Council moves toward easing rules on towers

Been parking in that empty lot next door? Watch out.

Council on Tuesday advanced a bill that could make it easier for towing companies to haul away illegally parked cars.

Currently, towers must wait for police officers to ticket vehicles before moving them. The bill, introduced by Councilman Jim Kenney, would remove that step and instead require towers to simply photograph the cars as evidence of the violations.

"In this age of technology were going to take a step back -- you have to provide the photographic evidence, keep it on file, there s a dispute mechanism, the whole bit," Kenney said. "When someone goes and they pick up their car, they ll have a picture of where it was parked ... so people won t feel that they re being abused."

The bill ironically is rooted in legislation aimed at hindering towers aggressive tactics in 2010, when the parking-ticket requirement was adopted. Police officers often do not have the time to respond to calls about parking violations, and Kenney s bill is aimed at streamlining the towing process while keeping towers accountable.

"Ticketing illegally parked cars is not and should not be at the top of their duties," Kenney said.

The Licenses and Inspections Committee unanimously passed the bill, which was supported by the Police Department, representatives of the towing industry and the Apartment Association of Philadelphia.

The bill could come up for a vote as early as Thursday s Council meeting.

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