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  1. #1
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    Feb 2012
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    Default Auto with Disabled Placard Towed for Not Parking in Visitors Parking Slot

    My question involves an auto with a disabled placard being towed for not being parked in a visitors slot at an apartment complex in Roseville, CA. Here are the facts: I am a retired disabled veteran. I live in an apartment complex that is a gated community and the residents are issued parking decals to display on their autos. There are open (unmarked) parking slots, some disabled slots and specially marked visitors parking slots throughout the premises. Each resident also has a detached garage.

    On the day in question, my regular auto was in the shop for repairs and I was driving a "loaner" auto from the dealership. For obvious reasons, the "loaner" auto did not have an apartment parking decal affixed but I did have a disabled placard visibily displayed in the windshield, hanging from the mirror. The apartment management has a rule that says if you do not have a resident decal, you must park in a designated, specially marked visitors slot. I did not do this because I believed the disabled placard authorized me to park in a non-visitors slot. Moreover the disabled parking slot in front of my apartment where I normally park, was blocked by a contractors truck which, incidentally did not have a disabled placard on display. The contractor truck actually was parked perpendicular across four parking slots, two of which were for disabled individuals, thereby effectively eliminating the availability of two disabled slots. I chose to not park in my garage because of my disability and did not want to have to walk very far because I had groceries and other things to carry.

    The loaner vehicle was towed during the night and it cost me taxi fare and the impoundment fee to retrieve it. Total cost was $270.00. It is my belief that if one's auto has a disabled placard displayed, the operator is authorized to park in residential and business areas that ordinarily require a special decal or permit, without having one, because the disabled placard suffices. Can anyone confirm if this assumption is correct and if so, cite for me the ordinance or traffic code (chapter and verse) that supports this?

    I have requested reimbursement from the Apartment Management but they have refused, stating that it was a legal tow because it was done on private property. I dont believe them and intend to take them to Small Claims Court. And even if they are correct, I think its abysmal that they would stoop to towing a disabled veterans auto that clearly had a disabled placard on display. Especially since I actually live there and was not a "visitor". But, I want to be sure my interpretation of the law supports my position. Can someone please confirm that I am correct or not?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
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    Default Re: Auto with Disabled Placard Towed for Not Parking in Visitors Parking Slot

    How was the management supposed to know that the loaner vehicle belonged to you and was not a visitor parked in the wrong spot?

    Is the property posted at the entrances indicating that vehicles can be towed at the owner's expense per VC 22658? If it was, and it indicates that visitors be parked in designated areas, and residents must have appropriate stickers, then it sounds like the two was likely good to go.

    You can read here for all the ins and outs of the relevant code sections, but you will note that the allowances are for offstreet parking facilities and streets/highways - which this gated apartment community is not.

    It appears that you are out of luck on this one. Perhaps you should have made contact with the management to advise them of the loaner before you parked in an undesignated spot.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  3. #3

    Default Re: Auto with Disabled Placard Towed for Not Parking in Visitors Parking Slot

    It is my belief that if one's auto has a disabled placard displayed, the operator is authorized to park in residential and business areas that ordinarily require a special decal or permit, without having one, because the disabled placard suffices. Can anyone confirm if this assumption is correct
    It's not. The towing company trolls for vehicles in improper spots without the correct decals or placards. Being that the vehicle was towed at night, this sounds like a tow driver making the regular rounds, as opposed to someone from management specifically calling them out to perform the tow. The tow truck driver is only held to the rules as outlined by the management, being, the parking spot and if the permissions displayed on the vehicle are appropriate for that spot as outlined in the rules. The benefit of private property is that THEY get to set the rules. If the rules specify that "A" needs to be present to park in that spot, then "B" is worthless, even if "B" is a really good thing. Anything short of being "A", means the vehicle is ripe for tow.


    The apartment management has a rule that says if you do not have a resident decal, you must park in a designated, specially marked visitors slot.
    Ok. So there's the rule. The choices were to either park in one of those spots, or get with management to get resident identification for the temp vehicle.


    I did not do this because I believed the disabled placard authorized me to park in a non-visitors slot.
    Unless that's SPECIFIED in the rules, it doesn't. Believing something, no matter how strongly, doesn't make it correct. The tow company is guided by black and white rules, and those are the ONLY factors that apply.


    The contractor truck actually was parked perpendicular across four parking slots, two of which were for disabled individuals, thereby effectively eliminating the availability of two disabled slots.
    It's not the tow driver's fault (or problem) that you picked that spot because the contractor had your correct spot blocked. Presumably you have a phone, and a call to the apartments or to the contractor (most are visibly identified on their vehicles) could have been all that was needed to get your spot cleared and the vehicle properly parked.

    I chose to not park in my garage because of my disability and did not want to have to walk very far because I had groceries and other things to carry.
    Presumably the contractor left at some point, clearing up the proper spot? A perfect time to move the vehicle to the proper spot, when you didn't have things to carry.


    I have requested reimbursement from the Apartment Management but they have refused, stating that it was a legal tow because it was done on private property.
    Correct. Their property. Their rules. Rules which the tow company has the obligation to both follow and enforce. If there is an issue with you and the tow company interpreting the rules differently, then you take the tow company to court along with a written copy of the rules for your complex. You should be able to specifically highlight the exact line or lines in the rules that permitted your vehicle to be in that spot - WITHOUT there being ANY additional presumption. Just the black and white rule - because that's what the court will go by to determine if the tow was proper or not.


    I dont believe them and intend to take them to Small Claims Court.
    Unless apartment management specifically called to have your car towed, be prepared to hear that you're suing the wrong party. The tow company made the decision to tow the vehicle based on the incorrect authorization being displayed. The case is against the tow company. But from your own description, as bad as it sucks, it sounds like the driver made the CORRECT call here. Nothing to stop you from going to small claims court, but thus far you appear to be on the loosing end.


    And even if they are correct, I think its abysmal that they would stoop to towing a disabled veterans auto that clearly had a disabled placard on display.
    Abysmal or not, the tow was apparently legal. Courts, including small claims courts, are about proving elements of a tort - here, your own version of events displays that the vehicle was improperly parked/marked for the spot in question. And again, this isn't the apartment complex's fault - you're simply not likely to find a complex that says "these rules apply to everyone EXCEPT disabled vets" (yes, I agree that fundamentally they SHOULD, just giving you the reality that they don't).

    I think its abysmal that they would stoop to towing a disabled veterans auto that clearly had a disabled placard on display.
    Don't say that should you want to go to court. If you think the tow was bad, you will NOT want to hear the judge say to you in front of a courtroom full of people something like "being a disabled vet isn't a license to do whatever you want or that the rules don't apply to you" (and boy, having heard such admonitions in open court before, let me tell you that the whole room winces and it's not pretty...and then the judge goes on with the case).


    Especially since I actually live there and was not a "visitor".
    But the tow driver doesn't know that. That's exactly WHY the markings/tags/placards are SO important - because those are the ONLY indicators to the tow company as to whether or not the vehicle belongs in that spot. If there were the proper markings in place for that particular spot specifically as outlined in the rules, and the tow company towed you anyway, you have a good case for a win. But if the presumption you're working on is NOT outlined in the rules, you can expect to loose. Find a copy of the ACTUAL rules, and read them at FACE VALUE, because that's what the judge is going to do. That will give you the best guidance as to whether you have a case for small claims court or not.
    Catherine NeSmith
    Executive Director
    AARDVARC.org, Inc.
    http://www.aardvarc.org

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  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Auto with Disabled Placard Towed for Not Parking in Visitors Parking Slot

    Quote Quoting aardvarc
    View Post
    It's not. The towing company trolls for vehicles in improper spots without the correct decals or placards. Being that the vehicle was towed at night, this sounds like a tow driver making the regular rounds, as opposed to someone from management specifically calling them out to perform the tow.
    If so, then this may have been an unlawful tow and a crime. VC 22658 generally requires that the landlord or their agent be present or specifically authorize the tow. If parked in a handicapped spot or a fire lane, then 22658 may not apply and the tow operator could have made the tow if under contract. Otherwise, the agent must approve the tow.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    2

    Default Re: Auto with Disabled Placard Towed for Not Parking in Visitors Parking Slot

    Thanks to everyone who contributed comments to my question. You've ben very helpful.

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