The Gainesville Police Department and City Commission are working together to protect residents from towing practices that violate city ordinance.
After receiving complaints about aggressive towing practices by email, phone calls, Facebook and even Reddit, District 4 City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos said he plans on amending Gainesville’s towing ordinance to ensure residents are treated fairly.
Hayes-Santos said he’s received complaints that Ultimate Towing of Gainesville, located at 907 SW Third St., has not been accepting credit card payments, which violates Section 14.5-30 of the Gainesville City Ordinance. The ordinance states that businesses with a permit for trespass towing must accept payments in “cash; major credit card; and/or debit card.”
“They need to accept credit cards — not everyone has cash. I don’t have cash,” Hayes-Santos said. “It’s taking advantage of people, it’s a predatory tactic for towers.”
GPD is currently investigating Ultimate Towing and has informed owner Stephen O’Grady that if he does not follow the city ordinance, they will begin the process of revoking his business’ trespass tow service permit, GPD spokesperson Officer Ben Tobias wrote in an email.
“Mr. O’Grady has until Wednesday to reply before we begin the process of revoking their tow ser- vice permit,” Tobias said.
O’Grady said that as of Monday morning, Ultimate Towing has begun accepting credit cards once again. He added that he doesn’t believe his actions ever violated city ordinance since it says “and/or debit card” instead of just “and.”
“I work with GPD on a continual basis, so I don’t see that there’s much of a story there,” O’Grady said. “I don’t believe we were ever in violation.”
Hayes-Santos said that in the past few years, issues regarding towing in Gainesville have flared up.
In 2014, Stan Forron, the former owner of Ultimate Towing, was arrested after stealing two scooters to stage them as if they were parked illegally so that he could then tow them, according to Alligator archives.
Hayes-Santos said he’s looking to revise the ordinance so that other unfair towing practices, such as the use of spotters hired by towing companies, are eventually banned.
“The city needs to prohibit predatory towing tactics,” Hayes-Santos said. “My goal is to have an amended ordinance that puts Gainesville residents first by the start of the Fall semester.”
Contact Molly Vossler at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @molly_vossler