Chapter 5.85


5.85.010    Definitions.

5.85.020    Application for letter of appointment.

5.85.030    Application form for letter of appointment.

5.85.040    Processing of application.

5.85.050    Issuance of a letter of appointment.

5.85.060    Suspension or revocation of letter of appointment.

5.85.070    Letter does not grant vested right.

5.85.080    Appeal.

5.85.090    Towing procedure.

5.85.100    Vehicle towing operator qualifications.

5.85.110    RCW provisions incorporated by reference.

5.85.120    Inspections.

5.85.130    Bid process alternative provision for tow truck services.

5.85.140    Penalties.

5.85.010 Definitions.

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

B. “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.

C. “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.

D. “Tow truck” means a specially constructed and equipped motor vehicle for towing vehicles and not otherwise used in transporting goods for compensation.

E. “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 tow business is transacted.

F. Additional definitions contained in RCW 46.55.010 are hereby incorporated herein by reference. (Ord. 1829, 1989; Ord. 1313 § 1, 1980).

5.85.020 Application for letter of appointment.

A. An application for a letter of appointment to provide towing services for the City of Mountlake Terrace 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 10 percent or more 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 granted by the City Manager. 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 Mountlake Terrace. However, nothing herein shall prohibit the Police Department from calling the towing business upon the specific request of the person responsible for the vehicle, or his agent. (Ord. 1313 § 2, 1980).

5.85.030 Application form for letter of appointment.

The application for a letter of appointment shall be made on the form prescribed by the City Manager. 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. (Ord. 1313 § 3, 1980).

5.85.040 Processing of application.

Every application for authorization to provide a towing service at the request of the Police Department, will be referred to the City Manager. If the City Manager finds that the requirements of this chapter have been satisfied by the applicant and that the applicant is otherwise qualified, the City Manager shall issue an appropriate letter of appointment. If the City Manager shall find that the applicant does not meet the requirements of this chapter, then the City Manager shall deny such application and shall so notify the applicant of the decision, stating the reasons therefore in writing. If a letter of appointment is granted, the City Manager will notify the applicant in writing and notify the Police Department directing them to use the services of the applicant in accordance with this chapter. (Ord. 1313 § 4, 1980).

5.85.050 Issuance of a 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 herein) from the City Manager. No such letter of appointment will be issued by the City Manager unless the City Manager is satisfied that all qualifications set out in this chapter have been met. The letter of appointment required under this chapter is separate from and in addition to the business license that may be required under Chapter 5.05 MTMC when applicable.

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, then his 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. A letter of appointment shall be valid until superseded or revoked by the City Manager, except as otherwise provided in subsection B of this section.

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

G. Before a letter of appointment can be issued by the City Manager, the applicant must have tow truck(s) meeting the minimum standards in WAC 204-66-106. (Ord. 2764 § 18, 2019; Ord. 1313 § 5, 1980).

5.85.060 Suspension or revocation of letter of appointment.

Upon receiving evidence that any appointee has failed to comply to or no longer complies with any requirement or provision of these rules and regulations, the City Manager may deny, suspend, or revoke the letter of appointment. The City Manager may not suspend or revoke the letter of appointment unless the appointee has been given notice and an opportunity to be heard.

The Police Department shall maintain files of complaints received from any person, and shall submit copies of the complaint(s) to the City Manager. (Ord. 1313 § 6, 1980).

5.85.070 Letter does not grant vested right.

The issuance of any letter of appointment by the City Manager 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 City Manager. (Ord. 1313 § 7, 1980).

5.85.080 Appeal.

Any person aggrieved by a decision of the City Manager denying, suspending, or revoking a letter of appointment may appeal such decision to the City Council of Mountlake Terrace. (Ord. 1313 § 8, 1980).

5.85.090 Towing procedure.

Police officers of the Mountlake Terrace Police Department shall obtain towing services to remove damaged or disabled vehicles from the highway or to remove vehicles from the highway 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 at 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 that location.

D. The City Manager shall specify that tow services obtained by the Police Department will be on a rotational basis, among designated appointees. (Ord. 1313 § 9, 1980).

5.85.100 Vehicle towing operator qualifications.

In addition to WAC 204-66-160, tow truck operators appointed to perform towing service pursuant to this chapter shall observe the following practices and procedures:

A. When called by the Police Department, tow truck operator will dispatch a tow truck within five minutes during normal business hours.

B. Tow trucks dispatched at the request of the Police Department after normal business hours, will be on the move within 10 minutes after receiving the call.

C. The tow truck that is dispatched will arrive at the stated location within a reasonable time considering distance and traffic conditions.

D. If for any reason a tow operator 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 a reasonable time, the Patrol will contact another tow business to perform the necessary services.

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

F. Consistent refusal or failure of the appointee to respond to calls from the Police Department for towing services may result in the suspension or revocation of the tow operator’s letter of appointment.

G. The tow operator will 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 will 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.

H. 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 Mountlake Terrace 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.

I. 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.

J. 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.

K. The tow operator shall have a secure storage area for the vehicles stored by the operator at the request of the Police Department. Such storage area shall comply with Department of Licensing requirements for registered disposers (WAC 308-61-110).

L. RCW 46.55.060 (Business Location –Requirements) is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

M. If the City Manager 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.

N. Tow operators will maintain, for one year, 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.

O. 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.

P. Tow operators will obtain registration as a disposer by the Department of Licensing pursuant to Chapter 308-61 WAC.

Q. Each towing operator shall carry at least $15,000 of insurance to protect against vehicle damage from, including but not limited to, fire and theft incurred from the time a vehicle comes into his custody pursuant to this regulation, until he releases or otherwise disposes of it. Each towing operator shall also carry at least $300,000 of liability insurance for property or bodily injury. Insurance must be sufficient to compensate for any loss of, or damage to, property entrusted to the towing firm.

The City Clerk shall be notified within 10 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 City Clerk. The insurer shall notify the City Clerk within five days if the policy is canceled.

R. Tow operators shall perform towing tasks completely. The standard of competence shall be that quality of work which is accepted as efficient and effective within the towing industry. (Ord. 1829, 1989; Ord. 1313 § 10, 1980).

5.85.110 RCW provisions incorporated by reference.

Additional provisions contained in RCW 46.55.070, 46.55.080, 46.55.085, 46.55.090, 46.55.100, 46.55.113, and 46.55.120 are hereby incorporated herein by reference. (Ord. 1829, 1989; Ord. 1313 § 11, 1980).

5.85.120 Inspections.

The City of Mountlake Terrace shall provide no inspection of tow truck vehicles or equipment, unless called upon to do so by reason of an accident or other mishap. (Ord. 1876, 1989; Ord. 1313 § 12, 1980).

5.85.130 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 calling for bids for such services and entering into a contract with the lowest acceptable bidder, all in accordance with state law. Such contract shall supersede any and all letters of appointment issued to a tow truck operator”. (Ord. 1829, 1989; Ord. 1313 § 13, 1980).

5.85.140 Penalties.

Any violation of these rules and regulations may result in the suspension, revocation, or denial of the letter of appointment by the City Manager. (Ord. 1829, 1989; Ord. 1313 § 14, 1980).