RALEIGH, N.C. — How would you like to park for free in downtown Raleigh in the evenings? Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker would like nothing better, but not everyone's happy with that idea.
Margaret Rose Murray knows firsthand the problems associated with having her car towed. She attended an event at the BTI Center For Performing Arts and found out later that her car was gone.
"No one was hurting that gravel lot. They're just like vultures coming down on someone. You would not want that to happen to you," driver Margaret Rose Murray said.
After hearing lots of complaints like Murray's, Meeker introduced his predatory towing ordinance Tuesday. The ordinance would ban towing in the downtown central business district from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Some towing companies said Meeker's plan is not taking everyone's rights into consideration.
"It appears to be that the mayor has an agenda that he is trying to get across, and it seems that it is probably, in my opinion, that it is at the expense of a lot of people that he is not considering," towing company owner Andy Munday said. "A lot of private property owners also have rights."
Meeker admitted that he has an agenda, but it is designed to protect the public's interest. He said some towing companies use unmarked spotter cars to call in tow trucks and pounce on new business.
"We have citizens who have been greatly inconvenienced, who are being put in jeopardy at night by improper towing, and I plan to ask the [city] council to do something about it," Meeker said.
"If towing a car or towing a vehicle from a lot that's properly marked, which I have the right and authority from the landowner to tow from, is predatory towing, then I guess I'm a predatory owner," Munday said.
Meeker also has some alternatives to towing such as putting the boot on cars. Meeker said his boot plan would cost violators $50 to have it removed from their cars.
City attorney Tom McCormick said the mayor has the authority to ban a practice that is operating legally as long as it is a public safety issue. A public hearing on the towing ordinance is set for April at Raleigh City Hall.
When your car is towed, it can be more than inconvenient, it can be expensive. WRAL found that it costs about $125 to recover a towed car.
Follow Five On Your Side's First Investigation of Questionable Towing Practices:
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Attorney General Files Suit Against Former Brentwood Towing
Judge Orders Brentwood Towing to Turn Over Records
Brentwood Towing Faces Misdemeanor Charges After DMV Investigation
Brentwood Towing Victims, Attorney General, Speak Out
Brentwood Towing Gets Visit From State Investigators
Towing Victims Question Practices of Raleigh Company