A Towing Victim Fights Back after DPT’s Public Private Partnership Clears the Streets

Here’s the thing – you gotta have rules. One rule in San Francisco is that you gotta move your car out of many parking spaces by 3:00 PM in the Financial District, or else you’re going to get a hefty ticket and a memorable tow job. Why? Cause rush hour is coming and the Spice Must Flow.

But what if you come back to your car while the tow truck is hooking you up? I’ve seen cases where the tow truck operator will release the vehicle under the assumption that the driver immediately leave. All right. You still have to pay the parking ticket, but all right.  But what if the truck makes it a block away and you, the car’s owner, hop on the tow truck to halt its progress?

As here. It’s well after 3:00 PM on Drumm Street between California and Sacramento, so you get a ticket and a tow. Just another day in paradise.

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But what’s this? The owner grabbing onto the passenger door handle and  hopping up on the tow truck’s running board after chasing it down for a block to Market Street? Yes!

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Let’s everybody call the SFPD to clear things up. And let’s conversate about the situation.

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Here’s the thing. The government has an interest in keeping the streets clear for traffic, so it can’t be Mr. Nice Guy. It’s got to enforce the rules or we’ll have chaos. (Although in this case, leaving the car there in that particular case wouldn’t have affected traffic a whit, in all probability) Conversely, the tow truck company has an interest in making money. (That’s why whenever I hear the phrase “public private partnership” the first thing I think is the potential for corruption.) The tow truck driver here has pretty much done all the work already, so what does he gain from releasing the vehicle? Nothing. In fact, he loses.  

So, the tow truck operator focuses on the fact that it’s after 3:00 PM and the vehicle owner focuses on the fact that he’ll drive his offending vehicle out of the way just as soon as the truck driver lets him. The public interest would be satisfied by releasing the vehicle at the scene, but not the private.

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Note the 101 California security officer monitoring the scene from the background. In his six years on the job, he’s never seen the cops tell a tow truck driver to let the driver and vehicle go. Also note the old-school, Oscar-the-Grouch-style mini trash can on the truck. What’s up with that?

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Let’s leave this scene now as I left it, all involved waiting for the SFPD to show up.

On it goes…

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