SF reduces towing fees for stolen vehicles of out-of-towners

SF reduces towing fees for stolen vehicles of out-of-towners

City residents recovering stolen cars from impound lots were given a reprieve in November when the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors voted to waive some towing fees.

But tourists who had their car stolen, and then impounded, had to pay the full $491, plus any other fees incurred. Now that will change, following a vote by the SFMTA board Tuesday to waive some towing fees for non-San Francisco residents too.

“We were able to extend the stolen fee waiver to everybody,” Sonali Bose, director of finance at SFMTA, told the board.

Not all fees will be waived. Base towing and impound fees will be reduced for visitors by about $22, according to the SFMTA. That will cost the program $1.2 million annually.

The reduction in fees was originally called for by Supervisor Scott Wiener, in a non-binding resolution.

“Victims of auto theft shouldn’t be victimized again by having to pay towing fees. I’m pleased MTA is extending the provisions I advocated for,” Wiener said in a statement.

In the same vote, the SFMTA board renewed the contract with AutoReturn for $65.4 million, for a five year term starting April 1.

In a staff report to the board, the SFMTA touted AutoReturn’s performance.

“To date, AutoReturn has performed their contractual obligations, under the current agreement, to the satisfaction of the SFMTA, including successful technological improvements and integrations with other Agency software,” SFMTA staff wrote. “These improvements have enabled the SFMTA to redirect enforcement labor to other transportation commitments, such as safety and other customer service activities.”

Throughout the course of the contract, SFMTA wrote that the numbers of tows “decreased significantly” from about 71,000 tows in 2005 to 42,000 in 2015.

SFMTA said the decline in tows was due to drivers’ increased compliance with the law, lower vehicle ownership and additional information to the public on towing times and locations.

The new fees go into effect in April. AutoReturnSFMTASupervisor Scott WienertowingTransit

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