policies, the emotional distress of one city councilmember is not a sound basis for public policy revisons. This squabble has already cost our City enough money and I recommend that you end this effort.

33.  I don’t think this is overzealous at all.  I am sure this is not the first person this has happened to.  Can you imagine what it would be like if everyone who got a parking ticket had to have their car towed?  That various people were saying they were following the regulations and policies when there were none could set the city up for a law suit and it makes me wonder if there are kickback from the towing company.  Richmond does not need this type of publicity.  You are protecting the citizens and the city.  Go for it!!!

34.  No, your response was not overzealous in anyway!  Thank you for correcting and eliminating an overzealous and illegal A&D Towing racket that was going on.

35.  Good for you.  For getting involved. For having compassion for the woman.  For fighting for her cause. For helping. I hope you are successful with your ordinance changes.  Cities must learn that they restrain business inordinately with these sorts of rules and actions.  You are probably right that the woman will never come back to the Point.

36.  I think you need to redo this message so that the photo doesn’t block half of the text. From the little I could read, I applaud your actions.

37.  GO FOR IT! This is the Tom Butt I remember . The one who filed a lawsuit to keep the schools from closing early,. the one who squares off with Chevron and rights the wrongs of the city infrastructure he serves. And who do you do it for? Not for the machine that signs your too-small check. Yes, you do it for us, the constituents. Keep up the good work.

38.  Towing is one of those economic tipping points for people living on a financial edge and all efforts to avoid having to tow a car should be made. Sometimes it needs to be done but never with the discourtesy shown in your example.

39.  tow companies in Berkeley and Oakland are crooks.  Probably they are in Richmond too.  This is a big investigative story which I’ve never had the staff to follow up on.

40.  Go Tom! Perhaps you can also introduce a resolution to get this woman her money back?

41.  Since the sergeant implied that the tow company was following “policy”, the driver was only acting irresponsibly by being rude, in my opinion. It seems that the police officers were irresponsible and discourteous. Did they they actually did make it up or has this been unwritten “policy”, “forever”?  Seems as though they set the tone for the tow truck driver — “bunch a tough guys”. I can make out from your photo of the “Street Sweeping” sign that it says “Tow or Cite”.  What about that Sarge?  He’s the bigger culprit in my opinion.  He told you he had discretion.  Why didn’t he give the woman a break in keeping w/ the Street Sweeping sign implied choice?  Seems that he’s setting a bad example for those cadets — be tough, never admit you made a mistake. If a contract is required, The City was also acting irresponsibly by using the tow company without a current contract. .  And since there was no contract, the tow company cannot be held not-compliant. Whose responsibility is it to know what info is required on street signs and whose to enforce the requirements?  (By the way, my guess is that once a tow truck is called the tow company will want to charge for the trip whether it tows a vehicle or not.)

42.  Thank You Councilman Butt for your vigilance,

43.  Terrible situation.  I am really glad to hear you are ( and can) do something useful and constructive to prevent it from continuing.  I’m very impressed.

44.  Wow! That was sad and it was to bad she could not have contacted your office at the time.  A&D Towing, how the hell did the City let them operate without a legal contract for a whole year.  LAWD HAVE MERCY!  Now I must say, the beautification in Point Richmond and downtown Richmond is really looking good.  KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK MR. BUTT

45.  I applaud you.  You are one of a very few elected persons who actually put a lot of time and energy into doing things for your constituents.    Many little people get caught up in their authority and need a reality check.  Thanks for researching and addressing this problem.

46.  I do not like the way that A&D Towing does business.  They are money-grubbing capitalists and they do not care about whoever gets in their way of a good tow.  They should not have a contract to do business with the City of Richmond. My car was stolen two years ago and it was happily recovered quickly.  It had been taken for a joy ride to North Richmond and left parked in a place that did not block traffic.  Police procedure is to contact the person first and, if they can come get it right away, then the car is not towed.  When the car was stolen once previously five years and quickly recovered, the Richmond police called us, I rode my bicycle to get it and there was no cost to us.  This time, the state police were involved, they did not call us, the car was towed and we were out $155.  This is on a 1987 Toyota Camry that initially cost me $300.  It runs great. We did everything we could to appeal to A&D Towing and the state police to get our money refunded because we were given no opportunity to get the car before it was towed.  My wife got as far as calling somebody in Sacramento in the higher ups of the state police.  None of it did any good. I am sending copies of this to all members of the city council and Bill Lindsay.   If you can get the leeches at A&D Towing to be tossed off the expired contract and bring in somebody who will deal in a reasonable way, that would be a big win for all of us. Thank you.

47.  Well, it’s not quite a threatening live chainsaw held six inches from the gut while standing in front of a Buckeye tree on Marin Avenue, but it’s damn well a close second.  😉 Our hats off to you.

48.  I think you are absolutely right and thank you once again for your service to Richmond!

49.  Thank you!!!  This situation has to change.

50.  Kudos, Tom! You are absolutely right. Fortunate for Richmond citizens that our feistiest councilmember got involved, and I am all for your ordinance. Dealing with intractaqble imbeciles is never easy and your ordincance is a step forward in obviating the need for doijng so. Too many communities make hay from innocent parking errors, as I told Tom Bates last week. Berkeley is still the numero uno in this regard.

51.  Thank you Tom.  You are great.  I for one really appreciate all you do, including this one.

52.  I think the city should not negotiate a contract with those pirates now or ever.  The tow industry in this entire state is a travesty.  Look at the CHP magazine.  Who advertises?  Tow pirates.  They are scum.

53.  I agree   I just wonder why it takes someone in public office to get this through when a citizen would be laughed at and say pay the fine and shut up

54.  Good ideas.  Thank you for the work you do for the city.

55.  I’m with you on this one, Tom.  Abuse of power, plain and simple. And as you imply, this cannot be the only instance-  you just happened by!

56.  I also witnessed that asinine performance by the police and their cadet at the farmers market.  I hope there will be some disciplinary action against all involved.  What does the police chief have to say about it? I like your proposed actions.  Thank you.

57.  Super job Tom.  Super sad commentary on RPD.

58.  Hooray for Tom Butt !!!!  Boo to the Police Cadet and the Police Sergeant for “Inventing” a non-law that caused the vehicle owner great inconvenience and expense.  They should know the law, and enforce the law, not Invent law.  The police should pay the towing charges.  I sympathize with the tow-truck driver, who may be desperately needing the income.  But – I even more sympathize with you, Tom Butt, for being subjected to his rudeness.  Your actions on the scene were heroic.  And your actions to improve the towing laws are great.  Thank you.

59.  Wonderful

60.  Go get ‘em Tom! I think what you are doing is admirable. No one sticks up for the little guy anymore and events like this are all too common, especially when people let even the smallest amount of power go to their heads.

61.  I agree with you Tom.  Not only is the entire matter illegal, it is also horrible PR.  This is simply another example of “macho-psychotic behavior” on the part of the cadet, the cops, the tow truck driver.  It is also a real deterrent for anyone to wants to come to the farmer’s market anymore, or for that matter even to Pt Richmond.  If I were the woman, I’d file a claim against the City for the towing etc. and then sue in Small Claims Court when they turn it down.  Enuff said.

62.  Not overzealous, but precisely what needs to happen when the bounds of good policy and sound reasoning are transgressed. The Cadets need to understand, they are serving the Community, not vice versa while the Police Dept. needs to clarify its policy and procedures even with your resolution and ordinance amendment.

63.  Thank you for trying to get common sense back into use.  I have never seen these signs when shopping in Pt. Richmon but I’ll be aware now.

64.  (BTW- having lunch on Solano Ave- not aware I was in Berkeley- Albany has no parking meters) I parked in a space where I saw a sign for 2 hr. parking. I was not aware of the sign that said I had to look for a place to put my money or credit card..  They had removed the parking meters and installed one box which I didn’t see.  I protested the $42.00 fine but to no avail. Visitors beware?  I have many friends who will no longer go to Berkeley.  I hope that doesn’t happen in the Point

65.  With you all the way, Tom. I almost got towed the other day. I was just walking up to move my car, when a police car drove up. A nice friendly police lady (sic!) asked me if I was about to move. I s aid yes and she kindly waved me goodbye. I guess I was lucky.

66.  The kind of effort and caring you put into this is one of the many reasons you can count on my loyal support. Glad you’re willing to fight against this stupidity and unnecessary, counterproductive treatment. I’d like to think there is hope. But I’ve often concluded that against stupidity and incompetence, we’re without hope. Please prove me wrong. Let me know what I can do to help.

67.  I appreciate your response but there’s no way I’m the only person who disagrees with you on this issue. I’ve underlined some follow-up questions for you:  As you’ve stated, the CVC requirements for the sign are not the issue here. Neither is the lack of tow contracts. Your core argument seems to be that tows are expensive and unpleasant and the vehicle owner should therefore be given every opportunity to avoid the consequences of being an ignorant motorist. The tow company may be only 15 minutes away but what if their truck isn’t? I’m glad you believe that tow companies should be compensated for cancelled calls but it’s not that simple. If the cancelled call is an impound, and the next rotation is a simple tow, then the company has lost more than just time and fuel. I’m sure that impounds are an important part of tow company revenue – how would you compensate for this loss? The 6 car example I gave can indeeed result in citations, but it can also result in a tow since the example is pretty clearly a nuisance. See RMC 11.76.070. And you didn’t acknowledge the fire lane example.  The CHP 180 is a standard form used by most California cities, not just by the CHP. DOJ requires this paperwork to be filed ASAP so the owner can quickly find out what happened to their vehicle. Obviously, it benefits California residents if they can rely on standardized reporting and procedures, regardless of where they live and in which city their vehicle was towed. Have you looked into State preemption and the legalities of impound possession by the tow company? Your job is to set policy when there’s a problem to solve, not when you have a personal vendetta to pursue. You claim the tow companies are behaving like criminals. Where in this incident did the tow company “behave like a criminal”? By not acquiescing to your demands to break with procedure? As a city councilmember you have no more authority than any other citizen to interfere with a tow. You also stated that “this type of situation almost never happens” – if that’s the case, why in the heck are we even talking about this?! Like I said, I’m not going to discuss personal behavior or actions other than mentioning that your account of events is contradicted by others. If this tow issue focuses on personal behavior rather than policy review, I’ll file an FOIA Request with RPD and see what I can learn there. Finally, it troubles me that so much time and energy has been squandered on this tempest-in-a-teapot when there are much more important issues to focus on. Why not channel this energy into a community event to educate people about preventing property crimes? As a N&E Yahoo Group subscriber you know it’s been a big problem and it’s certainly a bigger public priority than the towing of inattentive, out-of-town motorists.

68.  Thanks for taking this action. I really wish that Richmond could come around to operating via written policy and maybe this will be a step in the right direction.

69.  Good for you. This is one sad story.

70.  Good for you Tom!  This is total BS. My husband would have had to issue my bail, as I would have gotten in my car and moved it, then walked back to deal with the cadet.I remember this happening last year to a friend of a friend. My older son had to help the lady find the police station and tow yard.

71.  Thanks Tom. You were very brave for stepping in front of that tow truck. And you’re right. Who in their right mind would ever want to come back to Richmond after something like this. Just what Richmond needs. As for the towing company, the police, etc., sounds like something corrupt is going on. Someone’s palm is getting greased.

72.  You Go Tom!!!!! Thanks Warmly

73.  over zealous? not hardly! in fact if you’d zealously kicked that fool in his ass you’d have been righteous,though maybe charged with a hate crime …thank you for standing up on behalf of sanity and here’s hoping the rest of the city representation makes a change in that stupid way of losing face, friends and business…

74.  Behind you 110%.

75.  As far as I am concerned, you did all the right things, including standing in front of the two truck …

76.  Way to go.

77.  I recounted your Pt. Richmond tow-car story to my husband, and he agreed the situation just doesn’t seem right, that it sounds excessive. He reminded me that, when we lived in San Francisco on streets with tow-away zones in effect during certain hours on certain days, the way it worked was this: if your car was parked in a tow-away zone when the forbidden time arrived, you got a ticket, and you knew the tow-truck was on its way. BUT if they hadn’t hitched you up yet, then you were allowed to move your car, though of course you had to pay the ticket. Your car was only fated for the impound yard at the point when the tow-guy got his hooks into it; up to that moment, you could still drive away, even if the tow-guy had arrived on the scene and was eyeing you in a meaningful way as he got out of his truck.

78.  Sounds to me like the cop was told to get out there and make up his salary. Maybe he was afraid of what the tow-guy might do to him if he let that woman get away after the tow had been called. If that woman had gotten into her car, started it up, and driven away, would the cop have shot her? arrested her? I think the City of Richmond owes her an apology.

79.  I surely wish you were present the day this very same thing happen to my daughter who was visiting her friend who lives in Laurel Park, she begged and cried for them not to tow her car and to no avail. My daughter is in college and the cost of the ticket and tow was a huge price tag to pay for a student. How can this tow company continue to work in this capacity without a contract? We should look into them paying damages!  Thanks for bring an ordiance to address this issue to the council.

80.  I am so glad you got involved and suggest we do not renew the contract with A&D towing!!

81.  You go Tom.  Great work.  That’s why we continue to vote for you!

82.  Not at all overzealous. Go for it. This needs to be fixed as quickly as possible.

83.  What a nightmare. I totally agree with you that it was totally unreasonable, rude and discompassionate besides being bad publicity for our city. Thanks for standing up for the right things.

84.  I don’t think that you are overzealous – dedicated and persistent – but not overzealous. It seems that it takes actions like this for us to get triggered and begin digging a little to find even more problems.

85.  I appreciate what you did for this poor woman and further appreciate the way you lead. You continue to seem to be the anti-politician in my view…always breaking the stero-types of egoic-driven individuals looking for the easy way to make things happen.  THANK YOU…one more Farmer’s Market patron DOES make a difference.

86.  I WHOLEHEARTELY agree that you did the sensible thing to hold all parties involved ACCOUNTABLE for their actions and behavior.  In situations like this, common sense must prevail and I hope the Richmond PD, the cadet, and A & D Towing learn from this experience. Please let me know when the issue and proposed ordinance will be on the Council agenda so I can support you on this.

87.  good for you.  Naming some names would probably have helped them get the message!

88.  Hooray for you!! Thank you for not over looking this horable situation. I am sure this poor woman felt so helpless, a situation we have all, at some point found ourselves in. Thanks Again.

89.  Tom, I support you 100% on this.

90.  I personally have been a victim of all this “newly generated revenue” tactic that has gone on for quite some time now.  It is ridiculous, and I am certainly glad you stepped up and did something about it. I attended a festival last year, at Nichol Park, came out and my car was towed.  I had parked behind an abandoned building. I called the Police Dept, only to find out that A&D had towed it.  The Police actually stated that they had not authorized or even notified A&D to do so, as they were aware of the festivities, and were not really enforcing parking codes, unless residents complained.  This was not the case in my situation, A&D goes around seeking for cars to tow, they sit out at City Hall, late at night, they almost got me again, when I was attending a Personell Board Hearing a couple months ago.  They were getting ready to take my car, and the guard stopped them.  It was around 8:30 p.m., so you see, this is really a gimmick,  a money maker, of which I feel is illegal.  I thank you for getting involved, maybe this ordinance can expand throughout the city, to encompass near City Hall as well, where the employees often are ticketed on a regular basis. I support your stance totally!

91.  This is awful. The prior two weeks I ran like a crazy woman up and down the street dropping of flyers at each business establishment reminding people about the towaway zone. Being from San Francisco, I read every pole I park near, but few people are that paranoid.

92.  I think you rock! Go For it! Fight stupidity on all fronts!

93.  This is absurd! Let’s recall the city council!!

94.  Thank you for taking the time to try to help that women.  Laws should be enforced, but without an ordinance and a contract, the city was wrong.  She should put in a claim to be reimbursed for her expense.

95.  We enthusiastically support your efforts (the ordinance amendment and the resolution). Thank you for your assertive leadership.

96.  HI Tom:  I have heard a lot of bad tow truck stories, but none that involved the owner of the vehicle having to stand and watch the car be towed.   I think the No Parking on Wednesday signs, as you said, do not meet the vehicle code. Please do all you can to stop this practice.  What can we do to support your efforts?

97.  Good for you.  The story is ridiculous, but if everyone wants to live by “policy,” then the signs have to be lawful and the towing company should be barred from working with the City without a contract.  Sounds like good public policy to me.

98.  Sounds like some officers and cadets need a refresher course in “Community Policing”. The idea is that, when possible, contacts between  police and the public should be used as an opportunity to build trust and establish good relations. I wonder whether it would have been possible to contact Chief Magnus to have him intervene in the situation and see if there was a way to solve it amicably. He seems to understand Community Policing very well, and this was a very important incident. The driver will probably remember it for a lifetime, and it will probably cost Richmond businesses much more than the $30 parking ticket. Something like this incident happened to me in Concord in the 1980s. I stopped doing business there and never drove my car there again. The cadets involved probably should be washed out of the program, as not having the good judgement required to serve the public in law enforcement. Being bureaucratic towards the public, instead of using good judgment and common sense to try a find a solution that serves the true interests of *Justice*, is one of the best ways to destroy the trust the community has in the police dept. Local businesses suffer greatly when customers are terrorized by the police into avoiding the area. The police need to have the good judgement needed not to drive away otherwise law-abiding citizens who just come into the area to patronize local businesses. The criminal element needs to be driven out of the area, but law-abiding consumers need to be welcomed to the area.

99.  I agree with you, Tom! This sort of silliness goes on at the highest levels of government.   Let’s start at the lowest level – at “the grass roots”, and just DO what makes the most sense!

  1. SPOT ON !!!!
  1. Thank you, Tom!  I’ve heard of similar incidents.  This so-called “policy” sounds to me     like a big boondoggle for the tow company, and I’m glad to see you’re doing something about it.  Good show of nonviolent resistance, too, stepping in front of the tow truck until the Police sergeant arrived!
  1. Thank you, Tom!  I’ve heard of similar incidents.  This so-called “policy” sounds to me     like a big boondoggle for the tow company, and I’m glad to see you’re doing something about it.  Good show of nonviolent resistance, too, stepping in front of the tow truck until the Police sergeant arrived!
  1. Tom, I think you’re right on target.  The purpose of the parking ban is to facilitate the Farmers Market, not to provide a revenue stream to the City and a larger one to the towing company, nor an opportunity for “officers” to be officious.  I’m not sure I would have stepped in front of a tow truck with a belligerent driver, but your attempt to defuse the situation is exactly what we should expect from our Council member.  Thanks!
  1. Not overzealous at all.  Smells like someone is getting a kickback from A & D.
  1. As a Richmond resident I find it very alarming when a councilmember seeks to terminate a contract with a business based on a personal altercation with one of its employees. Not only is your own behavior in this incident in question, your proposal is extremely anti-business and will threaten good relations with everyone who does business in our City. Can you imagine what newcomers interested in Richmond will think when they see business relationships and policies teetering on the knife’s edge of a councilmember’s whim? Do you think major players, such as the LBLN RFQ Team, will look kindly upon such actions?
  1. In this country a public servant is supposed to work for the people he represents, and as one of your constituents I’d like to remind you that our City has much bigger problems to solve than your personal crusade to right a perceived wrong. I would like you to meet with the owner of this towing company, concede that perhaps tempers flared on both sides, shake hands, and schedule an amicable tow policy review meeting sometime in the future. That’s how reasonable men settle their differences and I have faith that you can accomplish this.
  1. I back you up 100%. I think you should go after the jobs of those involved in this incident. Now, am I overzealous?
  1. I agree with you completely. While you’re at it, can we exchange these cadets for some who understand the importance to their livelihood of good public relations? And many, many thanks to you for all your good work.
  1. Thanks neighbor, agree with you.  -So why isn’t the Pt. Richmond Business Association addressing this issue?!
  1. As a resident of Pt Richmond, I am very appreciative of your concern and involvement in this matter (and many, many others).  One of the reasons we love living here, is the friendly, welcoming atmosphere of this community.  The policies and behavior you described only serve to upset and alienate people.  I support the measures you are taking to address this.


Lisa Vorderbrueggen