PS ITEM #2
July 13,2015
Worksession #2
MEMORANDUM
July 9, 2015
TO:
FROM:
SUBJECT:
Public Safety Committee
/XJ
lL
Josh Hamlin, Legislative Attornet.:tt\
Worksession
2: Bill 17-15, Motor Vehicle Towing and Immobilization on Private
Property Amendments
Bill 17-15, Motor Vehicle Towing and Immobilization on Private Property - Amendments,
sponsored by Lead Sponsor Councilmember Berliner, and Co-Sponsors Council members Rice,
Katz, Navarro, Hucker, Riemer, EIrich, Council Vice President Floreen and Council President
Leventhal, was introduced on April 14, 2015. A public hearing was held on June 16, and a Public
Safety Committee worksession was held on June 29.
As introduced, Bill 17-15 would:
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)
authorize the County Executive to set flat rates for certain towing services;
add certain notice and towing procedure requirements;
provide certain additional enforcement powers for the Office of Consumer
Protection;
prohibit the immobilization of certain vehicles; and
generally amend the law governing motor vehicle towing and immobilization on
private property.
Background
Chapter 30C of the County Code governs the towing or immobilization of motor vehicles
on private property without the consent of the vehicle owners, and has not been substantively
amended since 1997. Bill 17-15 would make a number of changes to the law to better protect
public safety in incidents where vehicles are towed without their owners' consent.
County Authority to Regulate Trespass Towing
Nonconsensual towing of vehicles from private property, or "trespass towing" is regulated at the
federal, state, and local level. Towing generally is regulated at the federal level under the Federal
Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA), which includes a general
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preemption of state and local regulation of the "price, route, or service of any motor carrier ...
with respect to the transportation of property." Tow trucks are included in this preemptive
language. Since the enactment ofthe FAAAA, the United States Supreme Court has held that laws
regulating the storage and disposal ofa vehicle, once towed, "are not sufficiently related to a motor
carrier's service with respect to the transportation of property to warrant preemption under [the
FAAAA]."1 Under this ruling the County may regulate activities related to towing, once the tow
is complete.
In addition to the post-tow regulation, local jurisdictions may enact laws "relating to the
price of for-hire motor vehicle transportation by a tow truck, if such transportation is performed
without the prior consent or authorization of the owner or operator of the motor vehicle."2
Additionally, there is a broad exclusion from the preemptive language of the FAAAA to allow a
state (and a political subdivision of a state) to enact laws under its safety regulatory authority.
It
is under this authority that the County's regulation oftrespass towing is enacted.
The State of Maryland has also enacted laws regulating trespass towing.
3
Under the State
law, "nothing ... prevents a local authority from exercising any power to adopt local laws or
regulations relating to the registration or licensing of persons engaged in, or otherwise regulating,
in a more stringent manner, the parking, towing or removal, or impounding of vehicles.,,4 Thus
State law does not preempt the County from regulating trespass towing, subject to the stringency
requirement.
5
June 16,2015 Public Hearing
The Public Safety Committee held a public hearing on the Bill on June 16,2015. There
were 30 speakers at the hearing, representing a wide range of perspectives on the issues covered
in the Bill. Eric Friedman, Director ofthe Office of Consumer Protection (OCP), spoke on behalf
of the County Executive, and expressed support for the Bill with a number of additional
recommendations. The remainder ofthe speakers at the public hearing generally represented four
perspectives: business owners and property managers, towing companies, homeowners'
associations (HOAs) and condominiums, and "victims" of predatory towing practices.
Concerns expressed by business owners and property managers ranged from descriptions
of the hardship that illegal parking imposes on business to concerns more specific to Bill 17-15's
proposed changes, particularly related to overnight tows and increased signage. Representatives
from the towing industry were also concerned with the proposed specific authorization
requirements for overnight tows and signage, but also objected to the Bill's proposed ban on the
use of "spotters," its "photographic evidence" requirement, and the grant of additional powers to
OCP.
Dan's City Used Cars, Inc.
v.
Pelkey,
133 S.
Ct.
1769,1775 (2013).
249 U.S.C.
§
14S01(b)(2)(C).
3
MD. Transportation Code, MD. Transportation Code,
§§
21-10A-Ol through 21-10A-06.
4
Id.,
§
21-IOA-O 1(b)(2).
5
Certain areas of local towing regulation less stringent than State law may also be pennitted under certain sections of
the State law, such as the distance ofthe tow, and many other restrictions on towing. See
§§
21-10A-03 and 21-IOA­
I
04.
2
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Representatives ofHOAs and condominiwns also were primarily concerned with Bill 17­
15's proposed changes with regard to overnight tows and signage. However, at least one
condominium association board member decried predatory towing practices and urged the Council
to enact the Bill. Vehicle owners whose cars were towed from private property told stories of
having their cars towed immediately after stepping offthe premises ("walk-off" tows) and alleged
mistreatment by towing companies.
June
29,
2015 Worksession
At its worksession on June 29, the Committee discussed the Bill, which as introduced
would make a number of significant changes
to
the County's trespass towing law. The Committee
also considered a number of additional amendments proposed by the Executive. The Committee
recommended a number of amendments reflected in the revised draft of the Bill (©1-29). Bill 17­
15, with amendments recommended by the Committee would:
• restructure Chapter 30C by splitting §3OC-l into two sections, clearly stating that the
purpose of the Chapter is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of County residents,
consolidating enforcement provisions into a single section, and making technical changes
(lines 4-102; lines 622-641);
• require the Executive to set flat rate maximwn rates for towing (including hook-up,
transport to storage area, and the first 24 hours of storage) and storage after the first 24
hours (lines 103-126);
• authorize the Office of Consumer Protection to issue subpoenas for documents and
information relevant to the investigation of a complaint filed with the Office (lines 630­
633);
• retain the exemption from the express authorization requirement for tows between 2:00 am
and 9:00 pm as it exists in the current law (lines 349-357);
• require photographic evidence of violation or event precipitating the towing of a vehicle,
and require that photographic evidence to
be
provided to the vehicle owner along with the
receipt required under existing law (lines 358-364; 574-575);
• authorize OCP investigators to order release of a vehicle to prevent a breach of the peace
or when there is reasonable cause to believe the tow is or would be unlawful (lines 625­
629);
• prohibit immobilization ofvehicles on private property without the owners' consent (lines
632-735);
• amend Chapter 30C to
be
consistent with State law, allowing OCP to enforce the law rather
than police. These amendments relate to:
• identification, registration, and insurance of tow trucks; age of drivers (lines 135­
139);
• number of signs (lines 220-227);
• sign specifications (lines 228-252);
• notice requirements for trespass tows solely for violation of State motor vehicle
registration law (lines 381-384);
• storage lot signs and hours of operation (lines 483-487);
• Inspection and retrieval of personal property (lines 585-591); and
3
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• Notice provisions requiring that a towing company provide the same information
provided to police under existing law to the vehicle owner, any secured party, and
the insurer of record, within seven days after the towing or removal of the vehicle,
and authorizing a fee for providing the notice only for vehicles not reclaimed within
48 hours after towing (lines 426-433; 127-130);
require all new contracts between towing companies and property owners to include
reference to the liability and obligations ofproperty owners under the law (lines 169-183);
require property owners who wish to engage in non-consensual towing to fIrst
electronically register their commercial lots and provide quarterly reports on towing
activity (lines 186-204);
allow residential and commercial property owners to have unauthorized vehicles towed
after following certain notice procedures in lieu of posting all required signs (257-301);
require
written
authorization for each tow in the form of a tow authorization form provided
in person, or via fax, email, or other electronic means approved by the Director of OCP
(lines 303-348);
make the towing company exclusively responsible for the law's notifIcation requirements,
and both the property owner and the towing company subject to tow authorization form
retention requirements (392-425);
retain the existing County law providing for a release fee for incomplete tows, but set the
fee at $25, and require receipts required under current law to include reference to the
County Code fee provisions, and identify and include photographic evidence of the
violation that precipitated the incomplete tow (lines 443-464;125-126);
require storage facilities to accept payment both in cash and by credit card, and have
personnel onsite for redemption of vehicles 24 hours per day, seven days per week (483­
518); and
clearly provide that a property owner is not liable for towing when it is not expressly
authorized and the property owner does not otherwise have a business relationship with the
towing company (lines 606-609).
Remaining Issues for Committee Discussion
What
is
the best way to prevent towing companies from actively and independently identifying
vehiclesfor towing?
Bill 17-15 would outlaw the use of individuals whose job is essentially to call in tow trucks
to remove unauthorized vehicles, commonly known as "spotters." The bill defines a spotter as an
individual whose "primary task" is to report the presence of unauthorized parked vehicles for the
purpose of towing or removal. "Primary task" is defined as meaning an individual's job function
that accounts for more than 50% of the individual's compensation or hours worked." Spotters are
one of the major complaints heard by OCP and Council offices.
Where spotters are used, tows are called in often by the spotter, rather than the actual
property owner, and the spotter may wrongly identify a violation, leading to an improper tow. In
the June 29 worksession, Councilmember Hucker observed that tow truck drivers frequently serve
as "spotters." This situation leads to the active "hunting" of vehicles to tow, not because they
inconvenience the property owner, but because they represent profits for the towing company. The
4
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proper balance in trespass towing is to allow private property owners to protect their private
property while avoiding tows that are improper or overly aggressive. The penalty for the driver
when their car is towed is severe. For simply walking offproperty to get a cup of coffee next door,
property can be taken and can only be reclaimed by paying a substantial fee. As noted in the packet
for the June
29
worksession, Council staff believes that, to the extent that spotting encourages cars
to be towed without actual authorization from the property owner, it should not be allowed, as it
significantly increases the likelihood that an innocent driver will be victimized.
Committee members expressed an interest in strengthening the Bill's provisions pertaining
to the use of spotters, and staff looked for other examples of laws banning the practice. Existing
State law prohibits the use of spotters,6 and oflocal counties, only Howard County prohibits their
use. However, other local jurisdictions such as Orange County, Florida
7
ban the use of spotters,
and Broward County, Florida
8
and the State of New Jersey,9 have gone so far as to ban patrol
towing altogether. None of the jurisdictions that ban ·spotters specifically include a definition
requiring a certain percentage of time or compensation dependent of "spotting" activity, as does
Bill 17-15. Orange County, Florida's law simply provides that "no towing or immobilization
service shall employ or otherwise compensate individuals, commonly referred to as 'spotters' who
report the presence of unauthorized parked vehicles for purposes of immobilization or towing.
Unlike the Maryland State law, which provides that a spotter is an individual whose
"primary task" is to report unauthorized vehicles for towing, the Orange County law appears to
ban the activity by towing company employees entirely. Such an approach would avoid possible
enforcement difficulties in determining, and proving, how much of an alleged spotter's time is
spent on, or compensation derived from, spotting. A law similar to Orange County's may be
vulnerable to the same attack on vagueness that resulted in the Maryland provision being struck
down, albeit temporarily but, given that it would be a broader general prohibition on the activity,
and not dependent on the definition of "primary task," it may well survive such a challenge.
An
additional challenge of a law generally banning spotting by towing companies would be
enforcement.
It
would be extremely difficult to prove that a tow truck driver is engaged in spotting,
versus just waiting near or in a parking lot waiting for a call.
The possibility ofadding a requirement to the Bill that the property owner or owner's agent
initiate a tow was discussed at the June
29
worksession. This would also address the problem of
tows being motivated by a towing company's profit motive rather
than
a property owner's interest
in keeping spaces open for authorized vehicles. However, as was intimated by OCP staff at the
worksession, enforcement of such a requirement would be nearly impossible. Staff was unable to
identify any other jurisdiction that has implemented such a requirement.
court ruling held the State's ban on spotters
to
be unconstitutionally vague, because it lacked a definition of
the term "primary task," but the Maryland Court ofAppeals has since held that the lower court should have dismissed
the towing company's complaint as not ripe, because the company was not facing a specific threat of enforcement at
the time it filed its complaint.
Marylandv. G&C
Gulf,
Inc.,
Misc. No.4 (Sept. Term 2014) (April 22, 2015). Bill 17­
IS's definition of "primary task" should ensure that such a County law would survive a vagueness challenge.
7
http://www.orangecountytl.netINewsroomlNewTowingOrdinanceEn forcementBegins.aspx#.
VY'vvujk
JC2w
8
http://www.ccti.net/HOAFLTOWAbuse.html
9
6
A lower
http;j.by''\:YF.~llicOnSum~BLffairs.gQ.yLNe~s!.consllm.~!JgQH.f.iefsL'tY.!:lat-y,Q.Y.-should-kI)oyv-about-getting-towed.p.9J
5
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Another alternative is the approach taken by the State of New Jersey, which makes it
unlawful for a trespass towing company to "monitor, patrol, or otherwise surveil a private property
for the purposes of identifying vehicles parked for unauthorized purposes and towing a motor
vehicle parked for an unauthorized purpose from such private property without having been
specifically requested to tow such vehicle by the owner ofthe property."IO Like the Orange County
law, this approach would prohibit a company, motivated by profits generated by towing,a large
volume of vehicles, from initiating the tow, but should
be
somewhat easier to enforce.
It
should
also eliminate the problem, cited by Councilmember Hucker, of tow truck drivers essentially
functioning as spotters by trolling private lots for unauthorized vehicles.
If
the Committee wishes to
be
more restrictive of tow truck drivers acting as spotters, it
could do this by following the New Jersey model and amending lines 385-391 of the Bill as
follows:
ill
[[A property owner or towing [[service]] company must not employ or
use the services of an individual commonly referred to as
§:
"spotter."
whose primary task is to report the presence of unauthorized parked
vehicles for the purpose oftowing or removal. For the purposes of this
subsection, "primary task" means an individual's job function that
accounts for more than 50% of the individual's compensation or hours
worked.]] Except between 2:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.. a towing company
must not monitor. patrol. or otherwise surveil private property for the
purposes of identifying unauthorized parked vehicles for towing and
removal.
If
the Committee does not amend the Bill as described above, staff recommends an
amendment that would effectively permit property owners to employ spotters. The current draft
of the Bill would prohibit both a property owner and a towing company from using spotters. This
could arguably be construed to unduly restrict the activity of parking lot attendants, and does not
further the objective of removing the incentive for vehicles to be towed for profit rather than to
keep parking spaces clear for customers or residents. If the Bill is not otherwise amended to limit
the restriction to towing companies, staff recommends amending lines 385-386 of the Bill as
follows:
10
New Jersey Statutes, Annotated
§
56:13-16(h).
6
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ill
A [!property owner or]] towing [[service]] company must not employ or
use the services of an individual commonly referred to as
~
"spotter,"
Would a prohibition on the use ofspotters orpatrol towing make it virtually impossible to comply
with the Bill's photographic evidence requirement?
If the Council decides to prohibit the use of spotters
by towing companies,
or otherwise
restrict patrol towing, the requirement that photographic evidence be obtained prior to towing an
unauthorized vehicle may in many instances be impossible to meet under the amendments
recommended in the June 29 worksession. This would occur because under the amended language,
the
towing company
would be responsible for obtaining photographic evidence of a violation prior
to towing the vehicle, while also being prohibited from actively looking for violations. This
problem could be remedied, and the photographic evidence requirement be retained, by requiring
"a person"
(e.g.,
the property owner or an employee of the property owner) to obtain the
photographic evidence before towing
or authorizing the towing of
an unauthorized vehicle.
Staff recommendation:
amend lines 354-357 of the Bill as follows:
QJJ
Before towing or authorizing the towing of an unauthorized
vehicle from private property
[[.'I.
~
person]] under this Section, [[the
towing company]]
~!£
1"\'''~1'''B!!'u\~n
must obtain photographic evidence of
the violation or event that precipitated the towing of the vehicle.
The photograph must be available for ...
Can the County increase the amount offines for violations ofChapter 30C?
Violations of Chapter 30C are Class A violations under Section 1-19 ofthe County Code.
Ii
A Class A violation is punishable as a misdemeanor subject to a maximum fine of $1,000 or not
more than six months injail, or both. Alternatively, a Class A violation may, in the discretion of
the enforcing agency, be punishable as a civil violation subject to a maximum fine of$500 for the
initial offense and $750 for subsequent offenses.
Section 1-19 sets forth a three tiered schedule of fines and penalties, with Class A being the highest. The schedule
is as follows'
Civil Violation Maximum Penalty
Criminal Violation
Class
Maximum
Maximum Jail
Initial
Repeat
Fine
Offense
Term
Offense
$1000
$500
$750
6 months
A
$150
B
$200
30 days
$100
$75
$50
$50
None iffine is paid;
C
10 days otherwise
II
7
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The decision whether to issue a criminal or civil citation is based on a number of factors,
and is made by the enforcing agency in this instance, OCP. Enforcement procedures are set out
in Section 1-18 of the Code, and in either case, a summons must be issued along with a citation.
There are two key distinctions in the processes for criminal and civil citations that staff understands
have been critical in OCP decision to enforce Chapter 30C by imposing civil penalties. First, a
summons issued in conjunction with a civil citation gives the cited person the option to pay the
fine in lieu of appearing in court. There is no such option with a criminal summons, so each
criminal citation must go to court. Also, in instances where the recipient of a civil citation elects
to stand trial, the burden of proof on the County is to show that the defendant is guilty by a
preponderance of the evidence. In contrast, a criminal citation trial is governed by State law and
the rules of the court, and the burden of proof is higher. The County must show that the defendant
is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Should the County require a "waiting period" before an unauthorized vehicle
is
towed from
private property?
At the June 29 worksession, Councilrnember Katz expressed interest in considering
requiring a sort of "grace period" before a vehicle could be towed from private property. Staff
looked for examples of other jurisdictions that mandated that a property owner wait a period of
time before having an unauthorized vehicle towed. The State of California is the only example
identified by Council staff. California law provides that, subject to certain exceptions, "an owner
... of private property that is held open to the public ... for parking of vehicles at no fee ... shall
not tow or remove, or cause the towing and removal, of a vehicle within one hour of the vehicle
being parked.,,12 Exceptions to California's "one hour rule" include vehicles "illegally parked
within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, in a fire lane, in a manner that interferes with an entrance to, or an
exit from, the private property, or in a parking space or stall legally designated for disabled
persons." The rule also does not apply to "property designated for parking at residential property,
or to property designated for parking at a hotel or motel where the parking stalls or spaces are
clearly marked for a specific room."
A fundamental problem, in staff's view, with requiring a property owner to wait a period
of time before having an unauthorized vehicle removed is that it arguably amounts to a legislative
sanction of an activity that deprives a property owner of the use of the owner's property, even for
a short period of time.
It
would effectively legislate free short-term parking on private property,
with no recourse for the property owner. Requiring a "waiting period" would likely just shift
arguments about
whether
a towed vehicle was illegally parked to
how long
the vehicle was illegally
parked. While the intent behind such a provision, to reduce overaggressive "walk-off' tows, is
certainly in the public interest, staffbelieves that shifting the burden of this problem from vehicle
owner to property owner is an inequitable reallocation of costs between two presumably good
actors without addressing the actor - the predatory towing company that causes the problem.
12Califomia Vehicle Code,
§
22953.
8
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Also, staff believes that imposing a California-style waiting period, even if significantly
shorter, could hurt small businesses with a relatively small number of dedicated parking spaces.
These businesses typically do not do a large volume of business; to prevent them from clearing
parking spaces ofunauthorized vehicles immediately could cost them a small number ofcustomers
that nonetheless represent a significant share of their business. If the Committee believes that
imposing a waiting period is warranted, staff believes that such period limited to the towing of
unauthorized vehicles from large commercial lots with 100 or more parking spaces.
Should the County require a towing company to accept payment by credit card ofthe release fee
for incomplete tows?
In the June 29 worksession discussion of the issue of release fees, concern was expressed
that the payment of a release fee, after a vehicle has been attached to a tow truck but not removed
from the property, appeared to many consumers to be a "shady transaction." The Committee
recommended a number of changes to the applicable section ofthe law, setting the fee at $25 and
requiring information about the County law and receipts that identify the violation, include
photographic evidence, and inform the vehicle owner of the owner's rights under the law.
An
additional measure to require that payment of the release fee be accepted by cash
or credit card,
as is the case when redeeming an impounded vehicle, would further improve the appearance ofthe
transaction, and would allow owners that are not carrying cash to reclaim their vehicles prior to
the completion ofthe tow.
Staff recommendation: Amend lines 448-449 of the Bill as follows:
Section [[30C-2(c)]] 30C-3(c). The towing service must accept payment
by cash or credit card as under Section 30C-9(b) and must not charge any
other fee for attaching or releasing the vehicle.
This packet contains:
Bill 17-15
Legislative Request Report
Fiscal and Economic Impact statement
Circle #
1
30
31
F:\LAW\BILLS\1517 Towing\PS Memo 071315.Docx
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Bill No.
17-15
Concerning: Motor Vehicle TOwing and
Immobilization on Private Property ­
Amendments
Revised:
July 8. 2015
Draft No.
~
Introduced:
April 14. 2015
Expires:
October 14, 2016
Enacted: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
Executive: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
Effective: __________________
Sunset Date: -!..:!.Nol:!!n.!.!:e:...-_ _ _ _ _ __
Ch. _ _ Laws of Mont. Co. _ __
I
COUNTY COUNCIL
FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND
Lead Sponsor: Councilmember Berliner
Co-sponsors: Councilmembers Rice, Katz, Navarro, Hucker, Riemer, Eirich, Council Vice
President Floreen and Council President Leventhal
AN
ACT
to:
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)
authorize the County Executive to set flat rates for certain towing services;
add certain notice and towing procedure requirements;
provide certain additional enforcement powers for the Office ofConsumer
Protection;
prohibit the immobilization of certain vehicles; and
generally amend the law governing motor vehicle towing and immobilization on
private property
By amending
Montgomery County Code
Chapter 30C, Motor Vehicle Towing and Immobilization on Private Property
Sections 30C-I, 30C-2, 30C-3, 30C-4, 30C-5, 30C-6, 30C-7, 30C-8, 30C-9, 30C-IO, and
30C-ll
Boldface
Underlining
[Single boldface brackets]
Double underlining
[[Double boldface brackets]]
* * *
Heading or defined term.
Added to existing law by original bill.
Deletedfrom existing law by original bill.
Added by amendment.
Deletedfrom existing law or the bill by amendment.
Existing law unaffected by bill.
The County Council for Montgomery County, Maryland approves thefollowing Act:
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BILL
No.
17-15
1
Sec. I. Sections 30C-I, 30C-2, 30C-3, 30C-4, 30C-5, 30C-6, 30C-7, 30C-8,
30C-9, 30C-IO, and 30C-II are amended as follows:
3OC-I. [[Definitions; scope]] Scone; purpose.
(a)
2
3
4
5
[[Definitions.
otherwise;
(1 )
As used in this Chapter, unless the context indicates
6
7
Office
means the Office of Consumer Protection.
(2)
Immobilize
means to use any method, object, or device, including
a clamp or lock, to prevent or inhibit the movement of a motor
vehicle.
8
9
10
11
(3)
Owner
includes any person in lawful possession or control of a
property or a motor vehicle. The "owner" of general common
elements of a condominium is the council of unit owners, or the
council's agent for parking management. The "owner" of limited
common elements of a condominium is the unit owner or owners
who have the exclusive right to use the common elements, or the
agent of that unit owner or owners.
12
13
14
15
16
17
(4)
Redemption area
means any area or building where a vehicle
owner may pay any charges necessary to redeem a vehicle.
18
19
(5)
Storage site
means any land or building used by a towing service
to store towed vehicles.
20
21
(6)
Towing
means the removal, or preparation to remove, any motor
vehicle by another motor vehicle for compensation.
22
23
24
25
(7)
Trespass towing service or towing service
means any person who
tows any motor vehicle from private property for compensation
without the consent ofthe vehicle owner
26
(8)
Tow truck
includes any motor vehicle used to tow, or attempt to
tow, a motor vehicle from private property.
f:\law\bills\1S17 towing\bill3.doc
27
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BILL
No.
17~15
28
29
(9)
Unauthorized vehicle
means any motor vehicle which a property
owner has not consented to have parked on the property.
30
31
32
33
34
(b)]]
Scope.
{l)
This Chapter applies to the towing of a motor vehicle from
private property, or the immobilization of a motor vehicle on
private property, without the consent ofthe vehicle owner.
(2)
This Chapter does not apply to:
[a.] (A)
[b.].Qll
[[Towing]] towing initiated by the vehicle owner;
[[Towing]] towing approved or requested by a
35
36
37
38
police officer, ftreftghter, or rescue squad member in the
course of [[duty]] a criminal investigation or under [[the
state]] State law [[on]] regulating abandoned vehicles; or
[c.](Q
[[Towing]]
towing a
[[motor]] vehicle while
39
40
41
42
repossessing it.
CD)
towing from the yard or driveway of a single-family
dwelling; or
43
44
45
46
!EJ
towing from land immediately adjoining an electric or
telephone utility building or structure thi:lt is not open to
the general public.
47
48
(3)
[[Sections 30C-4 and 30C-6 do]] Section 30C-S does not apply
to[[:
[a.] (A)
Towing]] towing from designated handicapped·
49
50
51
52
parking spaces[[;
[b.].Qll
Towing from the yard or driveway of a one-family
dwelling; or
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BILL
No.
17-15
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
[c.](g
Towing from land immediately adjoining an electric
or telephone utility building or structure that is not open to
the general public]].
[[(c)]]£hl
Purpose.
The purpose of this Chapter is to protect the health,
safety. and welfare of County residents and to regulate and authorize the
County Executive to set maximum rates for the towing of vehicles from
private property without the consent of the vehicle owner. This Chapter
does not authorize the immobilization, towing or holding of any vehicle.
To the extent that legal authority to immobilize, tow or hold a vehicle
without the consent of its owner exists, that authority must
be
derived
from other statutes or the common law. [This] [[The purpose of this]]
This Chapter
[[i§
to protect public safety
.!2y
restricting]] [restricts]
restricts the exercise of any such legal authority.
30C-2.
Definitions.
In this Chapter:
Commercial property
means real estate approved and designed for retail
69
70
71
or wholesale trade. hotel. restaurant
offic~~,
clinics. warehouses. light
manufacturing. and other such uses but not for residential pumoses.
GVWR
means gross vehicle weight rating for the vehicle.
Immobilize
means to use any method. object or devise. including a
72
73
clamp or lock. to prevent or inhibit the movement of a vehicle.
74
75
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Office
means the Office of Consumer Protection.
Property manager
means any person who manages real property on
behalf of the owner.
Property owner
means the person in whose name the propertv is titled.
78
The owner of general common elements of a condominium is the
Council of unit owners or the Council's agent for parking management.
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The owner of limited common elements of a condominium is the unit
owner or owners who have the exclusive right to use the common
elements. or the agent ofthat unit owner or owners.
Redemption area
means an area or building where a vehicle owner may
pay any charges necessary to redeem a vehicle.
Residentialpropertv
means real estate containing either a single family
or multifamily structure that is available for occupation for non-business
purposes.
Storage site
means any land or building used by a towing service to
store towed vehicles.
Tow or towing
means use of a tow truck to remove a vehicle from
private property for compensation without the consent of the vehicle
owner.
Tow truck
includes any vehicle which may tow or attempt to tow a
vehicle from private property.
Trespass towing companv
or
towing company
means any person who
tows any vehicle from private property for compensation without the
consent ofthe vehicle owner.
Unauthorized vehicle
means any vehicle which a property owner has
not consented to have parked on the property owner's property.
Vehicle
means a
devic~
that is able to transport persons or property on a
public highway and is required to be registered pursuant to Title 13 of
the Transportation Article ofthe Anrlotated Code of Maryland.
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[[30C-2]] 30C-3. Maximum rates.
(a)
When [[charging for]] towing a motor vehicle from private property
without the consent of the owner, a towing [[service]] company must
[not] not
charge[[~
o
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ill
ill
~
~
flat rate established
lIT
the Executive under this Section; or
rate that is not]] more than a maximum rate [which the county
executive must establish by regulation under method (2)]
[[established
lIT
the Executive under this Section]] which the
111
County Executive must establish by regulation under method (2).
[The executive must review the rates at least every two (2) years.]
The Executive must review the rates at least every two (2) years.
(b)
The [executive] Executive must set
[[Qy
method
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117
ill
regulation, and
review at least every two years, either]] fair and reasonable [[nat rates
or]] maximum rates for each of the following acts:
(1)
towing, which includes [[Attaching]] attaching the vehicle
to
be
towed
to
the tow truck. towing the vehicle to a storage site, and
the first 24 hours of storage;
(2)
[[Towing the vehicle to a storage site. This rate must be based on
the distance the vehicle is towed;
(3)]] [[Storing]] storing the vehicle until it is redeemed; and
[[(4)]]01
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[[Any]] any other service needed to safely remove a
vehicle.
(c)
The fee for releasing a vehicle under section 30C-7 must not exceed
[[one-half the attachment fee set under subsection (b)(1)]] $25.
(d)
A towing company may charge
a
vehicle owner a fee for providing
notice under section 30C-6(e) only ifthe vehicle has not been reclaimed
within 48 hours after the towing or removal of the vehicle: the fee must
not exceed the actual cost ofproviding that notice.
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131
UtJ
A towing [[service]] company must not charge for any act not listed in
this section unless that act was expressly requested by the vehicle
owner.
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[[30C-3]] 30C-4. Administration; rates.
(
a)
Each tow truck operated by a trespass towing company must be
identified, registered, and insured as required under State law. except
that any required lettering must be placed on, both sides
of
the truck.
Each driver employed by a trespass towing service must be at least 18
years of age and must have a valid license to operate a tow truck.
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(b)
Every trespass towing [[service]] company must [[file]] register with the
Office and must file a schedule of its rates for each action connected
with the towing or storage of unauthorized vehicles. The Office may
disapprove a rate that[E
ill
(c)
is different from
£!
flat rate set under Section 30C-2; or
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ill]]
exceeds [the]
£!
maximum rate set under Section 30C-2.
A trespass towing [[service]] company must not charge a rate that is
higher than the rate on file with the Office for any action in connection
with the towing or storage of any unauthorized vehicle.
(d)
Each trespass towing [[service]] company must furnish the Office proof
that it carries the insurance required under Section 31A-lS(b). Each
trespass towing [[service)) company must inform the Office of the type
of business organization or ownership in which the [[service]] company
operates and the names and current addresses of all owners or, if the
[[service]] company is a corporation, of the officers of the corporation
and the name and address of a person auth()rized to accept service of
process.
(
e)
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157
A property owner must not order the towing of an unauthorized vehicle
unless the property owner has entered into a written contract that
authorizes a towing [[service]] company to tow vehicles from the
owner's property.
This provision does not apply if the towing
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(j)
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[[service]] company is the record owner of the property from which a
[[motor]] vehicle is towed. .The property owner and the towing
company must keep on file each contract that is in effect, or that was
tel1llinated within the previous 12 months. The Office, the Police
Department, and the owner of any vehicle towed by the [[service]]
company may inspect and copy any contract during nOl1llal business
hours. The Office may issue model contracts that meet the requirements
of this Chapter.
Any new written contract must include:
ill
a statement that the property owner is responsible for posting
proper and sufficient signage to notify the public of parking
restrictions:
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179
£2J
a statement that the property owner is responsible for expressly
authorizing the towing of a particulw vehicle. except as allowed
under 30C-4(c)(10). and that the existence of this contract does
not constitute express authorization:
Q)
a statement that a property owner is liable for a violation of any
duty imposed on the property owner by Chapter 30C, and the
damages payable are three times the amount of
anY
towing.
release or storage fees charged; and
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ill
a statement that any violation of any duty imposed on the
property owner by Chapter 30C subjects the property owner to a
l2Qtential fille of $500.00.
(f)
[[The Office may issue subpoenas to compel the production of
documents. papers. books. records. and other evidence in any matter to
which this Chapter applies.]] Any property owner wishing to engage
in
the non-consensual towing of vehicles from their property must first
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register each commercial parking lot with the Office of Consumer
Protection using
an
electronic registration program. The property owner
must provide:
ill
!2l
ill
(±l
the name and contact information for the property owner;
the name and contact information of all individuals who may
authorize the towing of each vehicle:
a copy of the contract between the property owner and the towing
fIrm: and
a diagram of the dimensions of the parking lot including
a
mark
indicating the locations of each sign stating the parking
restrictions and disclosures required by County and State law.
{g}
[[Any violation ofthis chapter is a class A violation.]] A property owner
must update the information provided to the Office of Consumer
Protection within 24 hours of any changes to the information provided
under subsection
Ct).
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202
203
au
(a)
A property owner must provide quarterly reports regarding the number
of vehicles towed and the reason why each vehicle was towed.
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206
[[30C-4]] 30C-5. Public notice; tow procedures.
Requirement.
Before towing a motor
vehicl~
from private property
207
without the consent of the vehicle owner, the property owner and the
towing [[service]] company must comply with all applicable provisions
of this section.
208
209
210
(b)
Signs.
(1)
A property owner must post a sign, notifying the public of
parking restrictions, at least 24 hours before towing or ordering
the towing of an unauthorized vehicle.
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212
213
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(2)
[[Sufficient numbers of signs must
be
posted pennanently so that
at least one sign is clearly readable from each parking area and
each vehicle
entrance
to
the
property
at
all times.]]
[Alternatively] [[Additionally, in a parking lot with more than
100 parking spaces, at least one sign must be posted in a
conspicuous place for each [75] 25 parking spaces, and each sign
must be readable from all affected spaces.]] The property owner
must post a sufficient number ofsigns so that:
!A1
!Ill
at least one sign is clearly readable from each parking area
and each vehicle entrance to the property at all times: or
in a parking lot with more than 45 parking spaces. at least
one sign must be posted in a conspicuous place for each 45
parking spaces and each sign can be read from all
spaces.
affe~
(3)
Each sign must:
[a.] (A)
be at least
24
inches high by 30 incheswide;
!Ill
[[Summarize]] summarize all parking restrictions on the
property enforced by towing unauthorized vehicles,
including time and area restrictions;
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[b.
][[(ID]](Q
[[Indicate]] state that
~
[[vehicles violating]]
vehicle parked in . . violation of the restrictions may be
towed at the vehicle owner's expense; [[and]]
[c.][[(g]]!J2)
state that County and State law require that
towed vehicles be available for redemption 24 hours per
day.
seven days per week:
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240
!f}
state the maximum amount that the owner of the vehicle
may be charged for the towing or removal of an
unauthorized vehicle:
241
242
(El
[[List]] list the name and telephone number of each towing
[[service]] company hired to tow unauthorized vehicles
from the property, [[or a telephone number that is
answered personally at all times of the day and night by
the property owner or an agent of the owner who is
informed of each vehicle towed from the property]] and
the location to which the vehicle will be towed:
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250
(Ql
be sized and made ofreflective material that can be seen in
low light. and located so that it is able to be read by
motorists in daylight at night: and
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252
253
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256
(5)
LUl
be maintained in a legible and unobstructed condition.
[[(4) Each sign must be sized, printed and located so that
it
is readable
by motorists in daylight and at night.
The property owner must maintain each SIgn
unobstructed condition.
(6)]](1)
An
owner
of
residential
property,
including
a
In
legible and
257
258
condominium, cooperative or homeowners' association, may also
have an unauthorized vehicle towed from that property [[without
posting the signs required by this subsection if1] by posting the
signs required in subsection (b)(2) only at the entrances to that
property and:
[a.](A)
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[[All
il
notice specifying a violation of an applicable
rule or covenant is securely attached to the vehicle in a
conspicuous place;
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[b.]@
[[The]] the date and time the notice was attached is
written on it;
[c.](Q
(i)
[[The]] the notice infonns the vehicle owner that:
the violation must be corrected or the vehicle may
be towed at the vehicle
o~er's
expense 48 hours
after the notice is attached; and
(ii)
an unauthorized vehicle that has received a notice
of the same violation under this Section on the same
property within the previous 180 days may be towed
without any further notice; and
[d.]ill)
[[The]] the vehicle is not towed until at least 48
hours after the notice is attached unless the unauthorized
vehicle received a notice of the same violation under this
Section on the same property within the previous 180 days.
[[(7)]]
ill
An owner of a commercial parking lot [[with more than
100 spaces]] may have an unauthorized vehicle towed from that
property [[without posting the signs required by this subsection
if]] by posting the signs reguired in subsection (b)(2) only at the
entrances to that property and:
285
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287
288
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290
[a.](A)
[[A]]
~
notice specifying a violation of an applicable
rule or covenant is securely attached to the vehicle in a
conspicuous place;
[b.]@
[[The]] the date and time the notice was attached is
written on it;
[c.](Q
[[The]] the notice infonns the vehicle owner that:
®
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(i)
the violation must be corrected or the vehicle may
be towed at the vehicle owner's expense 24 hours
after the notice is attached; and
(ii)
an unauthorized vehicle that has received a notice
of the same violation under this Section on the same
property within the previous 180 days may be towed
without any further notice; and
[d.1@
[[The]] the vehicle is not towed until at least 24
hours after the notice is attached unless the unauthorized
vehicle received a notice of the same violation under this
Section on the same property within the previous 180 days.
(c)
Tow procedures.
(1)
Except as provided in subsection (c)(10), a [[property owner]]
towing company must not tow a motor vehicle from [[the
owner's]] private property unless the property owner has, directly
or through an agent, expressly authorized the towing of the
particular vehicle.
(2)
[[The authorization to tow may take the form of a tow slip.]] The
propertY owner must authorize the towing of a vehicle in writing
via tow authorization form in person, or via fax. emaiL or other
electronic means approved by the Director of the Office of
Consumer Protection.
311
312
313
(3)
(4)
The Office may issue a model tow [[slip]] authorization form.
[[If a tow slip is used, the property owner or the owner's agent
must sign the slip immediately before the vehicle is towed. A
legible copy of the slip must be securely attached to the vehicle.
314
315
316
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(5)]] Any property owner or any person acting as an agent of a
property owner, must not:
[a.](A)
[[Falsely]] falsely state that a property owner
authorized the towing of a particular vehicle; or
[b.]®
[[Record]] record any false information about the
towing of a particular vehicle[[; or
[c.](Q
Sign a tow slip before all of the information relating
to the towing of a particular vehicle is recorded on the
slip]].
[[(6)]]ill
A towing [[service]] company must not charge a vehicle
owner any fee for the services of another agent of the property
owner.
[[(7)
In
this subsection, "owner" means the person in whose name title
to the property is registered. The "owner" of general common
elements of a condominium is the council of unit owners. The
"owner" of limited common elements of a condominium is the
unit owner or owners who have the exclusive right to use the
common elements. "Property manager" means a person who
generally manages the property on behalf ofthe owner.
(8)]](Ql
A person must not act as a property owner's agent for the
336
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340
341
purpose of ordering the towing of an unauthorized vehicle, unless
the owner or property manager has expressly authorized in
writing the person to so act.
[[(9)]]ffi
An agent of a property owner, for the purpose of ordering
the towing of an unauthorized vehicle, must not:
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[a.](A)
[[Be]] be employed by, or have any member of his
or her immediate family employed by, any towing
[[service]]
[b.]ffi)
company~
or
[[Have]] have any fmancial interest in any towing
[[service]] company or the towing of any motor vehicle.
This provision does not apply if the towing [[service]] company is the
record owner ofproperty from which a motor vehicle is towed.
[[(1O)]]ill
An
unauthorized vehicle may be towed from private
property without the express authorization of the property owner
or the owner's agent only[;
a.
Between 2:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.; or
If]~
b.
CA)
Between 2:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.: or
if the vehicle is [[directly]] blocking a clearly marked fIre
lane or access to another vehicle. the property or a building
on the property.
(W
Ql)
Before towing an unauthorized vehicle from private property
[[~ ~
person]] under this Section. the towing service must obtain
photographic evidence of the violation or event that precipitated
the towing of the vehicle. The photograph must be available for
inspection by any interested party for at least one year. and a
copy of the photograph must be provided to the vehicle owner
along with the receipt required under Section 30C-9.
(d)
(l)
A
property owner may move a vehicle within a parking lot
without prior notice to the vehicle owner, but must not remove
the vehicle from the lot, when moving the vehicle is necessary
to:
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[a.]@
[[Remove]] remove large quantities of snow or
debris;
[b.]ill)
[c.]!Q
[[Repair]] repair the parking lot; or
[[Respond]] respond to a threat to a person's safety
or health.
(2)
In moving a vehicle within a parking lot, a property owner must:
[a.](A)
[[Take]] take reasonable care not to damage the
vehicle;
[b.]ill)
[c.]!Q
[[pay]]
~
any cost of moving the vehicle; and
[[Inform]] inform the vehicle owner where the
vehicle was relocated or return the vehicle to its original
location as soon as possible.
ill
A vehicle must not be towed from private property solely for a violation
of failure to display a valid current registration under Section 13-411 of
the Transportation Article of the Annotated Code of Marvland until 72
hours after a notice of violation is placed on the vehicle.
ill
A property owner or towing [[service]] company must not employ or
use the services of an individual commonly referred to as
~
"spotter,"
whose primary task is to report the presence of unauthorized parked
vehicles for the purpose of towing or removal. For the purposes of this
subsection, "primary task" means an individual's job function that
accounts for more than 50% of the individual's compensation or hours
worked.
[[30C-5]] 30C-6. Notice [[to police]].
(a)
[[If a]] A towing [[service]] company that tows an unauthorized vehicle
from private property[[, the property owner or the owner's agent]] must
notify the County or municipal Police Department with jurisdiction over
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the site of the tow before the towing [[service]] company leaves the
property. The [[owner or agent]] towing company must tell the Police
Department:
(1)
[[The]] the name ofthe towing [[service]] company;
(2)
[[The]] the make, model, color, year [[(if known)]] , vehicle
identification number and registration plate number of the towed
vehicle;
(3)
(4)
(5)
(b)
[[The]]
address the vehicle was towed from;
[[The]] the time the vehicle was towed; and
[[The]] the storage site where the vehicle will be stored.
The [[property owner or the owner's agent]) towing company must
promptly notify the police department if the towing [[service]] company
moves the vehicle to another storage site.
(c)
The property owner [[or]] [the owner's agent] [[property manager]] and
the towing company must retain each tow [[slip]] authorization form
[[and, for those vehicles towed without a tow slip, a record of the
information furnished to the police,]] for one year after the tow. [[For
each vehicle towed without a tow slip, the property owner or [agent]
property manager must record and retain the name of the owner of the
property and, if the tow was authorized by an agent, the name of the
agent.]] The Police Department, the Office, and the owner of any
vehicle towed by the service may inspect and copy [[this information]]
tow authorization forms at any time during normal business hours.
412
413
414
415
416
417
418
419
420
421
(d)
The [[property owner or the owner's agent]] towing company must
promptly notify the County Police Department by telephone of each
vehicle that has remained in a towing [[service's]] company's
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possession for 72 hours. The [[property owner or the owner's agent]]
towing company must tell the Police Department:
(1)
(2)
[[All]] all information required under subsection (a); and
[[The]] the vehicle identification number ofthe towed vehicle.
W
Within seven days after the towing or removal ofthe vehicle. the towing
company must notify the owner. any secured party. and the insurer of
record by certified mail. return receipt requested. and first class mail, of
the same information required to be given to the Police Department
under subsection Ca) ofthis Section.
ill
The towing Company must provide to the owner. any secured partv. and
the insurer of record the itemized actual costs of providing notice under
this Section.
[[30C-6]] 30C-7. Handicapped vehicle owners.
A property owner must not authorize a towing [[service]] company to tow a
vehicle with a valid handicapped registration plate or valid disabled person's
parking permit conspicuously displayed from private property without the
consent ofthe vehicle owner unless:
(a)
[[The]] the tow is expressly authorized by a police officer at the request
of the property owner; or
(b)
[[The]] the vehicle is blocking a clearly marked fire lane or access to
another vehicle, the property or a building on the property.
[[30C-7]]3QC-S. Incomplete tows.
(
a)
If a vehicle owner returns to an unauthorized vehicle at any time after
the vehicle is attached to the tow truck but before it is towed from
private property, the towing [[service]] company must release the
vehicle to the owner if the owner pays a release fee as provided in
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449
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461
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467
468
469
470
471
472
473
474
(
c)
Section [[30C-2(c)]] 30C-3(c). The towing service must not charge any
other fee for attaching or releasing the vehicle.
(b)
A towing [[service]] company must not charge for releasing an
unauthorized vehicle unless the service has physically attached the
vehicle to the tow truck and lifted the vehicle at least 6 inches off the
ground before the vehicle owner returns. If the towing [[service]]
company has begun to attach the vehicle to the tow truck but has not
completed the attachment or lifted the vehicle, the towing [[service]]
company must release the vehicle without charging the owner any fee.
A towing [[service]] company must not block an unauthorized vehicle
with a tow truck to obtain payment from the vehicle owner before
attaching the vehicle to the tow truck.
(d)
The towing [[service]] company must provide a receipt that includes a
reference to the County Code provisions setting the release fee and
meets all of the requirements [[of section 30C- 8(f)]] for receipts under
Section 30C-9(e), indicating the release fee paid and the date of the
incomplete tow.
[[(e) A police officer or investigator employed
!2y
the Office may order a
towing service
to
release a vehicle, or to stop attaching a vehicle, at any
time.]]
[[30C-8]] 30C-9. Redemption and storage procedures.
(a)
Storage a/towed vehicles.
A [[property owner must have an authorized
vehicle towed]] towing company must immediately deliver a towed
vehicle directly to a storage site that complies with the following
conditions:
(1)
A storage site must not be more than [[12]]
miles from the
origin of the tow. [[Each vehicle must be towed to the nearest
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BILL
No.
17-15
475
476
477
478
479
480
481
482
483
484
485
486
487
488
489
490
491
492
493
494
495
496
497
498
499
500
~
storage site available to the towing service.]] Every storage site
must be located in Montgomery County. unless the nearest
storage site is within one mile ofthe County line.
(2)
(3)
A storage site must be brightly lit at all times.
A towed vehicle must not be stored more than a reasonable
walking distance from a redemption area.
(4)
The towed vehicle and its contents must be kept secured at all
times.
(5)
The storage site must remain open and have personnel on-site for
redemption of vehicles at [[least 2 hours after the completion of
the last tow]] 24 hours per day. seven days a week.
The storage site must be identified by a sign at the entrance
indicating the name and telephone number ofthe tow service.
(b)
Payment andpromise to
pay.
(1)
Cash payment.
A trespass towing [[service]] company must
accept payment in cash, or by a traveler's check accompanied by
reasonable identification.
(2)
[[
Options.
[a.](A)
Each trespass towing service must accept as full
payment either a credit card slip or a personal check, at the
option of the towing service, validly signed by the vehicle
owner or the owner's agent for the amount of all valid
charges.
[b.]@
Each trespass towing service must notify the Office
on the rate schedule filed under Section 30C-3 whether it
opts to accept credit cards or personal checks or both. The
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BILL No. 17-15
501
502
503
504
505
506
507
508
509
510
511
towing service must notify the Office if it changes that
option.
[c.](Q
The option chosen by a trespass towing service must
be available
to
the owners of all vehicles towed by that
service without the consent of their owners.
(3)]] Credit card [[option]]
payment
[[[a.](A)]]
Each trespass towing [[service]] company must
accept the [[2]] two most widely used major credit cards.
The Office must defme, in regulations under method (2),
which major credit cards are the
[[2]]
two most widely
used.
[[[b.](ID
In
addition, if a trespass towing service accepts any
512
513
other credit card for any other purpose, it must accept that
credit card under this Chapter.
(4)
Personal check option.
A trespass towing service must, if it does
514
515
516
517
518
519
520
not accept the 2 most widely used credit cards under subsection
(c)(3), accept a personal check, with reasonable identification, if
the vehicle is registered in Maryland.
(5)
11m
Withholding payment.
If:
[a.](A)
[[The]] the vehicle owner withholds payment in a
521
522
523
524
525
credit card transaction with a towing service under this
Chapter; and
[b.](ID
[[A]]
~
court in any subsequent civil action finds
that the tow was valid and the amount charged was correct;
the vehicle owner must pay the towing [[service]]
company, in addition to the amount validly charged,
liquidated damages of [[2]] two times the amount validly
526
527
®
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BILL
No. 17-15
528
529
530
531
532
533
534
535
536
537
538
539
540
541
542
543
544
545
546
547
548
549
550
551
552
553
554
charged (but not more than $1,000.00) and all reasonable
costs of collection, including court costs and a reasonable
attorney's fee.
[[(6) Stopping payment.
If:
[a.](A)
The vehicle owner stops payment on a check written
to a towing service under this chapter;
[b.](ID
The towing service follows the procedures in state
law for collection of dishonored checks; and
[c.](g
A court in any subsequent civil action finds that the
tow was valid and the amount charged was correct; the
vehicle owner must pay the towing service, in addition to
the amount validly charged, liquidated damages of 2 times
the amount validly charged (but not more than $1,000.00)
and a collection fee of$25.00.))
[[(7)))ill
Applicability.
This subsection applies to payment of any
charge arising from the towing or storage of a vehicle without the
owner's consent, and to payment for an incomplete tow under
Section [[30C-7)) 30C-8.
[[(8)]]ill
Purpose.
This subsection and Section [[30C-7]] 30C-8 do
not create or imply a lien in favor of a towing [[service))
company when such a lien would not otherwise exist. This
subsection and Section [[30C-7)) 30C-8 do not give a towing
[[service)) company a right to retain possession of any vehicle it
would otherwise have to return to the vehicle owner.
(c)
Rates displayed.
Every trespass towing [[service)) company must
display prominently, at each redemption area, a copy of its current rates
and a statement that these rates do not exceed the rates filed with the
®
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BILL No. 17-15
555
556
557
558
559
560
561
562
563
564
565
566
567
568
569
570
571
572
573
574
575
576
577
578
579
580
581
Office. Every trespass towing [[service]] company must also display
prominently a sign, furnished at a reasonable fee by the Office, listing
the Office's telephone number and summarizing the vehicle owner's
rights under this Chapter.
(d)
Storage fee.
A trespass towing [[service]] company must not charge a
storage fee for any time before the vehicle actually reaches the storage
site [[or the service notifies the Police Department under Section 30C-S,
whichever is later]].
(e)
Receipt.
Upon receiving payment, a towing [[service]] company must
furnish the vehicle owner a receipt on a form approved by the Office.
The receipt must:
(1)
[[Record]] record the amount paid to redeem the vehicle, the
actions for which the vehicle owner paid, and the date and time of
the redemption;
(2)
[[Be]] be signed legibly by an agent of the towing [[service]]
company, and list the name, address and telephone number of the
towing [[service]] company;
(3)
identify the violation or event that precipitated the towing of the
vehicle;
ill
ill
include photographic evidence of the violation required under
subsection 30C-SCc)(11); and
[[Briefly]] briefly inform the vehicle owner that the Office can
explain the vehicle owner's rights and how to enforce them in
small claims court or another appropriate forum if the vehicle
owner believes that any provision of County law has been
violated, and that the owner may obtain a copy of the law from
the Office.
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BILL No. 17-15
582
583
584
585
586
587
588
589
590
591
592
593
594
595
596
597
598
599
(f)
Damage waiver.
A trespass towing [[service]] company must not
require a vehicle owner to sign any waiver of the owner's right to
receive compensation for damages to the vehicle.
£g)
Inspection and retrieval o(personal propertv.
A storage site that is in
the possession of a towed vehicle shall make the vehicle available.
without charge. to the owner. the owner's agent. a secured party. or
the insurer of record. under the supervision of the storage site, for:
ill
ill
inspection: or
retrieval from the vehicle of personal property that
attached to the vehicle.
IS
not
[[30C-9]] 30C-tO. Liability for damages.
(a)
Any trespass towing [[service]] company, and any private property
owner who authorizes, expressly or under a standing authorization, the
towing of a vehicle from private property, are liable for violation of any
duty imposed on the [[service]] company or owner by this Chapter with
regard to:
(l)
[[Any]] any towing of a vehicle that does not comply with this
[[chapter]] Chapter;
600
601
602
(2)
[[Any]] any towing of a vehicle in the mistaken belief that the
vehicle was not authorized to park in the place from which it was
towed; and
603
604
(3)
[[Any]]
damages to a towed vehicle incurred during the tow
or storage and caused by a lack of reasonable care by the towing
[[service]] company, the property owner or an agent of either.
(b)
A property owner is not liable for the towing of a vehicle if the property
owner did not expressly authorize the towing, [[expressly or under a
605
606
607
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BILL
No. 17-15
608
609
610
611
612
613
614
615
616
617
standing authorization]] and does not otherwise have a business
relationship with the towing company.
(c)
Except as provided in subsection
(b),
a]] A property owner and a towing
[[service]] company are jointly and severally liable for the violation of
any duty imposed by this Chapter on the towing [[service]] company,
with a right ofcontribution or indemnification.
[[(d)]]i£l
A vehicle owner must mitigate any damages recoverable under
this [[chapter]] Chapter.
[[(e)]](gJ
Damages payable under subsections (a)(l) and (a)(2) are [[3]]
three times the amount of any towing, release or storage fees charged.
[[30C-lO]] 30e-ll.
Rebates prohibited.
618
619
620
621
622
623
624
625
626
627
A towing [[service]] company must not payor offer to pay a property owner,
and a property owner must not accept payment, for authorizing the towing of a
vehicle from any private property.
30C-l2.
Enforcement. police power. subpoena authority.
~
The Office of Consumer Protection and the Montgomerv County Police
.12martment enforce this Chapter.
Lbl
A police officer or Office of Consumer Protection investigator may
order a towing company to release a vehicle. or to stop attaching a
vehicle. at any time to prevent a breach of the peace or if the
investigator or officer has reasonable cause to believe that the tow
would be or was unlawful.
628
629
630
i£l
The Office may issue subpoenas to compel the production of
documents. papers, books. records. and other evidence relevant to the
investigation of a complaint filed with the Office in any matter to which
this Chapter applies.
631
632
633
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BILL
No.
17-15
634
635
636
637
638
639
640
641
642
643
644
645
646
647
648
649
650
651
652
653
654
655
656
657
658
659
ill
If any person does not comply with any subpoena issued under tills
Chapter. the County may enforce the subpoena by appropriate legal
action.
!l}
Any court with iurisdiction may grant injunctive or other
appropriate relief to enforce a subpoena.
ill
(ill
A person must comply with any subpoena issued under tills
Chapter.
Any violation ofthis Chapter is a Class A violation.
[[30C-11]] 30C-13. Immobilization [restrictions] prohibited.
(a)
Applicability.
A person must not immobilize a motor vehicle owned by
another person [without complying with all requirements of this section]
on private property, without the consent ofthe vehicle owner.
(b)
[Signs.
The owner of the property on which a vehicle is immobilized
must permanently post a sufficient number of signs which meet all
requirements of Section 30C-4(b)(1)-(5) on the property at least 24
hours before a person immobilizes an unauthorized vehicle. The text of
tJ:1e sign must reflect that vehicles may be immobilized rather than, or in
addition to, being towed, and must specify the rate charged to release a
vehicle. The Department of Housing and Community Affairs may by
regulation prescribe the text, graphics, symbols, shape, size, color, or
other elements necessary for a sign to comply with this section.
(c)
Requirements.
A person must not immobilize an unauthorized vehicle
unless:
(1)
the owner of the property where the vehicle is located has
expressly authorized the person to immobilize unauthorized
vehicles on the property;
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BILL No. 17-15
660
661
662
663
664
665
666
667
668
669
670
671
672
673
674
675
676
677
678
679
680
681
682
683
684
685
686
(e)
(d)
(2)
the person, and any business that employs the person to
immobilize vehicles, has registered with the Department of
Housing and Community Affairs under Section
31A-2
as if
Chapter
31A
applies to that person and business;
(3)
the person has been adequately trained to apply an immobilizing
device;
(4)
signs meeting all requirements of subsection (b) have been
properly posted on the property;
(5)
the person attaches to the vehicle's front windshield a notice
prominently warning the operator not to move the vehicle;
(6)
(7)
the person takes reasonable care not to damage the vehicle; and
the owner of the property carries at least $25,000 in liability
insurance which will cover any damage to the vehicle.
Entrapment not allowed
A
person must not immobilize a motor vehicle
on private property if:
(1 )
the property is a parking garage or lot which is nonnaUy used for
paid public parking and operated by an attendant;
(2)
the vehicle entered the garage or lot between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.;
and
(3)
the garage or lot was unattended, and access to the garage or lot
was not physically blocked, when the vehicle entered.
Release of vehicle.
A
person who is authorized to release immobilized
vehicles must:
(1)
arrive as promptly as possible, but in any case within 30 minutes
after the owner or operator of an immobilized vehicle calls the
telephone number listed on the sign posted at the property and
requests the release ofthe vehicle;
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BILL
No.
17-15
687
688
689
690
691
692
693
694
695
696
697
698
699
700
701
702
703
704
705
706
707
708
709
710
711
(2)
(3)
immediately release the vehicle after a lawful release fee is paid;
not require the vehicle owner or operator to waive any right to
receive compensation for damages to the vehicle; and
(4)
give the operator ofthe vehicle a receipt which legibly shows:
(A)
(B)
(C)
the release fee paid,
the date, time, and location of the release, and
the name of the person who received the payment and any
business for which the person acted.
(f)
Maximum rate.
A person must not charge more to release an
unauthorized vehicle than a maximum rate set by the County Executive
by regulation under method (2). The Executive must set a maximum
rate which fairly compensates the property owner for the reasonable
cost of immobilization, but which does not exceed $50, and must review
the maximum rate at least every 2 years.
(g)
Payment and promise to
pay.
A person who is authorized to release
immobilized vehicles must accept payment:
(1)
in cash, or by a traveler's check accompanied by reasonable
identification;
(2)
by a personal check, accompanied by reasonable identification, if
the vehicle is registered in Maryland; or
(3)
by the 2 most widely used major credit cards, as defmed by the
Department of Housing and Community Affairs. In addition, if
the person, or the business which employs the person, accepts
any other credit card for any other purpose, the person must
accept that credit card for this purpose.
The remedies in Section 30C-8(b)(5)-(6) apply to any payment under
this section.
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712
713
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BILL
No.
17-15
714
715
716
717
718
719
720
721
722
723
724
725
726
727
728
729
730
731
732
733
734
735
(h)
No lien.
This section does not create or imply a lien in favor of any
person when such a lien would not otherwise exist. This section does
not give any person a right to retain possession of any vehicle it would
otherwise have to return to the vehicle owner.
(i)
Public property.
Only a properly authorized agent of a government
agency with jurisdiction over a public road or other public property may
immobilize a motor vehicle on that road or property.
G)
Enforcement; police power.
The Department of Housing and
Community Affairs and the Police Department enforce this section. A
police officer may order a person not to immobilize a vehicle, or to
release an immobilized vehicle without payment, at any time to prevent
a breach of the peace or if the officer has reasonable cause to believe
that the immobilization would be or was unlawful
(k)]
Civil remedy.
Any person whose vehicle has been unlawfully
immobilized, unlawfully held after being lawfully immobilized, or
damaged while immobilized, may recover from the owner of the
property or any other person responsible for immobilizing the vehicle,
in a civil action, the greater of:
(1)
(2)
all actual damages sustained; or
liquidated damages of$100.
This remedy does not replace or limit any other remedy available by
law.
Approved:
736
737
George Leventhal, President, County Council
Date
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LEGISLATIVE REQUEST REPORT
Bill 17-15
Motor Vehicle Towing and Immobilization on Private Property
-
Amendments
DESCRIPTION:
Bill
17-15 would amend the County's towing and vehicle
immobilization law to authorize the County Executive to set flat rates
for certain towing services; add certain notice and towing procedure
requirements; provide certain additional enforcement powers for the
Office of Conswner Protection; and prohibit the immobilization of
certain vehicles.
PROBLEM:
"Trespass towing," the towing of a motor vehicle from private
property for compensation without the consent of the vehicle owner,
is subject to certain predatory practices which lead to confrontations
that threaten public safety.
To protect public safety by strengthening the regulation of trespass
towing in the County.
Office ofConswner Protection
To be requested.
To be requested.
To be requested.
To be researched.
Josh Hamlin, 240-777-7892
To be researched.
GOALS AND
OBJECTIVES:
COORDINATION:
FISCAL IMPACT:
ECONOMIC
IMPACT:
EVALUATION:
EXPERIENCE
ELSEWHERE:
SOURCE OF
INFORMATION:
APPLICATION
WITIDN
MUNICIPALITIES:
PENALTIES:
Subject to Class "A" violation.
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I.
ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND
MEMORANDUM
May
5,2015
TO:
FROM:
George Leventhal, President, County Council
Jennifer A. Hughes! Director, Office
ofM~gen:e~udget
Joseph
F.
Beach, DIrector,
DeP~mance~.
PElS for Bill 17-15, Motor
Property - Amendments
SUBJECT:
Vehic~e~
and Immobilization on Private
Please find attached the fiscal and economic impact statements for the above­
referenced legislation.
JAH:fz
cc: Bonnie Kirkland, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer
Lisa Austin, Offices of the County Executive
Joy Nurmi, Special Assistant
to
the County Executive
Patrick Lacefield, Director, Public Information Office
JosephF. Beach, Director, Department ofFinance
Eric Friedman, Director, Office or Consumer Protection
David Platt, Department of Finance
Helen Vallone, Office of Management and Budget
Alex Espinosa, Office of Management and Budget
Naeem Mia, Office of Management and Budget
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Fiscal Impact Statement
Connell Bill 17-15 Motor Vehicle Towing and Immobilization on Private Property
1. Legislative Summary.
The purpose oftms legislation is to amend Chapter 30C, Motor Vehicle Towing and
Immobilization on Private Property with respect to: setting flat rates for certain towing
services, add certain notice and towing procedure requirements, provide certain
additional enforcement powers for the Office of Consumer Protection, and prohibit the
.
immobilization of certain vehicles.
the revenues or expenditures are assumed in the recommended or approved
budget. Includes source of information, assumptions, and methodologies used.
In
the event this bill results in an increase in the number of non-consensual towing
• complaints tiled with OCP and this increase results
in
the number of Civil citations filed
by OCP; a slight rise
in
County revenues might be expected. However, no such growth
in
the number of civil citations is expected.
3.
Revenue and expenditure estimates covering at least the next 6 fiscal years.
No expected change to response
in
#2 above.
4. An actuarial analysis through the entire amortization period for each bill that
would affect retiree pension or group insurance costs.
Not Applicable.
5. .An estimate of expenditures related to County's information .technology
(IT)
systems, including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.
Not applicable.
6. Later actions that.may affect future revenue and expenditures
if
the bill authorizes
future sp ending.
Not applicable.
7. An estimate of the staff time needed to implement the bill.
Two OCP investigators examine and handle non-consensuai towirig complaints. This
bill may result in a slight rise in the number of complaints filed with OCP. However, it
is anticipated that OCP staff would absorb any moderate increase in the number of
complaints.
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8.
An
explanation of how the addition of new staff responsibilities would affect other
duties.
Not applicable.
9.
An
estimate of costs when an additional appropriation
is
needed.
Not Applicable.
10. A description 9f any variable that could affect revenue and cost estimates.
Additional investigative and support staff may be needed to investigate and handled
complaints if there is a significant increase in the number of non-consensual towing
complaints flled with OCP.
11. Ranges' of revenue or expenditures that are uncertain or difficult to project.'
It
is difficult to predict with any certainty if there will be a significant increase in the
number of complaints filed with OCP. or the amount of time it would take to educate
property owners and towing firms regarding the amendments.
12.
If
a bill is likely to have no fiscal impact, why that is the case.
Not Applicable.
13. Other. fiscal impacts or comments.
The County Executive's Office will provide legislative suggestions to enhance
amendments to Chapter 30C in an effort to curb overly aggressive non-consensual towing
practices in Montgomery County.
14. The following contributed to and concurred with this analysis:
Eric Friedman, Director Office of Consumer Protection
Marsha Carter. Management and Budget Specialist III. Office of Consumer Protection
Edward Lattner, Chief, Office ofthe County Attorney
Helen P. Vallone, Senior Management and Budget Specialist, Office of Management
and Budget
\
Date
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Economic Impact Statement
Bill 17-15, Motor Vehicle Towing and Immobilization on Private Property­
Amendments
Background:
This legislation would:
• Authorize the County Executive to set flat rates for certain towing services,
• Add certain notice and towing procedure requirements,
• Provide certain additional enforcement powers for the Office of Consumer
Protection (OCP), and
• Prohibit the immobi1i:zation of certain vehicles.
Specifically. Bill 17-15 provides for the following: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
• adds public safety to the purpose ofthe law,
• establishes flat rates,
• gives subpoena authority to OCP under Chapter 30C of the County Code,
• requires more low signage to be posted on properties,
• requires that a tow be authorized at all times of the day,
• required photographic evidence ofviolation,
• prohibits the use of "spotters", and
• prohibits the immobilization or booting on private property .
. 1. The sources of information, assumptions, and methodologies used.
Source of information and data is the Office of Consumer Protection. The
assumption is that the flat rate would be similar to the overall average of the current
towing fees. There are no methodologies used in the preparation ofthe economic
impact statement. OCP provided data on the estimate of the economic impact.
2. A description of any variable that could affect the economic impact estimates.
Currently there are three sets of towing fees: hookup fee, mileage fee, and storage fee.
The most controversial fee is the per mileage fee. According to OCP, the overall
average ofthe sum of the three fees is $168.
Bil117-15
would eliminate the three-fee
structure and set a fixed rate. As such, OCP assumes that an average fixed rate could
be $168 which is the same as the overall average of the sums of the current three sets
of fees. Therefore, since the flat fee structure would replicate the overall average of
the current rates, there is no net economic impact.
However, on a
case~by-case
basis, ifthe fixed rate is set at a level that is less than the
current sum of the individual towing fees, a towing company would receive less
revenue than with a fixed rate. Ifthe fixed rate is set .at a level that is greater than the
current sum of the individual towing rates, a towing company would receive more
revenue than with a fixed rate. Overall, the result would be a zero sum effect for the
County's economy, that is, the revenue differentials from towing companies and
individuals would offset each other. Therefore, according to OCPthe impact from
Page 1 of2
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Economic Impact Statement
Bill
17-15,
Motor Vehicle Towing and Immobilization on Private Property­
Amendments
the fixed rate would
be
similar to the average ofthe current rates, and there would be
no overall "net" economic impact to the County.
3. The .BilI's positive or negative effect, if any on employment, spending, savings,
investment, incomes, and property values in the County.
Given the assumption that the flat rate would be the same as the overall average of the
current fees, there is no effect on employment, spending, savings, investment,
_ _ _ _ _ _---lincmnes, and property values in the County, However, since Bill
17-15
would
require more tow signage, the cost to the towing company would increase for
purchasing and installing the signs. Since, Finance assumes that each sign would
range between $10 and $20, the additional expenditure would be minimal and have
no significant impact on business spending.
.
4.
If
a Bill is likely to have no economic impact, why is that the case?
See #3 above.
S. The following contributed to or concurred with this analysis: David Platt and Rob
Hagedoom, Finance; Eric Friedman, Director, Office of Consumer Protection.
Date
Page 20f2