Hearing Examiner #: HE-13-VI-038
City Contact:Officer Leake
Hearing Date: 10/09/2013
Description: Vehicle Impound request of Levi Valentine of 2006 Jeep Liberty on 9/21/13
Decision Date: 10/16/2013
This matter came before the Bellingham Hearing Examiner for hearing on the 9th day of October 2013 on the request of Levi Valentine regarding the impound of his 2006 Jeep Liberty vehicle by the Bellingham Police Department on September 21, 2013.
Testimony was received from Levi Valentine, Requestor, who appeared telephonically.
In addition to the Bellingham Municipal Code, the following documents were considered as part of the record: Impounded Vehicle Hearing Request Form; BPD LongArm Case Report No. 13B-38848, Authorization to Tow/Impound and Inventory Record; Ten (10) color photographs taken by Officer Wong; CAD report; One (1) photograph of paper sign taken by Mr. Valentine; and ASAP Towing Invoice No.205422 for $320.67.
I. FINDINGS OF FACT / CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Levi Valentine parked his 2006 Jeep Liberty vehicle in the 1100 block of
Railroad Avenue in Bellingham late on the night of Friday, September 20, 2013. When he parked at that location he observed a paper sign indicating that the area was a No Parking
Tow Away Zone on September 22, 2013. He did not observe permanent signs posted in the area that are marked, "No Parking Saturdays 8AM
3PM Tow-Away Zone."
The Bellingham Farmers Market Association contacted the Bellingham Police Department on Saturday, September 21, 2013 shortly after 8:00 a.m. and requested that several vehicles parked in the 1100 block of Railroad Avenue be removed. The Police Department attempted to contact the registered owners of the vehicles but were unable to reach them. Officer Wong then authorized towing companies to remove the three vehicles that were parked in the tow-away zone. Mr. Valentine's vehicle was towed by ASAP Towing.
Mr. Valentine redeemed his vehicle from ASAP Towing on September 21, 2013, paying $181.00 for the tow, $23.00 for one-half day storage, $91.00 for after-hours release, and $25.67 tax, for a total of $320.67.
RCW 46.55 and BMC 11.18 and 11.33 provide that a police officer may authorize the removal of a vehicle, at the owner's expense, if it is parked in an area marked as a "tow-away" zone. The location where Mr. Valentine parked his vehicle was so marked. The permanent sign on the pole immediately in front of the parking space clearly indicated that parking was prohibited on Saturdays and that vehicles would be towed.
Mr. Valentine, unfortunately, only observed the temporary sign that had been posted at the location prohibiting parking and designating a temporary tow-away zone for a different time due to an event that was scheduled for that Sunday, so he was unaware that that location was a tow-away zone on Saturdays as well. However, the officer was authorized to have the vehicle removed and the impound was proper and in accordance with applicable statutes and ordinances.
Responsibility for the towing and storage charges in this case rests with the registered owner.
The impound of Mr. Valentine's Jeep Liberty vehicle was proper. Costs associated with the impound are the registered owner's responsibility.
ENTERED this 16th
day of October 2013.
Bellingham Hearing Examiner