Predatory parking leads to predatory towing.  Predatory towing leads to predatory media.  Predatory media leads to predatory politicians.  This is the vicious cycle of parking enforcement, and it doesn’t help anybody.

Ah, yes.  The vicious cycle.  It all starts with “predatory parkers.” They know who they are.  Who, honestly, in their right mind has “absolutely no idea” that it is wrong to park at one business, leave the property, and walk to an entirely different business?  Who, honestly, in their right mind doesn’t know that they shouldn’t park in a fire lane, handicap stall, or in a permit parking only area without a permit?  I have seen people exit their vehicles, look at the signs reading “permit parking only,” look around to see if anyone is watching, check to see if other vehicles have permits (and they do), and then make the conscious decision to leave their vehicle where they should not.  That is predatory.

I understand that not all parking violators are “predatory” in nature, but many are.  Neither are all towing companies predatory in nature.

Just as some “predatorily park” some “predatorily tow.” “Predatory towing” occurs when tow companies intentionally break the law to make a quick buck.  I don’t feel the need to write much about this, as the media writes…all the time… about this just fine.  Needless to say that it does exist and it’s unfortunate that it does.  I do, however, have a hard time understanding why our society thinks it is fine for a cop to hide behind a fence, bush, or bridge abutment, with his radar gun zapping people from the shadows but a towing company can’t watch for people who park and leave private property.  Why is the towing company predatory and not the cop?  As long as private property is clearly marked (similar to a speeding sign) then how are these two scenarios any different?  Why does this make the towing company “predatory?”

After some predatory parking and some predatory towing, then, inevitably, comes the “predatory media.”  The same disclaimer applies to the media: not all media is predatory.  But just like the predatory parkers and the tow truck drivers, the media is out for itself.  How they love to make a quick story and tap into the hatred of towing companies.  How they love to instill fear and hatred.  How they love to make honest, decent companies look like the scum of the earth.  I have personally been on the short end of this stick once or twice.

I received a phone call from a reporter who had many questions about a particular vehicle we had towed.  After our conversation he wrote an article about how we had towed a car illegally and because we had damaged the vehicle, we lost a $10,000 case in court.  This could not have been further from the truth.  In all actuality, we had towed the car legally, had photo evidence proving no damage, and the only reason we lost in court was because I forgot to show up (whoops).  It was such a ridiculous case that when I received the summons I set it aside and forgot all about it.  Of course, I told the reporter that we would be presenting our evidence before a judge in a few weeks and that he should come to the hearing to get the full scoop.  Instead, the reporter hastily covered our story, and wrote no follow up after we won (hands down) in court.

To anyone that is reading this…. Please just know that there is such a thing as “predatory media,” which is the third piece to this vicious cycle.

And finally, enters the “predatory politician.”  I simply won’t make the same disclaimer for them:  all politicians are predatory in nature… (I’m joking, but only slightly).  Representative Joe Blow is looking for a way that he can “save the people” so that he can “save his next election campaign.”  They publicize the “predatory towing” and ride in on their white horse.  They try to pass some law to end it.  But instead they make it more difficult for honest men to run a decent company.  As with all extensive law passing, let us look to the great state of Texas  They are “ahead of the game.”  Tow companies cannot give “kickbacks” to property owners.  Some cities have passed laws about waiting a certain amount of time before a vehicle can be towed from the property.  And guess what?  The towing industry is *thriving* in Texas.  Literally tens of thousands of cars are towed in Harris County each month alone.  Why?  Because the laws don’t help.  If a private property owner wants a vehicle off of his property, it will be towed.  Politicians would never be so idiotic to take away that basic right from property owners.  It is the only solution in high traffic areas.   And as long as people are towing, there will always be good companies and bad companies.  Tougher and more stringent laws simply make it harder for honest men to run a business and so you can, potentially, push them out of the industry and be left only with people that are willing to bend or break rules.  I have seen this happen in a few areas.

And so the cycle continues….. Predatory parking to predatory towing to predatory media to predatory public officials.  And the best, most simple way to fix it all?  Don’t park where you shouldn’t.