FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

We have answers

Contrary to what you may feel, living in a Homeowner Association that is governed by Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (usually known as CC&R’s) is a great advantage which ensures the quality of life of the entire association by encouraging compliance to these rules.

Most often, board members are accused of being heartless dictators on a power trip (or worse). You may be surprised to know that Board Members are also homeowners, just like you, who lives in your association. Contrary to what you may believe, Board Members are under legal obligation to enforce the association’s CC&Rs. Not only are they volunteering their time and family time but they are also in charge of the entire community’s maintenance and community life. While you may think he/she is up to no good, chances are he/she is quietly helping you by increasing the property value of his entire neighborhood.

PATROL MASTERS enforces the rules and regulations of your homeowners association, building management or property administration on their behalf. We do not replace or take jurisdiction away from the local police department. We never claim to do so. We rather enforce the rules and regulations that the homeowners association, building management or property owners and administrators ask us to enforce; rules and regulations over which the police department or city governments have no jurisdiction.

According to CVC section 22658. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), an “association,” as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 1351 of the Civil Code, of a common interest development, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 1351 of the Civil Code, may cause the removal of a vehicle parked on that property. For more info, please check the entire CVC section 22658.

Ignorance of laws, rules or regulations is no effective defense against it. Every homeowner is given a copy of the neighborhood CC&R’s and parking regulations upon Escrow. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to read these rules, understand them and abide by them. That being said, we understand how upsetting it can be to have your main means of transportation towed. Having a vehicle towed is not something that we do lightly and we take care to make sure that we do it properly and we document all pertinent evidence. Unless you can prove that it was towed wrongfully, we cannot refund your towing charges.

Unfortunately no. It is the homeowners responsibility to inform their guests of the parking rules and regulations, making sure they know when, where and how to park when they visit.

No. According to the California Vehicle Code Section 22658, the association is only required to have one fire lane parking sign per each entrance to the community only.

“22658. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), an “association,” as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 1351 of the Civil Code, of a common interest development, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 1351 of the Civil Code, may cause the removal of a vehicle parked on that property to the nearest public garage if all of the following requirements are satisfied:

(1) A sign not less than 17 by 22 inches in size with lettering not less than one inch in height appears at each entrance to the common interest development and contains both of the following:

(A) A statement that public parking is prohibited and all vehicles not authorized to park on the common interest development will be removed at the owner’s expense. (B) The telephone number of the local traffic law enforcement agency. The sign may also indicate that a citation may be issued for the violation.

Please contact your Homeowner Association management company.

To avoid this type of issue, although we are not required by law to take pictures of vehicles we tow, we do take them. We submit the report, the history of the infraction and all pertinent evidence of the tow to the authority that manages your property the same day it occurs. This report includes a picture of the car that was towed and documents the infraction. To get a copy of that information, please contact your property management company.

The statute of what constitutes parking and what constitutes storage depends on the Homeowners Association’s CC&R and may vary from case to case but having a vehicle parked in a common area for extended periods of time is not desired by any Homeowners Association. It is for this reason that most associations require that we monitor and track common parking areas for vehicles that appear to be immobile for a period of time. The citation you received is nothing but a courtesy notice alerting you to the fact that your vehicle is now being monitored. After a specified amount of time (which may be anything between 24 to 96 hours, according to your neighborhood’s CC&Rs) the patrol officer will check back on the vehicle. If still unmoved, the vehicle will be considered to be in storage and subject to be towed at the owner’s expense. If according to our monitoring system the vehicle has been moved during the monitoring period, the citation is no longer valid and by your ruling CC&Rs, your vehicle will not be towed.

The statute of what constitutes parking and what constitutes storage depends on the Homeowners Association’s CC&R and may vary from case to case but having a vehicle parked in a common area for extended periods of time is not desired by any Homeowners Association. It is for this reason that most associations require that we monitor and track common parking areas for vehicles that appear to be immobile for a period of time. The citation you received is nothing but a courtesy notice alerting you to the fact that your vehicle is now being monitored. After a specified amount of time (which may be anything between 24 to 96 hours, according to your neighborhood’s CC&Rs) the patrol officer will check back on the vehicle. If still unmoved, the vehicle will be considered to be in storage and subject to be towed at the owner’s expense. If according to our monitoring system the vehicle has been moved during the monitoring period, the citation is no longer valid and by your ruling CC&Rs, your vehicle will not be towed.

The statute of what constitutes parking and what constitutes storage depends on the Homeowners Association’s CC&R and may vary from case to case but having a vehicle parked in a common area for extended periods of time is not desired by any Homeowners Association. It is for this reason that most associations require that we monitor and track common parking areas for vehicles that appear to be immobile for a period of time. The citation you received is nothing but a courtesy notice alerting you to the fact that your vehicle is now being monitored. After a specified amount of time (which may be anything between 24 to 96 hours, according to your neighborhood’s CC&Rs) the patrol officer will check back on the vehicle. If still unmoved, the vehicle will be considered to be in storage and subject to be towed at the owner’s expense. If according to our monitoring system the vehicle has been moved during the monitoring period, the citation is no longer valid and by your ruling CC&Rs, your vehicle will not be towed.

The ticket or inventory window it is the look-back period of time for determining repeat citation or towing status and is based on previous citations. Most ticket windows are on a “continuing” mode, not calendar windows. For example, if your vehicle was first cited in March your CC&R specifies a ticket window of 180 days, then that citation is a valid and will count toward future actions against this vehicle until September.

We do not discriminate against anyone or play favorites. Our patrol officers do not know who is who or which car belongs to which person and strive to enforce all rules evenly, across the board, as specified by your ruling CC&R. If your vehicle was towed and your neighbor’s vehicle was not, it is probable that there are other circumstances to which you are not privy to. Some such factors might be that (but are not limited to) the vehicle being safe-listed, having a permit you are not aware of or – in case PATROL MASTERS is not deployed on a around-the-clock basis - the vehicle was parked after the patrol officer left the property. Unfortunately, while you can obtain the reasons and circumstances why your vehicle was ticketed from your property management authority, for privacy issues, we cannot release information such as why one vehicle was ticketed and another was not.

While this may feel like the most logical, courteous and effective measure, this system does not work for several reasons. Past experience across the entire industry indicates that while undoubtedly good natured, it backfires and rather than increase parking compliance, it drastically decreases it. Some of the reasons why we do not simply knock on your door and notice you personally is that once this practice is adopted, the deterrent of a towing action is eliminated, which in turn leads to rampant parking violations. Also, since our recording actions take place during evenings, our well-meaning officers have been both physically and verbally attacked for attempting to warn the proprietors of the vehicle that we would tow their vehicle unless they complied. So, to avoid any confrontations, enforce established parking rules and get maximum results, we issue notices, tickets and we carry out towing actions but we do not knock on doors.

This feature is popular with office-buildings that offer parking spaces, somewhat popular in homeowner associations depending on the scarcity of parking spots and security concerns and nigh-inexistent in shopping centers and malls. It is usually issued in places where parking spaces are a premium and restricted. These types of permits are becoming popular among residential properties nowadays since it is a great tool to enforce parking discipline among residents and avoid parking abuses. In some cases a parking permit is associated with a specific parking space that is issued and reserved just for you. Failure to comply with the parking rules or properly display your permits will usually provoke either immediate fining and/or towing of your vehicle. In cases in which you are issued a specific parking space, failure to park within that same parking space (even if you were parked in the space right next to it) is an offense. Parking permits come in many forms, shapes and sizes but usually take the form of hang tags to be placed in the arm of your rear-view mirror or actual stickers which adhere to the inside of your windshield.

This depends largely upon the property management authority as they may either wish to keep control of permit issuance and ask PATROL MASTERS to simply enforce parking regulations or allow PATROL MASTERS to fully manage all aspects of parking on their behalf. If your homeowners association is in charge of issuing parking permits, you may wish to get in touch with them. If we are managing the process, please contact us.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

WHEN YOUR VEHICLE IS TOWED FROM PRIVATE PROPERTY

Laws about Towing Vehicles from Private Properties in California

HOW DO I KNOW MY CAR WAS TOWED?

CALL YOUR LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENT

The private property owner is required to notify the local law enforcement agency within 1 hour of authorizing a tow. CVC § 22658(f)

The towing company must notify the local law enforcement agency of the tow no later than 30 minutes after removing the vehicle, or 15 minutes after arriving at the storage facility, whichever is earlier. CVC § 22658(m)

HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW NOT TO PARK THERE?

Before a car can be towed from private property, the property owner must post a visible sign (at least 17"x22" with 1" letters) saying that parking is prohibited and that vehicles will be towed at the owner's expense. CVC § 22658(a)(1)

No sign is required to tow from private property if:
  • the vehicle was issued a notice of the parking violation at least 4 days (96 hours) before the tow; OR
  • the vehicle is missing major parts, and the property owner notified local law enforcement of the parking violation at least 24 hours before, OR
  • the property is a single family dwelling.

BUT I WAS PARKED IN A PUBLIC PARKING LOT!

YOU MAY BE TOWED FROM PRIVATE PROPERTY IF you are parked in a private parking lot that is open to the public without a fee (like a supermarket or mall) if you are parked in violation of parking restrictions

that are posted on the property. However, you cannot be towed from a private lot that is free to the public until you have been illegally parked for at least one hour UNLESS you are parked in a disabled space, within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, or in a fire lane or blocking the entrance to or exit from the property. CVC § 22953

YOU CAN BE TOWED IMMEDIATELY if you are parked in the parking lot of a residential apartment complex or in a hotel parking lot if the space you are parked in is marked for a specific hotel room. CVC § 22953

I CAME BACK WHEN THEY WERE STILL HOOKING UP MY CAR AND THEY WOULDN’T LET IT GO!

CVC § 22658(g) and (h): If you return to your car after it is hooked up to a tow truck and before it leaves the property, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to have the vehicle released from the tow truck, but you must pay half the normal towing fee.

IMMEDIATELY AND UNCONDITIONALLY

Until the moment that the tow truck drives off the property. If your car was already hooked up when you arrived, the towing company has the right to charge you one half of normal towing charges for a released vehicle BUT they cannot require immediate payment as a condition of releasing the vehicle. You must immediately move the released vehicle to a legal parking spot.

WHO AUTHORIZED THEM TO TOW MY CAR?

CVC § 22658(l): You may only be towed from private property IF:

A PERSON WHO IS . . .

  • 1. the property owner or their employee, or their agent OR
  • 2. the commercial tenant or their employee, OR
  • 3. a tenant of an apartment building of fewer than 15 units that does not have an on-site manager [IF the tenant provides a written request to the property owner within 24 hours of the tow that the vehicle was parked in their assigned parking space AND IF the property owner provides a statement to the towing company within 48 hours of the tow that the tow is authorized.]

. . . IS ON THE PROPERTY AT THE TIME OF THE TOW TO VERIFY THE VIOLATION, AND

. . . THAT PERSON SIGNS A WRITTEN AUTHORIZATION FOR EACH VEHICLE REMOVED.

The written authorization must include

  • 1. make, model, VIN, license # of the vehicle;
  • 2. name, signature, job title, residential or business address and working telephone number of the person authorizing the tow;
  • 3. The reason for the tow;
  • 4. time when the vehicle was first observed parked on the property; and
  • 5. the time that the authorization to tow was given. MY CAR WAS TOWED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, AND NO ONE SIGNED TO AUTHORIZE IT.

THERE IS AN EXCEPTION TO THE REQUIREMENT THAT A PERSON SIGN TO AUTHORIZE THE TOW: A vehicle may be towed from private property even if no person is present to authorize the tow IF the property owner has signed a "GENERAL AUTHORIZATION" with the towing company-- BUT! Even with a GENERAL AUTHORIZATION a vehicle may only be removed if it is

  • 1. parked within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, OR
  • 2. parked in a fire lane, OR
  • 3. parked in a way to interfere with the entrance to and exit from the property.

If a tow operator relies on a GENERAL AUTHORIZATION to tow your car, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to get a free photocopy of a photo that clearly shows the violation at the time that you claim your vehicle, and a free copy of the General Authorization agreement with the property owner. The towing company is required to keep those records for three years. CVC §§ 22658(l)(1)(E), 22658(l)(3)

WHERE ARE THEY ALLOWED TO TAKE MY CAR?

The vehicle must be stored within 10 RADIUS miles of the property from which it was removed. A towing company can only take a car farther than 10 miles if they have written permission from a local law enforcement agency. CVC § 22658(n)(1)(A)

HOW CAN I GET MY CAR BACK?

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to be able to contact the towing company and arrange for release of your vehicle 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. CVC § 22658(n)(2)(A)

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to receive a copy of the written authorization for the tow signed by a representative of the property owner (with personal information blocked out), or the General Authorization if no person was present to sign when the car was towed and a copy of a photo clearly showing the violation at the time the vehicle is released. CVC §§ 22658(l)(1)(C), 22658(l)(2)

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to receive a separate notice from the towing company with the telephone number of the LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT that you can call if you believe that you have been wrongfully towed. CVC § 22658(l)(1)(C)(iii)

HOW MUCH CAN THEY CHARGE ME?

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to pay no more than the maximum legal towing and storage charges. Until July 2009 the maximum rate is:

  • $250 for the tow(standard size car and no special handling)
  • $80 for each day of storage
  • No more than half of the initial tow charge as “gate fee” if your reclaim your car between the hours of 5pm and 8am. CVC § 22658(n)

The towing company may only charge one day of storage fees during the first 24 hours that the vehicle is in storage. After 24 hours the charge is by calendar day. CVC § 22658(i)(2)

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to pay with cash or major credit card. (American Express, Discover, Visa or Mastercard) The towing company is required to have sufficient cash on hand to make change. CVC § 22658(k) and (m), Civil Code § 1747.02

ISN'T SOMEONE REQUIRED TO OFFICIALLY NOTIFY ME THAT MY CAR WAS TOWED?

CVC § 22658(B): the towing company is required to deliver a written notice of the tow to the registered owner, including grounds for removal, the mileage before the vehicle was towed, the time it was towed and the location of the vehicle. BUT if they cannot find the name and address of the registered owner in Department of Motor Vehicle records, the towing company must report the vehicle to the Department of Justice as a potentially stolen vehicle.

IN ORDER TO RECEIVE IMPORTANT OFFICIAL NOTICES ABOUT YOUR CAR, IT IS IMPORTANT TO KEEP YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS CURRENT WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES.

SEND THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES A "NOTICE OF RELEASE OF LIABILITY" WHEN YOU SELL YOUR CAR SO THAT YOU ARE NO LONGER ON RECORD AS THE REGISTERED OWNER.

WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR TOWING A VEHICLE IN VIOLATION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY TOWING LAWS?

  • A towing company who fails to notify LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT within 30 minutes of removing the vehicle may be liable for three times the towing and storage charges, CVC § 22658(m)(3), and a property owner who fails to notify the LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT within one hour of the tow is guilty of an infraction. CVC § 40000.1
  • An owner of a private parking lot that is open to the public without a fee who has a vehicle towed from the lot before it has been illegally parked for at least one hour may be liable to the vehicle owner for twice the towing and storage charges, CVC § 22953(e), and the towing company may be liable for four times the towing and storage charges if they fail to make an effort to determine that the property owner has complied with the one-hour requirement. CVC § 22658(l)(5)
  • A private property owner who has a car towed without posting tow-away signs, who fails to place a notice on the vehicle 96 hours before towing (or 24 hours if the vehicle is missing major parts), or who fails to state the reason for the tow when requested by the vehicle owner may be liable for twice the towing OR storage charges. CVC § 22658(e)(1)
  • A tenant of an apartment building of 15 units or less who wrongfully has a car towed without complying with all requirements of CVC § 22658(l) is guilty of an infraction, CVC § 22658(e)(2), and if all required procedures of CVC § 22658(l) are not followed, the towing company may also be liable for four times the towing and storage charges.
  • CVC §§ 22658(j), (k) and (l): A towing company may be liable to the vehicle owner for four times the towing and storage charges if they:
    • 1. tow a car from private property without obtaining a signed authorization from the property owner or their representative (unless it is blocking fire hydrant, fire lane or access to the property);
    • 2. overcharge for towing and/or storage;
    • 3. fail to accept valid credit cards;
    • 4. fail to give the vehicle owner a copy of the General Authorization contract with the property owner and a copy of a photo clearly showing the violation upon request; or
    • 5. fail provide a notice to the vehicle owner with an LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT telephone number to call if the owner believes the vehicle was illegally towed.

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