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.
Interesting meeting between Senator Kay Hagan and several Orange County elected officials today. Chapel Hill Town Council member Maria Palmer made a passionate statement about Hagan’s vote against the DREAM Act. Hillsborough commissioner Jennifer Weaver spoke about the urgency of climate change and pleaded with Senator Hagan to reconsider her support of Keystone XL and other impending disasters.
I spoke on the following 3 issues:
- Carrboro has a higher percentage of residents who commute by public transportation than any other community in North Carolina. (Side note: We also have the highest percentage of bicycle commuters in the state.) However, federal and state funding for transit projects is becoming more difficult to access. I spoke about the importance of increasing the ready availability of these funds (which used to be available through earmarks) and the need for transportation legislation with an authorization period longer than 2 years to enable more effective planning for large transit infrastructure projects.
- I thanked Senator Hagan for supporting marriage equality and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and for opposing Amendment 1. I asked her to consider cosponsoring Senate Bill 1790, the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act, which was introduced by Senator Coons in December. Nearly 40,000 North Carolinians are living with HIV/AIDS. North Carolina is one of more than 30 states where the health code stigmatizes and criminalizes behaviors of people with HIV/AIDS. The REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act calls for interagency review of these discriminatory federal and state laws and regulations. (I also gave a shout-out to the NC AIDS Action Network.)
- Finally, I asked Senator Hagan to reconsider her opposition to providing a conditional path to citizenship for undocumented immigrant youth. More than 1 in 5 Carrboro residents were born outside the United States. These are largely Latino and Asian immigrants, many of them children, many of them undocumented. The defeat of the DREAM Act in 2010, due largely to a handful of Senate Democrats breaking ranks (like Senator Hagan), was a real heartbreaker for more than 50,000 young North Carolinians for whom the legislation would have offered an opportunity to become citizens of the state and country where they grew up.
See here for an important update. [September 3, 2014]
With the news today that the North Carolina Court of Appeals lifted the injunction on the Town of Chapel Hill’s towing ordinance, here’s a primer on the Town of Carrboro’s rules about the towing of vehicles from private property:
- The towing company may not charge more than $100 for the towing of your car.
- The towing company may not charge more than $20 per day for the storage of your car.
- The towing company may not begin charging for the storage of your car until 24 hours after towing the car.
- The towing company must accept payment by major credit/debit card or cash.
To learn more, read page 8-32 of the Carrboro Town Code at http://townofcarrboro.org/TC/PDFs/TownCode/TownCodeCh08.pdf.
The town will be sending a letter this week to local businesses explaining the towing rules. If a towing company tells you something inconsistent with the rules above, please contact the town manager at TownManager@townofcarrboro.org.