Continuing irresolution on towing regulations for Hilton Head Island can be overcome, and we ask Town Council to do so without unnecessary delay.
The idea has been on the table for months now; Beaufort County passed its regulations in June.
We've heard from towing operators that the regulations are unnecessary and the caps on fees too low.
On the contrary, the regulations are a necessary safeguard against unscrupulous practices, especially when it comes to towing from private property.
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People should not be charged predatory prices to retrieve their vehicles. Those who authorize the towing should be accountable for what happens on their property. Towing companies should not be prowling for towing opportunities.
Using immobilizing wheel boots, unless directed by law enforcement, also should be prohibited. That creates problems; it doesn't solve them.
Those issues are addressed in the county's ordinance and in the town's proposed ordinance.
Provisions for lower fees if the owner arrives before the vehicle is hooked up to the tow truck or before it is hauled away are just common sense.
Ensuring that a vehicle is not impounded for longer than necessary, thus jacking up the fees that have to be paid, is fair.
As for the specific caps on fees, the simple solution is to match the county's fees so that there is consistency for towing operators whether they are on the island or off the island.
The county's fees have been in place for seven months now and seem to be working fine. The difference between the town's proposed fees and the county's fees are not so great that the county's shouldn't be adopted.
The town's ordinance would cap fees for cars towed from private property without the owners' consent at $150 or $175, depending on the type of equipment used. The county set a cap of $200.
It also would set a $45 maximum fee if the owner returns before the vehicle is attached to the tow truck. The maximum fee would be $75 if the vehicle has already been attached. The county set its cap at $75 and $100, respectively.
Town Councilman Bill Harkins, chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee, has the right focus for the ordinance: Ensuring towing operators act fairly and that people are protected from excessive fees.
Communities across the state and the nation have similar regulations in place. Hilton Head should join them.