Inside Politics

Philadelphia city council to take on ATVs, rogue tow trucks

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Philadelphia city council members say they are taking on two tough issues plaguing city streets.

At issue: illegal ATVs and dirt bikes causing chaos in several neighborhoods and rogue tow truck operators snatching cars from legal parking spots.

For those ATV operators, council members want to toughen restrictions, increase fines and toughen police pressure.

If passed, the measure will block riding, parking or stopping ATVs on public sidewalks or other public property such as parks and recreation centers.

The fine would be $2,000 or potential forfeiture of the vehicle.

"We have to crack down while we figure out a solution that can benefit those who want to use them as a recreational activity," said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown, (D).

Reynolds-Brown said the biggest problem areas include Parkside Avenue at Fairmount Park.

Meanwhile, the council is going to "plan B" to crack down on rogue tow truck operators.

A plan imposed two years ago requiring police to ticket a vehicle before it could be towed has not worked out. Critics say it takes police too long to arrive.

So, under the new plan, tow truck operators will have to take digital photos showing the entire violation. They will have to show the picture to the driver, and keep the photo on file for two months.

"We felt that having neutral arbiter, a police officer or a parking authority person, would be fair. But, we couldn't get it done," said Councilman James Kenney, (D).

Lew Blum owns the city's biggest private towing service by far. He believes the new plan will go a long way towards driving the unscrupulous rogues out of the towing business.

"It doesn't cost the city nothing, it doesn't cost the waste of a police officer who could be doing other activities in Philadelphia than just doing tickets. Now, we do the tickets in-house," Blum said.

Full public hearings will take place on both measures.

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