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Buffalo moving toward updating its towing policy

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People who have had their car towed for illegal parking or other issues in the City of Buffalo are finding that getting their car back is difficult, at best. The Common Council is now looking at updating the old law.

South District Councilmember Christopher Scanlon says he is getting complaints from residents and police officers about the way cars are getting towed in Buffalo. Scanlon says drivers are not being informed, so cars are being reported stolen. Then police waste resources because, despite the law, he says operators are not reporting towed vehicle information to police.

To make matters worse, Scanlon says cars can only be retrieved Monday through Friday and companies are charging double for weekend storage. Bills can total from $200 to $500, but most companies only accept cash.  
    
"More than anything, the process should be a lot easier for people than the tow truck operators are making it," Scanlon said.

Scanlon is proposing an amendment to the city charter requiring tow truck operators to accept credit cards and to open storage lots on weekends. Pastor Brian West, whose family owns Elite Towing, in Buffalo, says people park all the time in front of signs warning illegally parked cars will be towed.  
    
"The reason why we have the people pay cash is they write a check [and] the check is bad. They give us a credit card, then they turn around and deny the charges and say they were coerced. Now we're waiting three to four months to get paid, if we get paid at all. But yet we still have to pay insurances, gas, repairs, drivers," West said.     

After several other council members spoke in favor of updating the law, the amendment was sent to the Legislation Committee for revision and public input before it faces a final vote.