Car Towing at Owner’s Expense?

Every time I travel to different country, I tried hard to understand how the society works. This time, I want to seek for some help to understand “car towing at owner’s expense” terms displayed in many private properties.

Look at these plates (which I took when I visited Cisco).

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

And here (in Creative Labs).

All these notice states that “Unauthorized Vehicles will be towed away at vehicle owner’s expense. This kind of plates are everywhere. So I am curious about it and did some research.

CVC 22658

On these plates, I found the magic number: California Vehicle Code 22658. What is that? Specifically, what is the 22658-a?

A simple search to this number yield the following result:

22658. (a) ( )1 The owner or person in lawful possession of private property, including an association of a common interest development as defined in Section 1351 of the Civil Code, may cause the removal of a vehicle parked on the property to a storage facility that meets the requirements of subdivision (n) under any of the following circumstances:

(1) There is displayed, in plain view at all entrances to the property, a sign not less than 17 inches by 22 inches in size, with lettering not less than one inch in height, prohibiting public parking and indicating that vehicles will be removed at the owner’s expense, and containing the telephone number of the local traffic law enforcement agency and the name and telephone number of each towing company that is a party to a written general towing authorization agreement with the owner or person in lawful possession of the property. The sign may also indicate that a citation may also be issued for the violation.

Another Example of Law and Law Enforcement

This is another interesting sign about law and enforcement (FYI, the other one was “The Right to Refuse Service to Anyone”).

Let me try to “guess” how it works, and please tell me if my assumption is not correct.

All properties in U.S has an owner. Either individual/family, or company, organizations, or government (all kinds of government).

All private properties are protected by law. The property owner (like the companies in this case) has the right on this land to remove any violating vehicle. There are also some commercial service, like Pro-star Towing in the first plate, who are willing to help property owners to enforce their right.

If it is allowed by a law (like CVC 22658), the tower company can directly tow the vehicle to a location that complies to the law (there are other terms in 22658), and the owner of the vehicle has to pay for that fee.

So the property owner is happy since they enjoy their rights (no one can park illegally there), and the towing company is happy (making money!). Only the owner of the car is unhappy – paying money, and take all the trouble to bring it back, so they will avoid it.

Is that correct?

Thought about China’s Law System

The reason I thought about this was about the parking in Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Parking is a problem there. It is chaos I would say. There are illegal parking everywhere, some were even creative enough to park it in the middle of a road or corner of a road, thus no other cars are able to leave.

The security guards worked very hard to prevent it from happening, but how can they possibly enforce that with such a big campus and just 10s of people?

So they put all kinds of stuff to the key locations on campus – signs, chairs, stones, ropes, flags – almost everything to pre-occupy those locations so it is hard for cars to park there. That makes the whole campus a mess. As you can imagine, that does not work. They put a chair at the road side, wishing drivers see the chair and park somewhere else, but cars just park side by side with the chair – making the road narrower.

Of cause, the most useless thing is a “No Parking” sign.

Police Enforcement, or Owner Enforcement

Police does not work so well. First, there is no law or even custom to say the land is owned by someone. In technical terms, no one in this country owns any land, so they don’t have any rights. Secondly, if you want to remove some vehecle, call a police. This may turn police into a big towing company (using tax payer’s money).

I think the California way works well even in China’s environment.

Your Thoughts or Experience?

I clearly understand as a visitor, there are still a lot for me to explorer. If you happen to be a lawyer and know more about it, would you please share more thoughts about it? I am also interested in knowing anyone had the experience to be towed, or has enforced such towing before.

Is there any side effect (or negative effect) of this law?

P.S. Toys for Happy Holiday

Let me share the toys Wendy and I liked a lot 2 years ago. We put them into hidden place to avoid Yifan. :-) Yifan has his own toys.

© Jian Shuo Wang

20 thoughts on “Car Towing at Owner’s Expense?

  1. @Jian Shuo… this practice of towing at the owner’s expense is very, very common in Australia. Not only does it apply to private property, but also to public roads where cars might be parked illegally and obstructing traffic flow.

    What happens, is the car is towed to an ‘impound’ lot, and not released back to the owner until such time the towing fee is paid in full (and in the case of being towed in public places, the owner would also be liable for a fine). The fees are astronomical.

    Another deviation of this process is called ‘wheel clamping’. If a car parks illegal on private property or car park where they do not have authority, the security have the ability to ‘wheel clamp’ the car – that is, put a device on one of the wheels (also known as a ‘wheel brace’) that makes it impossible to move the car. Then the owner needs to pay a very, very high fee before the wheel clamp will be removed and they can take their car. At least it’s not taken to an impound lot, but it’s still a very expensive exercise for the owner (driver) of the vehicle.

  2. @AussiePB, I found the most amazing thing was there are dedicated towing companies. For property owners to enforce the law may not be a good idea, just as the security guard in the Jiaotong university campus. To use one company to enforce it is much more efficient, and they enforce it more strictly.

  3. @wjs

    A towing company usually does not have the right to tow a vehicle from your land. But if you call such a towing company, they will be happy to help the landlord to remove the illegally parked vehicle, at a cost you pay (and to be paid the the vehicle’s owner).

  4. I’m not familar with this topic. But this reminds me of a newly public law in China, Property Right Law (I don’t know if I translated correctly) which has come to effective since 10/1 this year.

    I should say this Law is a progress to protect owner’s right. But we still have much gap with those developed countries. I think maybe we have not related law yet to avoid the phenomenon in Jiaotong University like JS said. So if no law, who will obey?

  5. @mobile, according to CVC 22658, the towing company will HAVE the right to tow provided that the property owner sign a contract to authorize them to do so on their behalf.

  6. Towing regulations should definitely be implemented in 上海. People that park on sidewalks deserve to have their cars impounded and charged a ¥1000+ fine, for destroying the public peace.

  7. @Ben, that is correct (although I think the charge is 200 RMB). However, my point was relying on a robust legal system and ask the parties of the societies, like the property owner or towing company to enforce it seems to be more effective to have a large police department.

  8. If you lived in New York City for a time, which has traffic conditions almost as congested as Shanghai, you would experience many draconian laws intentionally designed to discourage private vehicles from entering the city at peak hours or abusing the public right to access. I once parked my car at a no parking construction zone after 6PM, during the busiest holiday season in NYC, Christmas. At midnight, I returned to find my car towed. Since I lived in New Jersey at the time, I was now stuck. To return home,I’d be forced to pay a double meter fare (NY cabs charge double the meter rate to go to NJ). I stayed at a friend’s apt overnight. It cost me a whole day off work, and U$150 to get my car back: Illegal parking fee = $50. Towing fee = $75.00. Car storage in police pound = $25 (per day). This is just one of many rules which make it costly to have a car: For example, cars which create “gridlock” at intersections are fined $600 (gridlock results when a car enters the intersection and cannot get all the way through when the light turns red). Parking in an office building can be as high as $20.00 an hour, in an apartment, $600.00 a month.

    The theory that NY officials use to justify such laws can apply in China: Car owners are wealthier than other people and are the minority in the city. Public transportation benefits the majority and is critical to the smooth operation of one of the busiest cities in the world. Car owners thus should pay for their privileges. The system works quite well and keeps the number of private cars entering the city down to a minimum.

  9. I like the idea of taking gridlock seriously. Gridlock is one of the worst problems in Shanghai. For major intersections, especially one one of the four directions was jammed, it is very likely a gridlock will happen. The problem is, the car stopping at the green light (because of the jam ahead) is absolutely not acceptable for the cars behind it. It is common sense that cars should not enter the intersection when it is expected to block the road, but the common practice is, go there, jam the road first.

    There is no action fighting against it yet.

  10. I already went to small claims court i went before the judge and i filled out the papers wrong and the judge dismissed the case because i sued the wrong party i live in texas the judge told me to consult a lawyer because in a tow case you have a limited amount of time to file suit so since i filled out the papers wrong it has now been almost 30 days it happened on the 18 of sept. A tow company tow my car for know reason off private proerty. My manger told them not to tow from my unit but they did. I went the next morning to get my car and i returned home and told my manger. so she called the tow company and they agreed to returnto me a full the klast minute they back out. they also damaged my car. I went to small claims court but I fill out the papers wrong.,and i only had 14 days to sue who can i sue to get my money back and for my damages to my car. I think since i filled out the paper work wrong when i went to court my 14 days had ran out plaese help me.

  11. I already went to small claims court i went before the judge and i filled out the papers wrong and the judge dismissed the case because i sued the wrong party i live in texas the judge told me to consult a lawyer because in a tow case you have a limited amount of time to file suit so since i filled out the papers wrong it has now been almost 30 days it happened on the 18 of sept. A tow company tow my car for know reason off private proerty. My manger told them not to tow from my unit but they did. I went the next morning to get my car and i returned home and told my manger. so she called the tow company and they agreed to returnto me a full the klast minute they back out. they also damaged my car. I went to small claims court but I fill out the papers wrong.,and i only had 14 days to sue who can i sue to get my money back and for my damages to my car. I think since i filled out the paper work wrong when i went to court my 14 days had ran out plaese help texas

  12. I live in a housing complex and a friend of mines came over and parked in the parking lot at this time there was no signs to notify the public it is parking by permit only. she had no money so I paid the fee for her to get her car out of impound I am now suing in small claims court. I spoke with the manager(at the home office) who refused to refund me because the local manager wouldnt but he was going to before speaking with the local manager. I since then went out and taped the fact that they had no sign out there and within a few days he had one put up. The local manager also told the the manager at the home office that the sign was knocked over which is not true and I have proof on tape. What do are my chances in court if it matters I live in NY.

  13. 问候 or Greetings. Whatever you prefer.

    I am an American. Beyond that, I am actually a Native American.

    I do NOT agree with this law and I have issues with the law.

    I also have MANY issues with the Law in general.

    I think that if you have a business that is in a public area, where you cater to the public in general and the public has access TO your business, while your business uses tax programs to help your business grow, while you also PROFIT from using Government grants, loans and tax programs, then your business should have to follow the REAL, TRUE law of the land. The Constitution! You see, right now American businesses are exempt from having to obey the Constitution. They do NOT have to treat people fairly. They do NOT have to give people their Constitutional rights. Because of this, American Businesses contort the law in order to take ADVANTAGE of the general public, all while not being held liable for the abuses they put onto the general public. All while the general public is paying taxes, taxes that these companies use in order to keep the business profits high. This needs to change. It is an abuse. It is WRONG. If they use government programs at ALL, get Tax Status in ANYWAY, They should be made to follow our laws and grant EVERY person their Constitutional Rights.

    Now if you look at this problem, then you should get an idea of why towing is WRONG. I will put it like this, 90 or MORE% of ALL cars towed belong to POOR people. Not RICH. It is a WAR against POOR PEOPLE.

    While a person might “own” property, as in land, we have to remember that someone also owns THE CAR TOO. So somehow, magically the person loses property rights on his/her automobile because they parked wrong, or made a mistake?


    I will tell you some problems that may occur from these laws.

    Extensive loss of protein, plasma or bodily fluids from getting beaten, or shot.

    I will just say it from my perspective. If I EVER walk outside and see someone taking my car, They are getting shot. Period.

    You might want to think twice before taking someones vehicle because they “parked wrong”.

    You know, in most cases, putting a simple note on the car might prevent it from happening in the future. However, when you take someones car without permission, then for a business, word of mouth advertising will spread and people will not come to your store. On top of that, someone could also get killed, hurt, or disabled. All over a car parking wrong. You know, Do unto others how you want them to do under you.

    Anyways, I think these tow companies that do this, are committing grand theft auto. There is NO DIFFERENCE between them and a car thief. PERIOD.

    This action needs to be stopped. I will do what I can in order to stop it.

    Also, someone needs to come up with a better solution for parking problems.

    You cannot step all over a persons rights, just because you view it as the only way to fix parking disputes. You HAVE to come up with another way because this action alone will cause our entire country to fail. Once you start doing away with peoples rights to suit the owners of some property, the countries Constitution will be compromised and meaningless.

    I hope this helps by giving the other side of the story, or other point of view for you.


  14. @The Cyndicate – hmmm… interesting viewpoint. I’m a little lost though – wouldn’t the easiest solution be to just not break the law? If we are talking private property, what “rights” (as you put it) do you have to use my property without asking me, by parking your car there??

    Frankly, I don’t have much sympathy for people who get their car towed for parking illegally or without permission – especially if there are signs warning them – don’t want your car towed, don’t park there. Period!!

    And to say you would shoot someone for towing your car after you do park illegally – hmmm – I hope you will enjoy your prison life. :D

    Your statements actually don’t make any sense at all.

  15. Hi, I’m from NYC. I’m a homeowner and also a car owner and my home happens to have a garagebwhere I keep my car. Last night, I returned home and found a van parked in my driveway blocking my entry. Basically, this meant I had to either search around for a place to park on the street (where my car is likely to sustain some damage — I say this from many past experiences) or pay to park my car in someone else’s garage. Or, I can try to get the car towed. In order to do this in NYC, I have to first get a police officer to ticket the car. In my case, I called the city hotline last night and logged a complaint. About an hour later, the officer came, confirmed that the van wasn’t mine and that I wanted it ticketed, and then wrote a $110 ticket for the van. This morning it is now nearly 10am and the van has not been moved. So, I am searching online for a towing service that will do this for me. In my eyes, it makes perfect sense that the car owner needs to pay for the towing. Once we get a summons written for the car to establish that it is parked illegally (which can still be argued in court), then I can take the action required to regain access to my driveway and garage. It makes sense to me.

  16. AussiePB, No “Parking” incident is really against “The Law”. It is called a civil issue.

    Very few Parking situation break a major law. If you park in front of a fire-station, then yeah, your going to jail and losing your car. If you park in an ambulance entry at a hospital, prolly the same-thing.

    In America, technically, looking at laws and parking issues i.e. Parking meters, they themselves actually violate our rights. They are not legal, but noone has ever challenged them, so they stay. They are a source of illegal revenue for the city/state.

    To me, illegal is illegal. A drug dealer makes money by breaking laws, and so does the government, I see ZERO difference.

    In some ways the local governments are worse. They consort with friends they grew up with, who now own a tow truck company and give them a fat contract to tow off random cars that they consider are “Parked Wrong”.

    Now while I might be against towing, I have been to New York. I have lived ALL over this country and New York is its own animal. People there really just don’t care about being nice to people. They will park wrong on purpose. Hell, people will park illegally just to piss you off.

    But, I live how I want to be treated.

    After I posted my original message here, I had an “Illegal” Mexican park in MY Parking space for at least 4 days straight and never moved. Now I could have called a tow truck. I didn’t. I left a note on the truck in English and in Spanish letting them know it was my space and needed to be moved as I had no where to park. I parked a block away and walked home every day they were here, simply because Iw ould not want someone towing my car.

  17. Hi ‘The Cyndicate’ – I actually cannot even remember what I wrote on this post it must have been so long ago. I’m not familiar with American law, but certainly in Australia, parking offences are covered under legislation. They are covered under the ‘Australian Road Rules’, which is a document developed by the National Transport Commission in consultation with all Australian governments through their transport agencies and police, the Commonwealth office of Legislative Drafting and the Parliamentary Counsel’s Committee.

    Illegal parking can cause siginifcant danger on the roads (as well as inhibiting and affecting undeserving innocent companies)… I say that the authorities should enact the laws and throw the book at these people who show no concern for their fellow citizens – if they cannot honour the road rules and respect their fellow countrymen, then they should use public transport, cycle, or walk to their destination – in many countries, driving is a privelege.

  18. @ The Cyndicate

    Your deep concern for the rights of people who disrespect the rights of others is laughable.

    If people don’t like having their vehicle towed, then they should respect the property rights of others when parking.

    Where I live (Saskatchewan, Canada) I can only have people ticketed when they park on my property. And it pisses me off to no end. I personally have no problem at all respecting the property rights of others – and honestly I have no sympathy at all for those who are too stupid or inconsiderate to think before they park.


  19. My car was towed from my apartment parking lot by apartment management (Grandview Meadows Apartment in Longmont Colorado).

    I thought someone had stolen my car but it was not.

    When I called the police station and I found out what had happen.

    I called the office manager. She put the notice at each building door about three weeks before.

    Everyone had to have a parking permit sticker. If not, they

    would towed their car.

    When I read a notice it was a different notice and I read it several times I didn’t read it anymore.

    That was really serious thing. Why did they put the notice at just one entrance? (We have two entrance doors)

    When I leased the apartment I signed the parking permit as “N/A” and they have my license plate number.

    I think that was an abuse of authority and a violation of my contract.

    The same day the apartment management towed 17 cars.

    I paid $245 and I couldn’t go to work.

    Everybody, Attention!

    If you visit my apartment, you can’t park at entrants of the apartments.

    You park only on the street. They will tow your car. There is no notice!

  20. I don’t understand why China couldn’t just pass a law allowing universities to tow at owner’s expense lol

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