- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 29, 2002

Mayor Anthony A. Williams will sign and send to the D.C. Council this week regulations designed to rid the District of illegal activities in the towing industry.
The regulations arrive more than a year after the D.C. Inspector General's Office found that private towing companies were conspiring with some police officers to confiscate and hide vehicles from their owners, then charge them exorbitant impound fees.
The towing regulations set strict limits on how much a towing company can charge a motorist whose vehicle has been towed at the request of a city agency.
The regulations also call for a computerized central towing system to be operated within the Department of Public Works (DPW), which would provide a phone number for motorists to call if their vehicles have been towed.
"Within DPW there will be a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operational phone line with a call-taker that will be able to identify exactly where your car was towed to," said Herbert R. Tillery, deputy mayor for operations.
Mr. Tillery said he expects the computerized system to be working by the end of next month or the beginning of February.
Mr. Tillery, who has led a task force on the regulations since July, said the centralized computer will get at the heart of illegal activity in the towing industry
The Washington Times first reported on the inspector general's findings in August 2001. Shortly after, Mr. Williams vowed to regulate towing in the District by January 2002.
Officials in the mayor's office are hailing the regulations as a symbol of the administration's commitment to improving the quality of life in the city.
"You can color this any way you like," mayoral spokesman Tony Bullock said. "The bottom line is that the regulations have been finalized, the comment periods have been concluded and the whole package is ready for the council."
Currently there are no rules requiring companies that tow vehicles at the request of the Metropolitan Police Department to provide any city agency with information such as vehicle make, license-plate number and towing location.
The regulations would require towing companies to provide the DPW with such information in addition to their name, phone number and who requested the tow.
"All that information will have to be provided before [the tow company] can pick the car up and take it away," Mr. Bullock said.
D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat and one of several officials to have voiced frustration over the lateness of the new regulations, expressed optimism Friday.
"They've gone through several drafts and we've commented on them, and they've gotten a whole lot better through the process," Mrs. Patterson said.

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