Chapter 10.21
TOWING SERVICES

Sections:

10.21.005    Purpose.

10.21.010    Definitions.

10.21.020    Application for letter of appointment.

10.21.030    Application form for letter of appointment.

10.21.040    Processing of application.

10.21.050    Issuance of letter of appointment.

10.21.060    Registration of drivers.

10.21.070    Suspension or revocation of letter of appointment.

10.21.080    Letter does not grant vested right.

10.21.090    Appeal.

10.21.100    Towing procedure.

10.21.110    Vehicle towing operator qualifications.

10.21.120    Rates.

10.21.130    Penalties.

10.21.900    Bid process alternative provision for tow truck services.

10.21.005 Purpose.

This chapter governs the contracting for towing services by the city of Lynnwood for the purpose of towing abandoned, damaged or disabled vehicles or to otherwise impound vehicles as authorized by city ordinance, which are considered nonconsensual tows. This chapter doses not regulate the price, route or service of private consensual tows. (Ord. 2362 § 1, 2001)

10.21.010 Definitions.

A. “Highway” means the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained, when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.

B. “Person” means an individual, firm, partnership, corporation, company, association, or their lessees, trustees, or receivers.

C. “Place of business” means a building which the tow business occupies, either continuously or at regular times, where tow business books and records are kept and/or tow business is transacted.

D. “Towing operator” means every person who engages in the towing of vehicles and motor vehicles on a highway by means of equipment affixed to a specially constructed tow truck complying with the equipment specifications and standards promulgated by the commission on equipment, as defined in Chapter 46.37 RCW.

E. “Tow truck” means a specially constructed and equipped motor vehicle for towing vehicles and not otherwise used in transporting goods for compensation. (Ord. 1201, 1981)

10.21.020 Application for letter of appointment.

A. An application for a letter of appointment to provide towing services for the city of Lynnwood shall be filed by the applicant with the city clerk. In the case of a partnership, each partner shall apply on the form prescribed. In the case of a corporation, the city may require that each of the present, and any subsequent officers, managers and stockholders holding any of the total issued and outstanding stock of the applicant corporation, complete an application form. Each application for letter of appointment shall comply with the current business license ordinance before the letter of appointment will be issued.

B. The filing of an application for a letter of appointment to tow upon request of the police department does not in itself authorize the towing operator to provide towing services pursuant to these regulations until a letter of appointment has been issued and signed by the city clerk. The police department shall not call a towing business unless a permanent letter has been issued in connection with such business by the city of Lynnwood. However, nothing in this section shall prohibit the police department from calling the towing business upon the specific request of the person responsible for the vehicle, or his agent.

C. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as requiring a permit to engage in towing operations within the city of Lynnwood. (Ord. 3404 § 3 (Att. A), 2021; Ord. 2362 § 2, 2001; Ord. 2246 § 1, 1999; Ord. 1201, 1981)

10.21.030 Application form for letter of appointment.

A. The application for a letter of appointment shall be made on the form prescribed by the city clerk. Upon request, the city clerk shall advise the applicant of the contents of these regulations and of the standards established for the issuance of a letter of appointment.

B. The application form for such letter of appointment shall contain the following:

1. Name and residence address of the applicant;

2. Business name and address from which the business will be conducted;

3. Information pertaining to the applicant or employee of the business, pertaining to criminal and/or misdemeanor convictions, forfeitures, claims and/or judgments against them, within the past 10 years and, if affirmatively answered, further information as may be requested by the chief of police;

4. Location of any storage areas;

5. List of all vehicles to be used in connection with the business, including make, model, motor number, year, current vehicle license number and color scheme of each vehicle;

6. Names and addresses of all persons to be engaged as employees in the operation of the tow truck business, with description of the position of each employee;

7. Experience that the applicant and/or employees have had in the tow truck business;

8. Any other information the city clerk or chief of police deems reasonably necessary;

9. Evidence of compliance with applicable state requirements for tow truck operators and tow truck permits as set forth in Chapter 46.55 RCW as amended, and applicable regulations adopted pursuant thereto. (Ord. 3404 § 3 (Att. A), 2021; Ord. 2246 § 1, 1999; Ord. 1201, 1981)

10.21.040 Processing of application.

A. Every application for authorization to provide a towing service at the request of the police department will be processed by the city clerk.

B. If the city clerk finds that the requirements of this chapter have been satisfied by the applicant, and that the applicant is otherwise qualified, the city clerk shall issue an appropriate letter of appointment, and so notify the applicant.

If the city clerk finds that the applicant is not qualified and does not meet the requirements of this chapter, then the city clerk shall deny such application and shall so notify the applicant of the decision, stating the reasons therefor in writing, and granting an opportunity for hearing before the city council if requested. (Ord. 3404 § 3 (Att. A), 2021; Ord. 2246 § 1, 1999; Ord. 1201, 1981)

10.21.050 Issuance of letter of appointment.

A. No towing operator shall be called to perform a towing service at the request of the police department unless such operator has a letter of appointment, as described in this chapter, from the city.

B. Every letter of appointment shall be issued in the name of the applicant, and the holder thereof shall not allow any other person to use the letter of appointment. In the event of incapacity, death, receivership, bankruptcy or assignment for benefit of creditors of any appointee, the appointment shall be deemed revoked by operation of law.

C. A copy of the current letter of appointment shall be posted at all times in the place of business of the applicant.

D. The letter of appointment will only be valid for the place of business named on the application and will not apply to any other place of business.

E. Except as otherwise provided herein, a letter of appointment shall be valid for two years unless superseded or revoked by the city clerk.

F. Each separate place of business must have a letter of appointment.

G. Each letter of appointment shall be signed by the applicant agreeing to the requirements of this chapter. (Ord. 3404 § 3 (Att. A), 2021; Ord. 2246 § 1, 1999; Ord. 1573 § 1, 1987; Ord. 1201, 1981)

10.21.060 Registration of drivers.

Each applicant, at the time of application, and all operators, before employing any tow truck driver, shall submit the names and addresses of the drivers to the chief of police. All such drivers must be at least 21 years of age, must possess a valid Washington State driver’s license, and must not have been convicted of driving while under the influence of intoxicants or drugs, reckless driving, or having their driver’s license suspended in this or any other state within the last five years, or have been convicted of any felony within the last 10 years. (Ord. 2246 § 1, 1999; Ord. 1201, 1981)

10.21.070 Suspension or revocation of letter of appointment.

Upon receiving evidence that any appointee has failed to comply with, or no longer complies with any requirement or provision of these rules and regulations, the city clerk may deny, suspend, or revoke the letter of appointment. The city clerk may not suspend or revoke the letter of appointment unless the appointee has been given notice and an opportunity to be heard before the mayor, or his designated representative; provided, that a temporary suspension of up to seven days may occur pending a hearing, if the mayor determines that good cause exists.

The police department shall maintain files of complaints received from any person, and shall submit copies of the complaint(s) to the city clerk. (Ord. 3404 § 3 (Att. A), 2021; Ord. 2246 § 1, 1999; Ord. 1201, 1981)

10.21.080 Letter does not grant vested right.

The issuance of any letter of appointment by the city clerk shall not be construed as granting a vested right in any of the privileges so conferred. Misrepresentation of fact found to have been made by the applicant shall be sufficient cause for the denial, suspension or revocation of such letter of appointment by the mayor. (Ord. 3404 § 3 (Att. A), 2021; Ord. 2246 § 1, 1999; Ord. 1201, 1981)

10.21.090 Appeal.

Any person aggrieved by a decision of the city clerk denying, suspending or revoking a letter of appointment may, within 10 days of the date of such decision, appeal such decision to the city council, which shall conduct a hearing within 30 days of any appeal, or longer, for good cause shown by the person aggrieved. In determining an appeal, the city council shall hear and consider all pertinent evidence, and consider the criteria set forth in this chapter. (Ord. 3404 § 3 (Att. A), 2021; Ord. 2246 § 1, 1999; Ord. 1201, 1981)

10.21.100 Towing procedure.

Police officers of the city of Lynnwood police department shall obtain towing services to remove damaged or disabled vehicles from the highway, or otherwise impound vehicles as authorized by city ordinance, with the following limitations:

A. If the vehicle does not constitute an obstruction to traffic, and the owner/operator of the vehicle is present at the scene and appears competent to determine disposition of the vehicle, the owner/operator may, upon request, make his own arrangements for removal. This does not affect rotational positions.

B. If the vehicle is to be removed from the scene, the owner/operator of the vehicle may make a specific request for a particular tow operator. The request will be honored by the officer of the police department if the requested tow operator is reasonably available and the request is otherwise reasonable in view of the circumstances of the scene. This does not affect rotational positions.

C. When the owner/operator of the vehicle makes no specific request, or when the owner/operator is incapacitated or is unavailable, the officer of the police department shall, when practicable, obtain towing services by notifying the radio communications center and requesting tow service at the location.

D. The city clerk shall specify that tow services obtained by the police department will be on a rotational basis, among designated appointees; provided, that, anytime an appointee is called by the police department for services, but the appointee for whatever reason except those set forth in LMC 10.21.110(A) through (D) does not actually tow the vehicle away from the scene, neither the city nor the vehicle owner/operator shall pay any charges to the towing operator. Such “dry runs” do not affect rotational positions. (Ord. 3404 § 3 (Att. A), 2021; Ord. 2246 § 1, 1999; Ord. 1573 § 2, 1987; Ord. 1201, 1981)

10.21.110 Vehicle towing operator qualifications.

In addition to applicable state law requirements and requirements of this chapter as now or hereafter amended, tow truck operators appointed or hired to perform towing service pursuant to this chapter shall observe the following practices and procedures:

A. When called by the police department, the tow truck operator will arrive at the scene within 20 minutes for Class A or B trucks and within 30 minutes for Class C trucks.

B. If, for any reason, a tow truck operator on rotation is unable to dispatch a tow truck within the stated time, the tow truck operator shall so advise the police dispatch center. In the event the tow truck does not arrive at the scene within 20 minutes for Class A or B trucks and within 30 minutes for Class C trucks, the police department will contact another tow business to perform the necessary services.

C. A tow operator on rotation who is unable to dispatch within the time stated in subsections (A) and (B) of this section will forfeit his turn and be placed at the bottom of the rotation list as if he had responded.

D. Consistent refusal to respond or failure of the appointee to arrive within 20 minutes for Class A or B trucks and within 30 minutes for Class C trucks to calls from the police department for towing services may result in the suspension or revocation of the tow operator’s letter of appointment or towing contract.

E. The tow operator shall immediately advise the police department when he receives a private call for a tow and the circumstances indicate that the tow is for a vehicle which has been involved in an accident or other such incident on the public roadway. The tow operator also shall immediately advise the police department of all traffic accidents on private property resulting in bodily injury or death when the operator has received a private call for a tow at such an accident.

F. The tow operator will notify the police department before moving any vehicle involved in an accident on a public highway under the jurisdiction of the Lynnwood police department, or where it appears that the driver of the vehicle to be moved is under the influence of intoxicants or drugs, or is otherwise incapacitated.

G. When the police department is in charge of an accident scene or other such incident, a tow operator shall not respond to such scene unless his services have been specifically requested by the police department.

H. The tow operator shall be available 24 hours a day for the purpose of receiving calls or arranging for the release of vehicles. Business hours will be posted conspicuously at the operator’s place of business so they can be seen during business hours and nonbusiness hours.

I. The tow operator shall have a secure storage area for the vehicles stored by the operator at the request of the police department. All storage areas shall be fenced, lighted and secure. Lighting will be of sufficient illumination to permit visual inspection of all vehicles stored during the hours of darkness. Fences will be of sufficient strength and height to discourage entry to the storage area, except through controlled gates. Each operator will have available an enclosed garage for use and storage of vehicles containing or considered to be evidence in criminal or civil proceedings. This enclosure will have all windows, if any, barred.

The storage area will be located within one mile of the city limits of the city of Lynnwood; provided, that this requirement can be waived by the city clerk if it appears that capacity of lots is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the city and so long as any lot is reasonably convenient to the residents of the city.

J. Tow operators will post current towing service rates in a conspicuous place at the company’s place of business. All rates for the city of Lynnwood requested services shall not exceed a uniform rate approved by the city council.

K. If the city clerk’s office receives written complaints from towing customers or the police department concerning appointed tow businesses alleging price gouging, overcharging, charging for services not received, and other such pricing abuses and/or any improprieties, it will cause such allegations to be investigated by the police department.

L. Tow operators will maintain, for three years, records on towed and released vehicles which were towed at the request of the police department. This record will include, but not be limited to:

1. An itemized receipt of charges to the claimant of the vehicle;

2. An inventory sheet, or copy thereof, made out by the officer at the scene of the tow and signed by the tow truck driver.

Such records will be available for inspection by the police department during normal business hours.

M. The tow truck driver will sign an inventory sheet made out by the officer at the scene of the tow, and receive a copy upon release of vehicle from impound.

N. Tow operators will obtain registration as a disposer by the Department of Licensing pursuant to applicable state requirements.

O. Each towing operator shall carry and shall provide proof to the city clerk of minimum insurance requirements of: $1,000,000 for liability for bodily injury or property damage per occurrence; and $100,000 of legal liability per occurrence, to protect against vehicle damage, including but not limited to fire and theft, from the time a vehicle comes into the custody of an operator until it is redeemed or sold.

The city clerk shall be notified within 30 days of any change which leaves the tow operator without the necessary minimum coverage. A copy of the insurance policy or certificate of coverage shall be filed with the finance director. The insurer shall notify the city clerk 30 days in advance of any cancellation if the policy is sought to be canceled.

P. Towing operators shall perform towing tasks completely and competently. The standard of competence shall be that quality of work which is accepted as efficient and effective within the towing industry. The chief of police will investigate all quality of work complaints, and report his findings to the city council. (Ord. 3404 § 3 (Att. A), 2021; Ord. 2246 § 1, 1999; Ord. 1621, 1988; Ord. 1573 § 3, 1987; Ord. 1201, 1981)

10.21.120 Rates.

All tow truck operators having a letter of appointment to provide towing services for the city of Lynnwood shall maintain approved uniform rates, notwithstanding that rates may be maintained at a lower than approved level, which shall be reviewed and approved every two years by the city council, provided, rates which are established shall remain effective until the council approves new rates. (Ord. 2246 § 1, 1999; Ord. 1573 § 4, 1987; Ord. 1201, 1981)

10.21.130 Penalties.

Any violation of these rules and regulations may result in the suspension, revocation or denial of the letter of appointment by the city clerk. (Ord. 3404 § 3 (Att. A), 2021; Ord. 2246 § 1, 1999; Ord. 1201, 1981)

10.21.900 Bid process alternative provision for tow truck services.

As an alternative to those provisions of this chapter relating to providing tow truck service to the city by and through a letter of appointment, the city may obtain said services by contracting for said services after negotiation following competitive bidding or other procedure approved by the city council. Such contract shall supersede any and all letters of appointment issued to a tow truck operator. (Ord. 2246 § 1, 1999; Ord. 1854 § 1, 1991; Ord. 1589 § 1, 1987)