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Car Towed while out of state—$875

Discussion in 'Parking Tickets, Towing, Impound' started by k178, Dec 18, 2019.

  1. k178

    k178 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    I need advice about being charged for my car being towed.

    I returned from a week-long holiday vacation yesterday and discovered my car was missing upon return. Assuming it was stolen or towed, I called the towing company on the signage in the parking lot of our HOA. The towing company stated that they didn't even service our area so they had no idea where my vehicle was. I then proceeded to go to the Sheriff's office and they had no record of my car being towed so they claimed I should report it as stolen.

    It was then discovered it was towed by a random towing company (not listed on HOA sign) in a different city and this is why it wasn't showing up on the sheriff's radar. I was able to retrieve my car and was told I parked in my neighbors spot instead of my own the night before I left. I paid $874.00. I know this was my wrongdoing, and wasn't aware I parked one spot over.

    I'm confused if I have any rights. I have referred to the revised California Vehicle Code section 22658.2 and HOA rules and regulations and there are several that are not in compliant with 22658.2 I am trying to figure out if their "rules and regulations" supersede Cali vehicle code.

    A few of the violations stated within 22658.2 include: not being issued a notice my car was towed, using a different towing company, not being contacted by the towing company: etc.

    On the flipside, the HOA rules and regulations state things like:

    1. VEHICLES AND MOTORCYCLES IMPROPERLY PARKED WILL BE TOWED AT THE OWNER’S EXPENSE UNDER CALIFORNIA VEHICLE CODE 22658.2(A). NO WARNINGS WILL BE ISSUED.
    "No warnings will be issued" directly contradicts the vehicle code.

    Also, shouldn't they have to list all the towing companies they are contracted with on the signage? The HOA Rules and Regs also say they can use "anyone they want."

    There are also several rules that have been broken by the towing company, whom are supposed to notify the owner by looking up the license plate, but the rules and regs also contradict this.

    I also am subleasing and have a property management list of contacts and an HOA, any suggestions on where to go first and how? I would like to resolve it without taking legal action if possible. My landlord is also very difficult to deal with, so I'm hoping I can take care of it on my own. Thanks!
     
  2. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    You agreed to the terms of the HOA when you bought the home. You likely have no recourse.

    It's a pretty lousy thing for them to do, but HOA's aren't known for leniency.
     
  3. k178

    k178 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Yes, agreed, I am subleasing but i know they still apply to me. I received some legal advice that even though someone having a car towed can use who they want, they are still required to list the towing company on signage. (Which was the incorrect company). This would protect the tower's car from being told it was stolen (as I was).
     
  4. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Who called for the tow?
     
  5. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    The signage issue isn't one that will get you reimbursed.
    You would need to show the vehicle was wrongfully towed, or that the person who authorized it did not have authority.
     
  6. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Sentence number 3 would probably be the verbiage inhibiting you from recovering a dime.

    If you read your lease (and the Nazi Administered Rules of the HOA) such an admission could potentially lead to your eviction.

    Kicking a hibernating bear can often be deleterious for the person kicking said dormant bear.
     
  7. k178

    k178 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I believe my neighbor had it towed because I had a nasty note from them on my car. Thanks for the advice guys. I'll just try to push past this.
     
  8. flyingron

    flyingron Active Member

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    It does sound like an improper tow. You should inform the HOA of the violations of the code section you mention and demand reimbursement. You can point out that if you take them to court, you would be entitled to twice as much and that they also sustain criminal liability for these actions.
     
  9. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Here you go, the laws/ordinances of the city of Laguna Niguel, CA as promulagated by their police department:

    https://www.cityoflagunaniguel.org/DocumentCenter/View/1232/Towing-and-Parking-Laws?bidId=

    I'll tease you with the first paragraph:

    Either the president of the Association or his/her designee or agent may authorize a vehicle to be towed off of private property or a commercial lot.

    A security company may be considered as an agent or representative of the Association. Only in the case of a fire lane, handicap, or entrance/exit blocking violation may a tow truck company act without an HOA representative present.

    In all other instances the president, his/her designee, or agent must be present and must sign an authorization.

    A “wet signature” (signature of a live person at the scene, not a stamp or copy) should be requested. A photograph must be taken by the tow truck company if the violation is a fire lane, handicap or blocking an entrance/exit.

    The photograph must be presented to the owner of the vehicle when requested.

    Read and smile, because things are looking up for you, mate.

    Merry Christmas.
     
  10. k178

    k178 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I saw this yesterday when researching—BUT the HOA rules just shimmy around it. Here is an excerpt:

    9. EACH TOWNHOME WILL BE ASSIGNED ONE COVERED CARPORT AND ONE UNCOVERED PARKING SPACE. ADDITIONAL PARKING IS AVAILABLE ON PUBLIC STREETS AND UNASSIGNED PARKING SPACES. EACH STREET HAS ONE GUEST PARKING SPACE. EACH TOWNHOME WILL BE ISSUED A CERTIFICATE ASSIGNING THEIR PARKING LOCATIONS, AUTHORIZING THE TOWNHOME OWNER TO HAVE A TOWING COMPANY OF THEIR CHOICE REMOVE ANY VEHICLE PARKING IN SAID TOWNHOME OWNER’S ASSIGNED SPACES. (THE TOWING COMPANY MUST BE SHOWN PROOF BY THE RESIDENT THAT THE RESIDENT LIVES AT THE UNIT ASSIGNED TO THE SPACE BEFORE TOWING CAN BE IMPLEMENTED).

    2. VEHICLES AND MOTORCYCLES IMPROPERLY PARKED WILL BE TOWED AT THE OWNER’S EXPENSE UNDER CALIFORNIA VEHICLE CODE 22658.2(A). NO WARNINGS WILL BE ISSUED.
     
  11. flyingron

    flyingron Active Member

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    Except that the HOA rules can't trump the state law. In order to authorize a tow, you need to meet one of the requirements listed. 22658.2(a) requires a warning in most cases either a sign with the actual towing companies used, or a written 96 hour notice on the vehicle, or the vehicle has to be inoperable (and they still need to notify the police and wait 24 hours).
     
    army judge likes this.
  12. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    I disagree. Signage was in place and it was addressed in the HOA rules.
    While the tow company may not have followed proper procedure, the tow itself seems legit and nothing about it suggests any relief is due.
    The only possible argument I see is if the person who authorized the tow lacked authority to do so, in which case that person (not the tow company) may be liable. The person whip authorized the tow likely signed a waiver acknowledging this liability at the time of the tow.
     
  13. flyingron

    flyingron Active Member

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    There was signage but it failed to comply with the rules. 22658.2(A) requires the sign bear the information for the towing company(s) that are authorized to tow. The company that was used for tow was not listed on the sign. The person who authorized the tow, hence, has committed a crime and the towee is entitled to twice the tow charge.
     
  14. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I believe you are right about this being an improper tow, but I want to point out that CVC 22658.2 does not require notification prior to tow in all situations.
     
  15. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    That a different tow company was used would not get the owner reimbursement. The parking violation occurred and is acknowledged by the owner. This is more of a procedural issue since the tow company may not have reported the tow as required.
    The person authorizing the tow did not commit a crime. It is more of a tort if anything.
    The city/county could take corrective action against the tow company if necessary, but the owner's dispute is with whoever authorized the tow if they lacked authority to initiate it.
     
  16. flyingron

    flyingron Active Member

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    Why not? If the requirements of 22658(a) are not met, section (e)(1) states that relief.
    OK, it's not a crime, it's an infraction under (e)(2) and subject to $1000 fine.
     
  17. flyingron

    flyingron Active Member

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    It requires either ticketing the car and waiting 96 hours -or- proper signage -or- that the car was inoperative and reported to law enforcement and 24 hours elapsed.

    So "without warning" for non-inoperative cars require proper signage, which WAS NOT DONE here.
     
  18. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    The intent of the law is apparently to warn of potential tow and inform owners where to find their vehicle in the event it is taken. That procedure may not have been followed is a different issue. However it happened, there are reporting and notice requirements that are supposed to be followed. It is not clear how long the car was in storage and whether those notice requirements were met.

    The tow company has no liability in this as presented.
    A proper sign was in place.
    The HOA agreement further indicates other tow companies may be used.
    The owner must show the person authorizing the tow lacked authority for the tow. If so, a fine is not payable to the owner. The owner would have to initiate a civil action to recover costs.
    Aside from that are procedural issues, none of which will lead to any reimbursement for the tow.
     
  19. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I never mentioned "without warning", I simply stated that "prior notice" is not required in all situations.
     
  20. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Notice isn't required in most situations. That is the purpose of the sign.
     

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