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  AN ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 6 OF THE CHARLOTTE CITY CODE
ENTITLED “BUSINESSES AND TRADES”
________________________________________________________________
 
WHEREAS, the City of Charlotte has a significant governmental interest in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the general public and preserving the public order; and 
 
WHEREAS, G.S. 160A-174 allows a city by ordinance to define, prohibit, regulate, or abate acts, omissions, or conditions, detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of the public, and the peace and dignity of the city; and
 
WHEREAS, some practices related to the non-consensual towing of motor vehicles from private property has resulted in the public and members of the towing industry being exposed to harm; and 
 
WHEREAS, the City Council desires to minimize and control the harmful and adverse effects that occur during the non-consensual towing of motor vehicles; and 
 
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT ORDAINED by the City Council of the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that:
 
Section 1.  Chapter 6, Article XI “Businesses and Trades” of the Charlotte City entitled “Towing and Booting Businesses” is amended to read as follows:
 

“ARTICLE XI.  Towing and Booting Business

 
 
Sec. 6-561.  Definitions.
 
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
 
Motor Vehicle means a Class A, B, or C Motor Vehicle as defined in G.S. 20-4.01
 
Private parking lot means any parking lot or area owned by a private entity that provides parking spaces for a fee or requires the permission of the owner, lessee or agent before a person may park at that location. A private parking lot includes vehicle parking spaces in an apartment complex.
 
Tow means to haul, carry, pull along, or otherwise transport or remove a motor vehicle by means of another vehicle.
 
Towing service includes any person or other entity, whether licensed or not, that engages in or who owns or operates a business which engages, in whole or in part, in the towing or removal of motor vehicles for compensation.
 
Trespass towing means the towing or removal of a motor vehicle, without the consent of the motor vehicle's owner or operator, that is parked on a private parking lot without the property owner or agent's consent.
 
Wheel Lock means a boot, wheel lock or any other device that is attached to a vehicle that is designed to immobilize the vehicle. 
 

Sec. 6-562. Towing of vehicles for compensation.
 
No towing service shall conduct a trespass tow of a Motor Vehicle from a private parking lot for compensation when the point of origin of the tow is within the jurisdictional limits of the city without complying with the provisions of this article.
 
 
Sec. 6-563. Trespass towing of vehicles from private parking lots; signs required.
 
(a) It shall be unlawful to tow or remove or immobilize by use of any wheel lock or other method, a vehicle that is parked on private property without the permission of the owner or lessee of the motor vehicle unless notice is posted in accordance with the provisions of this section on the private property from which the towing, removal, or immobilization occurs.  The notice shall meet the following requirements:                 
  1. The notice must be in the form of a sign structure and not less than 24 inches by 24 inches and not larger than 6 square feet and constructed of metal, plastic or other type of material that is enduring in nature.   The notice shall be prominently posted on the private property at each access or curb cut allowing vehicle access to the property and within five feet of the street right of way line. If there are no curb or access barriers, notices shall be posted not less than every 50 feet of the frontage of the public street.  In the alternative, a sign not less than 12 inches by 18 inches in size may be posted at each parking space from which an unauthorized vehicle could be towed, removed, or immobilized.
  2. The notice shall clearly display the following:  
    a.  In not less than one-and-one-half inch high letters on a contrasting background, the words “tow-away-zone” or “towing enforced.”

    b. In not less than one inch high letters on a contrasting background, a statement that parking is never authorized by stating “private property - no parking” or where parking is permitted under limited circumstances, by stating “leased parking”, “parking for  ----  customers only”, “parking for residents only”, or a similar phrase that specifically identifies the conditions under which someone may park on the property.

    c. If parking is not prohibited on a 24 hour continuous basis, then the notice shall state the days of the week and the hours of the day during which unauthorized parking is prohibited.  The notice shall  also state the costs for the tow or booting of the vehicle. 
  3. The sign displaying the required notices shall be permanently installed with the bottom of the sign not less than 1 foot above ground level and not more than 8 feet above ground level.
  
 
Sec. 6-564.  Trespass towing of vehicles from private parking lots; fees
 
(a) It shall be unlawful to engage in trespass towing of motor vehicles except in accordance with the following provisions:    
  1. Fees
    a. The fees for a completed trespass tow (the complete removal of a motor vehicle from a private lot) for all motor vehicles as defined by this ordinance shall be as follows:
         1.         ---------- or less for any Class A Vehicle
         2.         ---------- or less for any Class B Vehicle
         3.         $120.00 or less for any Class C Vehicle

    b. The fee for each tow shall be all inclusive. There shall not be any additional fees assessed by the towing service for booting or for a private parking violation. No additional fees may be charged for using dollies, trailers, lifts, slim jims or any other equipment or service.

    c. The fee for storing a towed motor vehicle shall be $15.00 a day and shall not begin for 24 hours from the time the motor vehicle enters the lot.

    d. The fee for booting a vehicle shall not exceed $50.00.  A fee for booting shall not be charged if a completed trespass tow has occurred.

    e. A  booting service must accept cash and all major credit and debit cards.
 
Sec. 6-565.  Trespass towing of vehicles from private parking lots; Practices.
 
(a)  Any tow service that has initiated a non consensual trespass tow by, securing the motor vehicle to the tow truck by a hook, chain, cable or similar device, but has not completely removed the trespass vehicle from the private lot, shall upon the request of the vehicle owner or operator, release said vehicle without a charge. 
 
(b) Any tow service that is engaged in a trespass tow shall, upon request of the owner or operator of the motor vehicle, permit the owner or operator access to the trespass vehicle for the purpose of retrieving personal property from the vehicle without paying a fee. If personal items are removed from the motor vehicle by the towing service, then upon request those items will be returned to the owner or operator at no cost.
 
(c) Any towing service that engages in a trespass tow or any storage facility that receives motor vehicles that have been towed as a result of a non-consensual tow from private property shall accept cash and all major credit and debit cards for any fee established by this Article.
 
(d)  Any tow service that engages in a trespass tow or any storage yard that receives motor vehicles that have been towed as a result of a non-consensual tow from private property shall have a person on call 24 hours every day who acknowledges requests to retrieve a towed vehicle within 15 minutes of receiving an inquiry from the owner or operator. If the owner or operator wishes to retrieve the motor vehicle, then the tow service or storage facility must make the vehicle available within 45 minutes.
 
(e)  The lot or facility to which a trespass towed vehicle is removed shall be located within the city limits of the City of Charlotte.
 
(f) No towing service shall remove a motor vehicle from a private lot unless the owner or agent of the private lot signs a contemporaneous specific written authorization for such removal which is presented to the driver of the towing service. The written authorization shall contain the reason for the tow, the make, model, year, color, vehicle identification (VIN) and license plate number.  The wrecker driver shall contact the non-emergency number for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and provide the above information.  The vehicle will not be removed from the private lot until the driver has been advised of a complaint number.
 

Sec. 6-566.  Interference with a towing service
             
(a) It shall be unlawful for anyone to obstruct or interfere with a towing service that is carrying out a trespass tow on private property or a tow conducted pursuant to a contract with the City of Charlotte except:
  1. When the owner or operator verbally requests the towing service to release the motor vehicle pursuant to this Article; or
  2. When the owner or operator verbally requests the towing service to release the motor vehicle pursuant to the provisions of a towing contract with the City of Charlotte; or
  3. When the owner or operator verbally requests the towing service to retrieve personal property from their motor vehicle.
 
 
 
Sec. 6-567.  Penalty
 
Any person who violates a provision of this article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor as provided by G. S. 14-4.