Chapter 5.15


5.15.010    Intent and Purpose.

5.15.020    Definitions.

5.15.030    Number of Official Towing Services.

5.15.040    Tow Truck Service Specifications.

5.15.050    Hearing.

5.15.060    Selection.

5.15.070    Selection of Official Police Tow Service Providers.

5.15.080    Service Agreements.

5.15.090    Business License Required.

5.15.095    Contract Services Fee.

5.15.100    Standards for Tow Truck Equipment.

5.15.110    Standard Rules of Operation.

5.15.130    Liability Insurance.

5.15.140    Grounds for Revocation.

5.15.150    Suspension.

*    Prior ordinance history: Ords. 1503, 1568, 1620, 1676, 1738, 1810, 82-17, 87-39, 93-4 and 97-13.

5.15.010 Intent and Purpose.

It is the intent of this chapter to prescribe the basic regulations for the operation of “official police towing services” in police emergency situations and for the removal of vehicles that are apparently abandoned, involved in an accident, or that constitute an obstruction to traffic because of mechanical failure. It is the purpose of the City Council in enacting the ordinance codified in this chapter to provide a fair and impartial means of distributing requests for towing services among qualified firms, and to ensure that such service is prompt and reasonably priced, and in the best interest of the public as well as the best interest of efficient police operations. (Ord. 2003-8 § 2 (part), 2003)

5.15.020 Definitions.

“Attendant” or “operator” means a trained and/or qualified individual responsible for the operation of a tow car or tow truck.

“Official police tow service” means a towing company selected by the City Council to be used by the Police Department, on call, on a weekly rotation basis, for any police emergency situation where a tow truck is required.

“Tow car” or “tow truck” means a motor vehicle which has been altered or designed and equipped for and exclusively used in the business of towing vehicles by means of a crane, tow bar, tow line, or dolly, or is otherwise exclusively used to render assistance to other vehicles. (Ord. 2023-22 § 239, 2023; Ord. 2013-11 §§ 13—15, 2013; Ord. 2003-8 § 2 (part), 2003)

5.15.030 Number of Official Towing Services.

There shall be two official police tow services selected and designated by the City Council to provide service at the request of the Police Department throughout the City of Newport Beach. The decision to select just two operators is based upon a finding that two towing services are sufficient to provide a high level of service to the public at the present time; that a limitation to two services contributes to the efficient administration of the program of providing towing services on an emergency basis; and that further fragmentation of the limited income derived from such services would tend to reduce the capabilities of the towing services to maintain adequate equipment and attendants, leading to a reduction in the level of services provided to the public. (Ord. 2003-8 § 2 (part), 2003)

5.15.040 Tow Truck Service Specifications.

The City Clerk shall be authorized to advertise for bids. Notice inviting bids shall be published in the official newspaper at least ten (10) days before the time for opening bids. Notice shall list the date, time and location for receiving sealed bids and the time at which the bids will be opened. Bids shall be submitted on forms obtained from the Finance Department. The bid proposal shall be consistent with the tow truck service specifications, contain information indicating compliance with Section 5.15.100, and provide a tow rate schedule for the following:

A.    Standard tow rate;

1.    Light duty towing,

2.    Medium duty towing,

3.    Heavy duty towing,

B.    Dolly;

C.    Go jacks;

D.    Remove and replace drive shaft;

E.    Roll-over and winching;

F.    Hourly rate for extended service;

G.    Open after hours for releasing of vehicles;

H.    Storage rates:

1.    Inside: cars and trucks,

2.    Outside: cars and trucks,

3.    Motorcycle,

I.    On-site release. (Ord. 2013-11 § 16, 2013; Ord. 2003-8 § 2 (part), 2003)

5.15.050 Hearing.

After the bid opening, the City Clerk shall set a hearing before the City Council giving notice of the time so set at least five days before the date of such hearing to all persons submitting bids. (Ord. 2003-8 § 2 (part), 2003)

5.15.060 Selection.

At the time set for the hearing, the City Council may examine the bidders and all relevant evidence, and award the contract to those found to be the most responsible bidders as discussed more fully in Section 5.15.070. The City Council reserves the right to reject all bids if it is believed to be in the public interest. (Ord. 2003-8 § 2 (part), 2003)

5.15.070 Selection of Official Police Tow Service Providers.

In selecting the City’s two official tow service providers, the City Council shall take into account the following considerations in addition to the requirements contained in Sections 5.15.100 and 5.15.110:

A.    Whether the applicant is qualified on the basis of his or her experience and record in the towing business and financial responsibility;

B.    The level and quality of service that would be made available to the public by the provider; such as, the accessibility and adequacy of the provider’s storage facilities, whether there is an attendant on duty as opposed to being on call to release vehicles on a twenty-four-hour basis, and the availability of extra pieces of equipment over the minimum required;

C.    The reasonableness of fees to be charged for service and the willingness to release a vehicle without charge if impounded or stored in the course of carrying out an official police investigation, upon direction of the Chief of Police;

D.    The physical condition of the operator’s equipment;

E.    Whether the facilities, personnel and equipment that the applicant proposes to use meet applicable municipal and state requirements of law. (Ord. 2003-8 § 2 (part), 2003)

5.15.080 Service Agreements.

Tow truck operators selected by the City Council to provide official police tow services shall enter into an agreement with the City that shall contain eligibility requirements, operating regulations, and a fee schedule as adopted by the City Council. Every official police tow service operator shall post in a conspicuous place in the interior of each tow truck an approved rate schedule in a form and location approved by the Chief of Police. The rate schedule will automatically be adjusted on its anniversary date based on the percentage change in the cost of doing business as measured by the change in the Consumer Price Index for the preceding twelve (12) months.

The City may require and revise the fee schedule by mutual agreement at any time upon a finding that a rate adjustment is justified.

The term of all official police tow truck service agreements shall be five years with an option to extend the term for one additional five-year period. Any official police tow truck operator whose service agreement with the City will expire or has expired may bid on subsequent notices inviting bids for official police tow truck services. (Ord. 2023-22 § 240, 2023; Ord. 2016-2 § 1, 2016: Ord. 2003-8 § 2 (part), 2003)

5.15.090 Business License Required

A.    An official police tow service operator is required to have a valid license to do business in the City of Newport Beach.

B.    No official police tow truck shall be operated on the streets, alleys, or any public way or place of Newport Beach unless the driver is holding a valid permit as required by law as an attendant or operator. (Ord. 2003-8 § 2 (part), 2003)

5.15.095 Contract Services Fee.

The City Council may establish by resolution a fee(s) for the award of an agreement under this chapter to reimburse the City for its actual and reasonable costs incurred in connection with official police tow services. Terms and provisions for payment of the fee shall be established by the City Council in the agreement set forth in Section 5.15.080. Official police tow service operators shall provide the City with an annual income statement of their official police tow services. (Ord. 2016-2 § 2, 2016: Ord. 2003-8 § 2 (part), 2003)

5.15.100 Standards for Tow Truck Equipment.

A.    Official police tow service operators must have at least twelve (12) tow trucks of one-ton capacity with rear-dual wheels. The Police Department employee on the scene shall determine if greater capacity is needed and may call upon any service capable of providing that capacity regardless of whether or not such company is within the City or whether it is their period of time to receive police requests.

B.    Company name. Company name, address and phone number shall be displayed on both sides of the tow truck in letters not less than two and one-half-inches (2 1/2") in height. The words “Official NBPD Tow Unit” may be displayed only during the time the contract is in force.

C.    Lights. All official police tow trucks must, at all times, be equipped with such headlights, taillights, red reflectors, stop lights, warning lights, etc., as required by California law, plus one white utility light (adjustable or portable); and may be equipped with such other lights as the owner may desire which are not forbidden by law.

D.    Winch. Winches may be electric, power takeoff, or hydraulic driven. Winches shall be of sufficient power or capacity for the rating of the wrecker unit and be equipped with safety dogs or equivalent braking devices.

E.    Official police tow service providers must also have at least one, three-axle tow truck to be equipped with a minimum twenty-five (25) ton capacity wrecker. Such truck must also be equipped with a minimum of three hundred (300) feet of not less than one-half inch (1/2") cable free from partial breaks or knots.

F.    Additional equipment. All official tow trucks must be equipped with red flares, lanterns or reflectors, hand tools, crow bar, rope, broom, shovel, dust pan, fire extinguisher (dry chemical type—minimum 10 B.C.), portable red taillight and stop light for towed vehicles, equipment for opening locked vehicles, and safety snubber chain. Each tow company shall have at least one set of dollies readily available at all times and at least one truck capable of responding to a call within enclosed parking structures with a clearance of not more than six feet four inches.

G.    Flat bed trucks shall be acceptable for police tow requests, provided that no flat bed tow truck rate shall be imposed unless the flat bed truck was specifically requested. (Ord. 2003-8 § 2 (part), 2003)

5.15.110 Standard Rules of Operation.

A.    All requests for towing service and the removal of traffic hazards shall be made through the Police Department.

B.    When it becomes evident that there will be a delay in responding to a request for towing service, the towing company concerned shall promptly advise the Police Department of this delay.

C.    An attendant capable of responding to police requests for tow service as well as responsible for the arranging the release of vehicles to the public shall be on call twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven days a week. Official police tow service operators shall also maintain regular business hours of eight (8) a.m. to six (6) p.m., Monday through Friday, during which time an attendant shall be present in person to respond to police requests and to assist the public in obtaining their vehicles. Vehicles stored twenty-four (24) hours or less shall be charged a maximum of one-day storage. Each day thereafter shall be calculated by calendar day.

Signs listing the phone number where persons can call to retrieve their vehicles must be posted in plain view at the front of the storage facility.

D.    Removing Hazards. After being dispatched by the Police Department to the scene, the tow truck operator shall cooperate with the police officers in removing hazards and illegally parked vehicles as requested. It is the duty of the police officers to determine when such vehicle should be impounded or moved, and the tow truck operator shall abide by their decisions.

E.    Each towing company shall comply with California Vehicle Code Division 12, Chapter 5, Article 8, Section 27900 et seq., regarding signs on tow trucks. Only tow trucks bearing the name of the company shall be dispatched to the scene of need without approval of Police Communications.

F.    Vehicles impounded by the police for special investigation, i.e., fingerprints, etc., shall be held under maximum security until cleared by investigating officers. Contents of vehicles subject to a “police hold” shall not be removed.

G.    The owners of towing companies participating in towing assignments by the Police Department shall be responsible for the acts of their employees while on duty. The towing company shall be responsible for all damages to vehicles while in its possession.

H.    All towing company records, equipment, and storage facilities shall be subject to periodic inspection by Police Department investigators.

I.    All vehicles stored or impounded as a result of a tow ordered by the Police Department shall be made available to the owner of the vehicle or his representative, any insurance agent, insurance adjuster, or any body shop or car dealer, for the purpose of estimating or appraising damages, except vehicles subject to a “police hold.”

J.    The official police towing service shall record the time in and the time out on every tow truck assignment. Such records shall be available and open for City examination. An electric time clock shall be maintained for this purpose.

K.    Upon request, official police towing services shall submit a report to the Chief of Police and the Finance Director, which may include any of the following:

1.    Total police impounds;

2.    Number of times dispatched by the Police Department;

3.    Number of these calls resulting in impounds;

4.    Number of vehicles sold on lien sale under authority of the California Civil Code, and reporting such lien sales as per authority of the California Vehicle Code;

5.    Number of vehicles sold under authority of California Civil Code Section 3073;

6.    Names and addresses of buyers and description of vehicles when sold;

7.    Number of calls answered which took more than one hour to handle.

L.    All tow trucks shall be radio-equipped.

M.    Storage lots shall be properly fenced (at least six-feet high) to maintain a maximum of security for stored and impounded vehicles. Such lots shall be accessible for vehicle storage and vehicle releases twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven days a week. Storage lots must provide a minimum of forty-four thousand (44,000) square feet of space dedicated for outside vehicle storage and a minimum of one thousand (1,000) square feet of inside storage for vehicles.

N.    Storage lots shall be located within the City or within three miles of the Newport Beach City limits.

O.    An official garage shall not proceed with any repair work on a vehicle or place any charges against a vehicle other than those required for removal from the street and storage unless authorized by the owner or his designated agent.

P.    When disposing of unclaimed vehicles, official police tow service operators shall abide by all California Civil Code sections pertaining thereto.

Q.    All vehicles stored or impounded as a result of a tow ordered by the Police Department shall be towed directly to an official storage lot unless the Police Department or other person legally in charge of the vehicle requests that it be taken to some other location. Vehicle release fees shall be as established by resolution of the City Council.

R.    A towing company may charge a lien sale fee and may begin lien sale proceedings as provided in the California Vehicle and Civil Codes. (Ord. 2023-22 § 241, 2023; Ord. 2013-11 §§ 17—19, 2013; Ord. 2003-8 § 2 (part), 2003)

5.15.130 Liability Insurance.

A.    Official police tow service providers shall obtain and maintain at all times, at their own cost and expense, proper and adequate insurance as required by the City’s Risk Manager.

B.    All insurance policies shall be submitted to the Risk Manager for approval prior to the provider’s designation as one of the City’s official police tow service providers. Satisfactory evidence that such insurance is at all times in force and effect shall be furnished to the Risk Manager and the Finance Director. (Ord. 2013-11 § 20, 2013; Ord. 2003-8 § 2 (part), 2003)

5.15.140 Grounds for Revocation.

The official police tow truck service agreement shall be subject to cancellation or revocation by the City Council either as a whole or as to any person or vehicle described therein. The contract holder shall be given five days’ notice to appear before the City Council to show cause why the contract should not be revoked or cancelled for any of the following reasons:

1.    Nonpayment of any City business license fees or other fees provided in the contract or by this Code;

2.    Breach of any rules, regulations, or conditions set forth in the contract or this Code;

3.    Violation of any of the laws of the State of California or of the City with respect to the operation of the business by the contract holder, or repeated violations by operators, attendants, or vehicles covered by the contract;

4.    Failure to maintain a satisfactory level of service to the police or public;

5.    Failure to keep any vehicle used for official police tow services in a safe condition and in good repair;

6.    Failure to use distinctive coloring, monogram, or insignia;

7.    For any deviation from the schedule of rates set forth in the contract;

8.    For any cause the City Council finds makes it contrary to the public interest, convenience, necessity, or general welfare for the contract to continue. (Ord. 2023-22 § 242, 2023; Ord. 2003-8 § 2 (part), 2003)

5.15.150 Suspension.

Any authority to operate as an official police tow service operator in the City granted under the provisions of this chapter may be suspended by the Chief of Police for a period of up to sixty (60) days for any violation of this chapter. (Ord. 2003-8 § 2 (part), 2003)