Regular readers of Quorum may recall a similar article was published last year, and you may be asking yourself, “Why revisit such an unpleasant topic?” I too share your concerns and don’t want to offer a rehash of a tired story but as our region continues to attract more people (with more cars), it’s imperative for communities and their leadership to evaluate its practices on parking and enforcement should be an integral part of that evaluation.
Towing Gets Your Attention
Let’s face it—towing gets your attention. For many who either live or manage in a community with limited parking, towing is one of the most effective ways of ensuring that the residents, their guests, and other visitors to the property abide by your community’s parking policy. Parking control is critical, especially in many condominium and townhome communities where there are only one to two spaces available per unit, including visitor and overflow parking. With the average American household owning 2.28 cars, effective control measures such as parking permits for both residents and visitors, assigned parking spaces and designated visitor parking areas, coupled with towing enforcement allow for the most effective and equitable distribution of parking.
Selective enforcement will cause serious issues for your community. If you have one-hour visitor parking in your community, you must effectively monitor cars who use this area. To allow one car to park in this area over the allotted time but tow another car that parks in this area more than one hour is an invitation for trouble. As with any rule within your community, managers must ensure that it’s enforced equitably.
If you have an area in your community where parking rules are abused on a regular basis, consider sending a reminder message to your entire community, reiterating the policy and the enforcement of the policy should residents be found in violation. Give them a warning period and once the period is over, then start towing. You have the confidence in knowing that you provided your residents with ample opportunity to comply and can move forward with your enforcement practices without incident.
Towing Is Cost Effective
Towing is effective because the costs are borne by the affected party and not by the community at large. By allowing a towing company access to your property to patrol for possible violations of our parking policy, communities reduce administrative costs related to performing this function in-house such as the costs to produce warning notices, staff to tag offending vehicles, etc. These resources can be used elsewhere for providing additional services to your residents.
Additionally, many of these companies will agree to provide parking permits and parking lot space and line painting in exchange for the access to patrol for offending vehicles. For many associations, this practice can lead to saving a few thousand dollars a year in maintenance expenses.
Also, by employing a towing company to patrol your property, they may also be willing to offer discounted prices for the relocation of vehicles for large-scale projects on your properties such as tree maintenance and removal as well as parking area resurfacing and repairs. As a property manager, I take advantage of these services offered, and the cost is a fraction of what it would normally cost if we were not already a client.
Towing Can Help with a Property’s Curb Appeal
If you live or work in a community with limited parking, nothing burns you up more than to look for a parking space, only to find a run-down, derelict vehicle in a space. When I say derelict, I don’t mean a well-loved, hard-working vehicle with a few dents, scrapes, and dings. Rather, I am talking about that vehicle with the flat tire(s), the very old inspection failure sticker, expired tags, and the even more out of date county decal. If you have several vehicles like this on your property, it can make it look run down in appearance and adding a towing provision for these types of vehicles can further help your property look its best. Be sure that your association’s governing documents allow for you to give authority to your towing company to remove vehicles for these infractions.
Towing Is Controversial
Towing is controversial, and for those communities who use towing as part of its enforcement mechanism, it is not without its challenges. Most tows are without incident, despite media stories to the contrary but on those occasions where a car was towed improperly, communities must have practices in place that provide restitution and equitable resolution to the affected parties.
If your community’s tow operator removes a vehicle improperly, managers should take the lead and move to remedy the situation immediately. The decision to reimburse for a tow fee goes a long way to securing goodwill within your communities.
Yes, the pun is intentional. As with any enforcement tool, it’s important that the pros of the tool outweigh the cons and in the case of towing, it can be difficult for the pros to outweigh the biggest con of towing, and that’s the negative image that most associate with towing. However, it’s important to remember that there are two sides to every story. While our first response to seeing a car being towed by a truck is usually negative, the owner may be thrilled because this tow truck saved them from being stuck in the middle of the road and becoming another traffic story on WTOP. It’s all in your perspective.
By Crishana L. Loritsch, CMCA, AMS, PCAM
Crishana is the general manager of Town Square Towers Condominium located in the SW Waterfront, Washington D.C. She has been an active member of the Washington Metro Chapter CAI since 2002, where she has volunteered on the Quorum Editorial, Membership, and Outreach committees. Crishana has also served as Outreach Committee chair and Secretary on the board of directors and has received numerous awards including Rising Star, Committee Chair of the Year, and the Chapter Appreciation Award to name a few. She currently serves as Communication Council Chair.