City of Ithaca, NY
Tompkins County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Ithaca 9-2-1998 by Ord. No. 98-24[1]; amended in its entirety 3-4-2020 by Ord. No. 2020-02. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Appearance tickets — See Ch. 6.
Traffic Violations Bureau — See Ch. 116.
Recreational vehicles — See Ch. 316.
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 346.
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 317, Vehicles, Removal of, adopted 2-1-1995 by Ord. No. 95-3, as amended.
Unless otherwise expressly provided, for the purpose of this chapter, the following words shall have the meanings herein indicated:
ABANDONED VEHICLE
A vehicle that has been left unattended and has not moved in 72 hours on any public street, highway or parking facility.
CITY
The geographical area of the City of Ithaca.
FOR HIRE
Includes any incident where a fee, charge or other consideration is, directly or indirectly, imposed for towing, carrying or removing any vehicle, and shall be inclusive of repairs made on a towed vehicle for a consideration, although no charge is expressly imposed for the towing of such a vehicle.
NONCONSENSUAL TOW
The towing of a vehicle made at the request of someone other than the owner or operator of the vehicle towed.
OPERATE
Includes the control and direction of the use of a vehicle for towing from places within the City of Ithaca, for hire.
PERSON
Includes an individual, partnership, unincorporated association, corporation or other entity.
TERMINAL
Any place of business of a tow truck operator located within the County of Tompkins.
TOWING
The moving of a vehicle from public or private property by another vehicle for hire.
TOW TRUCK
A vehicle which is equipped with a crane, winch or similar device designed to raise, remove or carry a motor vehicle or the front or rear end thereof.
TOW TRUCK OPERATOR
Includes a person owning, leasing or controlling one or more tow trucks and driving, operating or causing any such vehicle to be operated upon the public highways for hire.
VEHICLE
A motor vehicle, as defined in § 125 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law of the State of New York; a bus, as defined in § 104 of such law; a tractor, as defined in § 151-a of such law; a trailer, as defined in § 156 of such law; or a truck, as defined in § 158 of such law.
The City of Ithaca shall follow the provisions of the City of Ithaca Tow Service Requirements and Policy. Said policy shall be posted to the City website and filed in the City Clerk's office.
A. 
A vehicle may be removed by the Superintendent of Public Works, the Police Chief, the Fire Chief or their designated staff members in the following instances:
(1) 
When any vehicle is found unattended on any highway or public parking lot within the City during a snowstorm, flood, fire or other public emergency which affects that portion of the public highway or public parking lot upon which said vehicle is parked or abandoned.
(2) 
When any vehicle is found unattended on any highway, public parking lot or private property within the City where said vehicle constitutes an obstruction to traffic, a safety hazard, has been left unattended and has not moved in 72 hours, or obstructs ingress to and egress from private property.
(3) 
When any vehicle interferes, obstructs or restricts the mobility of or blocks the path of travel of a Fire Department emergency vehicle in any way, or hampers any Fire Department operation.
(4) 
When a designated fire lane is obstructed in any manner, including the parking or standing of vehicles, on private or public property.
(5) 
When any vehicle deters or hinders the immediate access to fire protection equipment or fire hydrants.
(6) 
In instances involving property appurtenant to and obviously part of a one-, two-, or three-family residence.
(7) 
Where notice is personally given to the owner or other legally authorized person in control of the vehicle that the area in which that vehicle is parked is reserved or otherwise unavailable for unauthorized vehicles and that such unauthorized vehicles are subject to being removed at the owner's or operator's expense.
(8) 
Where a duly authorized traffic ticket for illegal parking has been issued.
(9) 
Where posted signage indicating that parking is not permitted. Such signage shall meet the following requirements:
(a) 
The signage must be prominently placed 24 hours prior to the towing or removal of the vehicle from the premises.
(b) 
The person posting the signs shall be responsible for documenting the date, time, and location that signs are placed and shall be required to provide that information to City officials upon request.
B. 
Agencies that fail to meet this requirement will be subject to reimbursing tow fees if deemed appropriate by City officials. The removal or use of these signs without proper authority shall be considered a civil violation punishable by § 1-1 of the City of Ithaca Municipal Code.
Whenever a person has failed to respond to at least five separate notices of violation for separate parking violations, the City may send to the owner of the motor vehicle by mail a notice to the effect that such person has failed to respond to at least five separate notices of violation for separate parking violations and that the owner's vehicle is subject to being impounded and/or being immobilized. Upon the mailing of such letter, the owner of the vehicle shall immediately be responsible for the cost of sending such notice, including administrative overhead. The owner shall have 10 days from the date of mailing of such letter to respond to the notices of violation. If the owner does not respond to all the notices of violation within said ten-day period, and thereafter the vehicle is found unattended, parked upon a street or any City-owned property or property under the jurisdiction or control of the City, the vehicle may be impounded by or under the direction the Chief of Police or Superintendent of Public Works or their designees giving authorization to a commercial towing or wrecker service to tow the vehicle and store it in a safe place until claimed by the owner; or it may be immobilized by or under the direction of the Chief of Police or Superintendent of Public Works or their designees in such a manner as to prevent its operation.
The operator of a vehicle shall be liable for the fines and penalties imposed for violations of improper parking, standing, or stopping. In addition, except as provided in § 239, Paragraph 2, Subdivision b or e, of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, the owner of the vehicle, even if not the operator thereof, shall be jointly and severally liable with the operator thereof if such vehicle was used or operated with the permission of the owner, express or implied, but in such case the owner may recover any fine or penalties paid by him/her from the operator.
A. 
Vehicles may be towed away or removed without additional notice to the owner in the following instances:
(1) 
From property appurtenant to and obviously a part of a one-, two-, or three-family residence.
(2) 
Where notice is given to the owner or other legally authorized person in control of the vehicle that the area in which that vehicle is parked is reserved or otherwise unavailable for unauthorized vehicles, and that such unauthorized vehicles are subject to being removed at the owner's or operator's expense.
B. 
Additional notice required. Private property owners shall not authorize or participate in the towing, storage or disposition of vehicles illegally parked or abandoned unless the owner or person(s) in charge of the vehicle shall be notified by one of the following methods:
(1) 
By posted signage on the premises meeting the following requirements:
(a) 
The notice must be prominently placed on the premises and be continuously maintained on the premises for 24 hours prior to the towing or removal of any vehicle from the premises;
(b) 
The notice must clearly indicate, in letters not less than two inches high on a contrasting background, that unauthorized vehicles will be towed away at the owner's or operator's expense. The notice must state clearly how long, if at all, or under what conditions a vehicle may park before being towed or removed from the premises;
(c) 
The sign structure must comply with the provisions of Chapter 272, Signs; or
(2) 
By issuance of a duly authorized traffic ticket for illegal parking. A vehicle tow report will be completed by the Police Department and name the property owner as the complainant.
C. 
If the vehicle is not removed after proper notice is given as set forth above, the vehicle may be towed immediately thereafter.
D. 
If the vehicle is to be towed by order of a private property owner after such notice as required in Subsections A and B above, the tow truck operator shall inform the 911 Dispatch Center immediately after removal. The identifying information regarding the vehicle shall be entered into a log to be maintained by the 911 Dispatch Center.
E. 
When towing of a vehicle from private property is being effected pursuant to this section, the towing operator called must be one listed on the City of Ithaca rotation list.
F. 
The Ithaca Police Department and the City of Ithaca shall not be responsible for the costs associated with towing a vehicle from private property.
This chapter shall take effect immediately and in accordance with law upon publication of notice as provided in the Ithaca City Charter.