City of Ithaca, NY
Tompkins County
By using eCode360 you agree to be legally bound by the Terms of Use. If you do not agree to the Terms of Use, please do not use eCode360.
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] 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Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 317, Vehicles, Removal of, adopted 2-1-1995 by Ord.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.
[Added 11-5-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-19]
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.
[Amended 1-4-2006 by Ord. No. 2006-1]
A. 
Every tow truck operator who wishes to be included in the Police Department's tow truck list and/or heavy vehicle tow truck list for towing ordered by the Police Department pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall meet the following requirements:
(1) 
Each tow truck shall be kept fit, of good appearance and in safe condition for towing.
(2) 
Each tow truck shall have inscribed on the outside of each front door the trade name and business address of the tow truck operator, in letters not less than two inches in height, either painted or otherwise securely affixed to both doors in a conspicuous place.
(3) 
Each tow truck shall have a fire extinguisher, safety flares, tow chain, pry bars, and suitable brooms, shovels and containers for cleanup.
(4) 
A schedule of fees as listed in this chapter shall be posted in a conspicuous area on the premises of each tow truck operator and shall be made available upon demand to the general public. A copy of their towing fees must also be kept in the tow truck.
(5) 
Tow truck operators shall be responsible for removing glass or other injurious substances dropped upon the public highway by the towed vehicle.
(6) 
Tow truck operators shall keep a record of calls and the fees charged for any towing transaction. Said records shall be made available to the Ithaca Police Department upon request.
(7) 
Tow truck operators shall own, operate and maintain a bona fide terminal within Tompkins County where they will store vehicles towed from within the City of Ithaca. The terminal shall be identified by a legible, conspicuously displayed sign. The sign shall include the name and telephone number of the tow company and be a minimum size of two feet by two feet.
(8) 
The terminal must be fenced, locked and lighted in a manner to ensure the safety of vehicles stored on the premises.
(9) 
Tow truck operators shall allow for the properly authorized release of motor vehicles in their custody 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They may charge an extra fee for vehicles that are retrieved after their regular operating hours as set forth in § 317-14A(6) below.
(10) 
Tow truck operators shall not exceed the gross combined weight rating of their tow trucks.
B. 
A tow truck operator who wishes to be included in the Police Department's tow truck list(s) shall file with the Police Chief documentation showing that he/she is insured against public liability in the limits required by law, which insurance certificate shall name the City of Ithaca as an additional insured party, as well as an application upon forms to be furnished by the Police Chief, verified under oath, and stating:
(1) 
The name and address of the tow truck operator and the address of the place from which the tow trucks are proposed to be garaged and dispatched, specifying, in the case of an unincorporated association, the name and address of each member thereof and, in the case of a corporation, of each officer and stockholder.
(2) 
The location of any and all depots and terminals proposed to be used by the applicant.
(3) 
Whether the operator wishes to be included on the heavy vehicle tow truck list.
(4) 
Any other relevant information which the Police Chief may require.
C. 
After review of the application, and provided that the tow truck operator meets the requirements of Subsection A above, the Police Chief shall place the tow truck operator on the Ithaca Police Department's tow truck list and/or heavy vehicle tow truck list. The Police Chief shall establish reasonable rules and regulations for the inspection of tow trucks to ensure compliance with the requirements of this section.
D. 
Tow truck operators on the tow truck list shall be authorized to tow motor vehicles involved in accidents or to have motor vehicles towed or impounded for violations of law by order of the Ithaca Police Department pursuant to § 317-13 below, provided, however, that in instances where time is critical, such as in cases of a snow emergency or auto accident, the officers of the Police Department reserve the right, in their discretion, to call the next operator on the tow operator list if the operator that has been called fails to respond to the scene within a twenty-minute time frame.
A. 
The Police Chief may remove any tow truck operator from the Police Department towing lists upon a finding that the tow truck operator:
(1) 
Violated any of the provisions of § 317-2A above.
(2) 
Violated any of the provisions of § 317-14, pertaining to removal and storage charges.
(3) 
Repeatedly refused calls or failed to answer calls from the Police Department for towing services.
(4) 
Failed to cooperate with Police Dispatchers or any member of the Ithaca Police Department at the scene of any accident or a scene where a vehicle is to be impounded or towed.
B. 
Removal for a first violation shall be for a period of up to six months, and for a second violation for a period of up to 12 months. A third or following violation may result in permanent removal from the list.
A. 
Any tow truck operator whose application to be added to the Ithaca Police Department's towing lists has been denied or has been removed from the lists, may apply to the Common Council for a review of the action by the Police Chief.
(1) 
The application to review the Police Chief's determination shall be in writing, signed by the tow truck operator, and shall state his/her reasons for claiming that the Police Chief's determination was erroneous.
(2) 
The application for review must be filed with the Police Chief within 20 days of receipt by the tow truck operator, either by mail or in person, of notice of the Police Chief's decision.
(3) 
Upon the filing of the application for review, the Common Council shall appoint an ad hoc committee, consisting of three members of the Common Council, and hold a hearing on the application.
(4) 
The ad hoc committee of the Common Council shall, at the hearing, review the decision of the Police Chief, and, in its discretion, may receive new or additional evidence in support of or in opposition to the determination under review.
B. 
The ad hoc committee of Common Council, after the hearing, may either affirm the determination of the Police Chief or direct him to add or restore the tow truck operator to the Ithaca Police Department's tow truck list.
A. 
The hearing by the ad hoc committee of Common Council shall be held on a date and at a place and hour designated by the committee.
B. 
The Police Chief shall give notice of the hearing, stating the name and address of the tow truck operator concerned, the subject matter of the hearing and the date, place and hour thereof, by mailing a copy thereof to the tow truck operator at the most recent known address of the tow truck operator, at least 10 days before such hearing.
C. 
The tow truck operator involved shall be entitled to be represented by legal counsel at the hearing and to present such testimony or other evidence in his own behalf as may be relevant to the subject matter of the hearing.
D. 
All witnesses shall be sworn and examined under oath.
E. 
Any tow truck operator aggrieved by a decision of the ad hoc committee of Common Council may apply to the Supreme Court of the State of New York for review under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.
A vehicle may be removed by the Department of Public Works or by order of the Police Department in the following instances:
A. 
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.
B. 
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.
[Amended 11-5-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-19]
C. 
In instances involving property appurtenant to and obviously part of a one-, two-, or three-family residence.
D. 
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.
E. 
Where a duly authorized traffic ticket for illegal parking has been issued.
F. 
Where written notice setting forth the following information was posted on the windshield of the vehicle:
(1) 
That the vehicle is illegally parked, abandoned or in trespass, as the case may be.
(2) 
That, if the vehicle is not first removed, it shall be towed after four hours to a local responsible wrecker service facility which will, of necessity, result in towing and storage charges accruing to the owner or person(s) in charge of the vehicle.
(3) 
The time and date when the notice was posted.
G. 
Posted signage indicating that parking is not permitted, and meeting the following requirements: The signage must be prominently placed and be maintained for 24 hours prior to the towing or removal of the vehicle from the premises.
[Amended 11-5-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-19]
[Amended 11-5-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-19]
A. 
Selection of a towing company.
(1) 
When the services of a tow truck are required, the Police Dispatcher on duty shall notify the appropriate towing company according to the guidelines hereinafter set forth.
(a) 
If the vehicle to be towed is under 10,000 pounds' gross weight (five tons), then the next towing company on the police tow truck list will be called. The Police Dispatcher will record the call in the "Police Towing" log.
(b) 
If the vehicle to be towed is over 10,000 pounds' gross weight (five tons), then the next tow truck on the heavy vehicle tow truck list will be called. The Police Dispatcher will record the call in the "Heavy Vehicle Police Towing" log.
(2) 
A towing company may not designate another towing company to answer the call. If a towing company is not available, the next towing company on the list will be called.
(3) 
The location of the incident shall not determine which towing company is to be called, unless life safety is involved. In such instance, the nearest operator to the scene will be called for assistance.
(4) 
Requests of vehicle owner.
(a) 
On request of the owner of the vehicle requiring towing, the owner may designate what towing company is to be called. This call will not be recorded in the police tow truck list, but will be recorded in a "Requests for Towing" log to be maintained by the Police Department. Such a request will not change the order of the police towing company list. When an owner does not designate a specific towing company and leaves it to police discretion, the next towing company on the police towing list will be called as set forth in this subsection.
(b) 
On request of the owner of a vehicle for towing by the Automobile Association of America (AAA), the authorized AAA towing company will be called and the call placed in the "Requests for AAA Towing" log.
(c) 
On request of the owner of a vehicle, the vehicle may be towed to any destination designated by the owner. In the event the vehicle is not towed to the storage yard of the towing operator, the owner of the vehicle shall make arrangements for payment of towing and storage fees with the operator of the tow truck and/or owner of the garage or other facility to which the vehicle is to be towed.
B. 
In the event that a tow truck operator refuses to accept a call or does not answer a call, the next operator on the list will be called. The tow truck operator refusing or failing to answer a call will not be called again until the operator's name next appears in order to receive a call.
C. 
No vehicle impounded by the Ithaca Police Department shall be released to the owner of such vehicle without proper authority for release from an authorized member of the Department.
D. 
The Ithaca Police Department shall not be responsible for the payment of towing and/or storage of motor vehicles. Owners of vehicles are liable for the payment of all charges connected with towing or storage. It shall be the responsibility of the tow truck operators to arrange for the collection of all charges.
[Amended 10-3-2001 by Ord. No. 2001-10]
Upon the removal and disposition of any vehicle by order of the Ithaca Police Department or Department of Public Works, it shall be the duty of the Ithaca Police Department to ascertain to the extent possible the owner of the vehicle or person(s) in charge of the vehicle and notify him/her of the following information as soon as practicable:
A. 
That the vehicle has been towed, the location of the vehicle and the towing and storage costs accruing.
B. 
That the vehicle may be claimed by paying the accrued costs or by posting a bond for such charges.
C. 
That an investigation of the tow by an impartial officer designated by the Mayor regarding whether the tow was authorized by this section may be requested by applying, in writing, for such investigation within 15 days of receipt of notification of towing. Such application for investigation shall include the reason or reasons the applicant believes the tow was not authorized.
D. 
That the owner will be liable for all towing and storage costs accrued until the vehicle is claimed and released from storage, unless it is determined that the tow was not authorized.
E. 
That if the vehicle is not claimed or an investigation requested within 15 days, the city shall confirm a lien against the vehicle for the amount of accrued towing and storage fees and proceed to sell the vehicle at public auction as provided by law. Any proceeds of sale shall be applied first to towing and storage charges. The city shall retain the balance of the proceeds.
[Amended 10-3-2001 by Ord. No. 2001-10]
A. 
After the removal of any vehicle as provided in this chapter, the person authorizing the removal may cause such vehicle to be stored in a suitable place. The owner or person in charge of the vehicle may redeem the vehicle upon payment to the responsible tow truck operator of the amount of all expenses actually and necessarily incurred in effecting such removal, but not to exceed the removal charges as established by Common Council, or by posting a bond with the City Chamberlain or the responsible tow truck owner for the cost of said charges.
B. 
Towing investigation.
(1) 
In instances where a vehicle was removed by order of the Ithaca Police Department or Superintendent of Public Works, the owner or person in charge of the vehicle may request a towing investigation before an impartial officer designated by the Mayor to determine whether the towing of the vehicle is authorized by this chapter. The investigator will review documents and/or information related to the tow as provided by the applicant and by the Ithaca Police Department or Superintendent of Public Works. Such investigation shall be completed within 15 business days after the request therefor.
(2) 
The owner of the vehicle shall be liable for all towing and storage fees accrued during the time the vehicle remains unclaimed, or in storage, unless it is determined that the tow was not authorized by this section.
(3) 
If it is determined that the tow was not authorized under this section, the owner of the vehicle shall be discharged from any obligation for the removal and storage charges. The City of Ithaca shall be responsible for the removal and storage charges in all cases where the removal was effected by the Superintendent of Public Works or by order of the Ithaca Police Department.
(4) 
If the owner or person in charge of the vehicle does not claim the vehicle or request an investigation within 15 days of being notified of the tow, the city shall be entitled to assert a lien against the vehicle for the amount of accrued towing and storage fees and proceed to sell the vehicle at public auction as provided by law.
[Amended 11-5-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-19]
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 of an officer or designated employee of the Police Department 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 an officer or designated employee of the Police Department 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.
The public auctions required herein and pursuant to the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law shall be conducted by the City as often as is necessary in its discretion, but in no event less often than three times per year at intervals of approximately four months.
[Amended 1-4-2006 by Ord. No. 2006-1; 1-7-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-01]
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 in accordance with the procedure under § 317-14 below.
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 Ithaca Police Department immediately after removal. The identifying information regarding the vehicle shall be entered into a log to be maintained by the Police Department.
E. 
When towing of a vehicle from private property is being effected pursuant to this section, the towing operator called must be one who maintains a bona fide terminal within Tompkins County, and the vehicle so towed may not be stored at a location outside the County.
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. Tows from private property shall not be subject to a towing investigation as noted in § 317-9 above.
[Amended 4-4-2001 by Ord. No. 2001-2; 1-4-2006 by Ord. No. 2006-1; amended 3-1-2006 by Ord. No. 2006-4; 1-7-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-01]
A. 
Removal and storage charges for nonconsensual towing of vehicles in the City of Ithaca, whether on public or private property, are hereby established as follows:
(1) 
Removal charges shall not exceed $100.
(2) 
An additional fee, not to exceed $25, may be charged in the instance where a police officer makes the determination that a special problem or circumstance exists. A "special problem or circumstance" means the removal of any vehicle that involves additional steps such as snow removal, difficult access to a locked vehicle, extra cleanup, or winching. The use of dollies, flat beds, ramps, jacks, or slings are not considered a special problem or circumstance. A request shall be made by the tow truck operator to the police officer at the scene of the tow that the tow be treated as a special problem or circumstance removal. Reasons for the request shall be stated by the tow truck operator to the police officer at the scene and shall be recorded in the "Vehicles Towed" report. Approval or denial of the request is to be made at the discretion of the police officer at the scene of the tow and indicated on the "Police Towing" log. Denial of the request by the police officer shall cause the tow to be deemed an ordinary removal.
(3) 
Extraordinary removal charges shall be based on the actual costs of the use of the extraordinary equipment, plus labor charges. "Extraordinary removal" means the removal of any vehicle requiring the necessary use of one or more additional tow trucks, a crane or other extraordinary equipment other than regular or special towing equipment.
(4) 
A fee not to exceed $30 may be charged by the tow truck operator to the owner or operator of any vehicle requiring removal services as provided in this chapter whenever the owner or operator appears to remove the vehicle after the tow truck operator has hooked up the vehicle for towing or removal, but before the vehicle has been removed from the scene.
(5) 
Storage fees not exceeding $25 per day or fraction thereof may be charged by the tow truck operator after the vehicle has been stored for more than 24 hours.
(6) 
An after-hours service charge not to exceed $25 may be charged by the tow truck operator whenever the tow truck operator is called to release a vehicle from the storage yard during the hours 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Upon the request and tender of the required fee, it shall be the duty of the tow truck operator to release a stored vehicle at any time of the day and on any day of the week, including weekends and holidays unless there is a restriction or hold on such vehicle as per a law enforcement agency or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
(7) 
The costs for towing services rendered, pursuant to this section, are subject to the appropriate state tax.
(8) 
No additional fees, other than the fees that are set forth herein, shall be assessed against the vehicle.
B. 
Violation of any provision of this chapter shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $250 or by imprisonment for a period not exceeding 15 days for each such offense, or by both such fine and imprisonment. Towing operators, and/or their agents or assigns that violate the provisions as set forth herein are subject to removal from the City towing list for such period of time that the Chief of Police deems appropriate.
This chapter shall take effect immediately and in accordance with law upon publication of notice as provided in the Ithaca City Charter.