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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Towing companies could be banned from roam towing for six months

Three Gainesville towing companies are currently appealing a suspension after an Alachua County judge found them in violation of a city ordinance.

Elite Auto Center, Ultimate Towing and Watson's Towing & Recovery could all be suspended from trespass roam towing for six months, said Gainesville Police Department Lt. Pete Backhaus, who investigated the violations.

Trespass roam towing is when property owners hire a towing company to remove cars that don't have permission to park in their lots.

Although the companies' suspension was to begin last week, they appealed to GPD Chief Norman Botsford on Friday and are awaiting his decision to see if the suspension will go into effect.

Last month Alachua County Judge Thomas Jaworski found the companies had violated an ordinance passed in July requiring towed vehicles to be taken directly from point of tow to point of storage.

The three companies did not comply, especially during football season, Backhaus said.

Backhaus said he wrote an e-mail telling the companies they were violating the ordinance, but they proceeded to accumulate 93 civil violations.

"We told them that they were violating the provisions of the ordinance, but they continued to do it anyway," Backhaus said.

If Botsford decides to uphold the suspensions, the companies could still appeal to Gainesville City Manager Russ Blackburn, Backhaus said.

Botsford has 10 days to decide whether the suspension is legitimate.

The companies would still be allowed to provide all of their services except trespass roam towing if the suspension is enforced.

Representatives from the companies could not be reached by press time.

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UF psychology sophomore Danny Feder, whose car was recently towed from the Reitz Union circle drive, said he would support a roam towing suspension.

"I would love it," Feder said.

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