In its June decision in King v Town of Chapel Hill, the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the authority of local governments to regulate involuntary towing of vehicles from private property. However, the court clarified that this authority does not include caps on the fees towing companies may charge. Although the case was about Chapel Hill’s towing ordinance, the court’s decision also affects towing rules in Carrboro and other towns and cities in North Carolina.
Before the court’s decision, Carrboro’s towing ordinance prohibited towing companies from charging more than $100 per tow, charging $20 per day for storage, and charging for the first 24 hours of storage; and required towing companies to accept payment by major credit/debit card and cash. The ordinance also included various requirements about the signs that property owners must post to warn drivers about towing.
So, where does the King decision leave us in Carrboro? Towing companies still must accept payment by cash and major credit/debit cards. Also, property owners still must post appropriate signage to warn drivers about the possibility of towing. However, the town may no longer limit the amount that towing companies charge.
Last night, the Board of Aldermen amended the Town Code to reflect the Supreme Court’s decision. For more information, see the agenda item here. And to really go to town on this topic, see Coates’ Canons, a blog about local government law in North Carolina.