by leilani in 311 Requests, Beat Reporter, Consumer Money Saving, Environment and Open Space, Government Reform, Investigative Reports, Politics, Teele Square, Traffic & Parking, Ward 7
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 6:19 pm
Last Modified on January 27, 2011 at 10:00 pm
Happy snow emergency, Somerville towing victims!
I just picked up my car from Dilboy Stadium, a public parking lot, towed for the jolly price of $128. (Oh, don’t worry, City of Somerville – I haven’t forgotten about the additional $100 I still owe you!) $35 of the $128 fee levied by Pat’s Towing is marked “storage.”
When asked who ultimately receives the storage fee,
- the Pat’s Towing General Manager, in an email to Somerville 311 staff, said that Pat’s Towing retains the $35 storage fee, which is capped by the state and fluctuates monthly;
- a Pat’s Towing receptionist said it goes to the City of Somerville, which rents Dilboy to Pat’s during snow emergencies. Asked further about rental rates, the receptionist said she’d have to have management call me back and abruptly hung up. When I called back to give her my number, she laughed, collected it, told me there is not another number I can call myself to reach management, and commented to a nearby employee, “No, I didn’t tell her anything.” So far, neither has anyone else from Pat’s Towing;
- Somerville 311 staff is currently unable to confirm whether the city does, indeed, rent Dilboy to Pat’s Towing. (Update to follow.)
Further, according to current Massachusetts code ch. 159B sec. 6B, effective November 10, 2010,
” The maximum storage charge for non-commercial passenger motor vehicles with a maximum capacity of nine persons, shall be $35 per twenty-four hour period thereof…The maximum rate established herein, shall apply only to lighted, outside storage facilities enclosed by a secure fence or other secure barrier at least six feet in height. Other outdoor storage facilities shall be entitled to a maximum storage rate of only one-half that established above.”
So what does all this mean for us, the towed?
As I haven’t seen any 6+ foot high fences sprouting up around the Dilboy Stadium lot recently, at a bare minimum, Pat’s is charging $35 where they should be charging $17.50. Further, if the City of Somerville is not, in fact, renting Dilboy to Pat’s Towing, Pat’s is privately profiting from the free use of public land. And if the City of Somerville is renting to Pat’s, Somerville has to be held accountable for the fact that they are extorting a minimum of $135 from residents and visitors for snow emergency violations.