PTPA, Predatory Towing Prevention Act
Why Do We Need This Act?
Our nightmare experience with Predatory
Towing at the Siesta Lago Mobile Home Park
When we purchased a mobile home and leased the lot with a driveway that it sat on (Lot #377) in the Siesta Lago Mobile Home Park in the unincorporated area of Osceola County, we were ignorant of state laws, county ordinances and even the Siesta Lago Standards pertaining to towing, until four (4) attempts were made to tow our vehicles from our private lot #377 driveway.
Even though we have knowledge of four attempts to tow our vehicles from our leased lot, quite seriously, there may have been more.
Three of the four attempts were for absolute bogus reasons.
In the Siesta Lago Rules and Regulations, page 13, #7 Vehicles, the ARC Corporation wrote their full acceptance of “PREDATORY TOWING,” as their policy. In reference to vehicles with an expired tag, a wheel on the grass or needing repair, it states,
“Vehicles in violation of these Standards may be towed away without notice...at the registered owner’s expense.”
The only word I would change, is the word “may.” The proper word to insert is the word, “will.” Your vehicle will be towed, with the exception of residents on the manager’s “most favored” list.
Vehicles in violation of these Standards may be towed away without notice, or with such minimum notice as is required by applicable law.
Resident's vehicles parked in their private driveways will always be (not may be) TOWED AWAY WITHOUT NOTICE for an expired tag or even an accidental tire on the grass. These violations NEVER receive ANY KIND OF NOTICE before or after the vehicle is towed from the resident's private driveways.
If you request a copy of the AUTHORIZATION slip to tow that is given to Magic Tows, your request is belligerently denied or ignored, even if requested in writing.
We are told that there is a photo on file of the vehicle in violation of Standards. If you request a copy or even to just see the photo, your request is belligerently denied and ignored., even if requested in writing.
For all resident's, Siesta Lago management has on file, the make of all vehicles, their registration numbers, as well as an I.D. sticker #, that is on all vehicles. There is no excuse for not giving a warning written NOTICE.
RECOMMENDATION: The County Supervisors pass a TOWING WITH NOTICE ordinance that requires mobile home park staff to affix a 24 hour WARNING NOTICE sticker on the window of vehicles, prior to towing, or require Magic Tows to not tow a vehicle without this prior WARNING NOTICE.
It is just not righr that loopholes in present towing laws are used to amass wealth by some unscrupulous tow companies, with the cooperation of some mobile home park owners, at the expense of impoverished citizens, especially senior citizens, These loopholes need to be closed and PTPA will do just that. TL
Reasons that your vehicle will be towed from your private leased lot driveway at Siesta Lago.
Reason #1. An expired tag (delinquent taxes) on your vehicle. If your birthday is on March 31st, on April 1st your vehicle is a prime target to be towed from your driveway, because there is not a current sticker.
Experience with law enforcement: I renewed my tag online in March, 2010, and printed out the receipt. In April, my sticker had not yet come in the mail and a Deputy Sheriff pulled even me over for an expired tag. I showed him the DMV printout and he let me go on my way. (My van was legally registered because the taxes were paid, online, via my debit card. The absence of the sticker meant nothing.)
Experience #1 with Siesta Lago manager, April 2010: I approached the Siesta Lago manager and explained about the renewal online and waiting for the March 2011 sticker to arrive in the mail. Her comment was, "If there is not a current sticker on a vehicle, as far as I'm concerned it will be towed."
BTW. After the comment by the Siesta Lago manager, I drove to the DMV and explained the situation and they indeed admitted that the sticker should have arrived in the mail and they promptly issued me a new one--no charge.
Experience #2 with Siesta Lago managers, April 2011: We were having some financial problems and I was unable to pay the taxes to renew my tags on time. On a Sunday afternoon, a Magic Tows truck hooked up to my van in my driveway and took it to their storage yard. On Monday morning I went to the park office and was given the Magic Tows phone number. The park manager informed me that they have no say on who is towed from the park. She said, "I sign a bunch of blank authorization slips and given them to Magic Tows and they use them as they need them. Later, I asked verbally and in subsequent emails and letters for a copy of this slip and as of today, 2/12/12, I have not received it. The park policy is NO NOTICE before or after.
Reason #2. At least one tire on the grass.
Experience with Siesta Lago manager. My neighbors said that a man with a camera was taking pictures of my van's two tires. This man (A PAID SPOTTER) did not work for the mobile home park and was not driving a tow truck. Actually, he was a resident who was walking around the park to take photos of expired tags and tires on the grass, in order to call in a tow truck to tow resident's vehicles.
My van was parked in my driveway and grass grew over the edge of the asphalt and actually did touch two tires of my van. Without moving my van, I edged the grass and took photos and included them in a letter that I sent to the park manager. She called me into her office and was clearly irate that I sent her the letter, calling me a liar, stating emphatically that, "I know you moved that van." She also angrily demanded who informed me that a Magic Tows driver was seen paying cash to a SPOTTER in the park. She declared, "That's hearsay," because I didn't personally see the money exchanging hands.
Paying money to "SPOTTERS" is a clear violation of Florida State Law 715.07 4. What is a SPOTTER? A SPOTTER is a person who illegally walks or drives around the mobile home park and looks for vehicles that can be towed and reports them to the tow company. Sometimes they use cameras to take photos of the supposed violation. They are paid for their services by the tow company.
4. A person may not pay or accept money or other valuable consideration for the privilege of towing or removing vehicles or vessels from a particular location.
Reason #3. A flat tire.
Experience with assistant manager. My daughter and her husband live with us and he had surgery and she took time off from work to nurse him back to health. In the meantime, she had a slow leak in one of her tires. Fortunately we discovered the bright orange sticker, a 24 hour NOTICE TO TOW for a flat tire, was affixed to her window. We promptly had the tire fixed. The park staff member, who affixed the sticker, could have knocked on our door, emailed or called us but chose to let Magic Tows tow her car from our driveway if we didn't discover the sticker in time. PREDATORY TOWING!
Are you aware of the fact that there is not a City of Kissimee Ordinance, Osceola County Ordinance or Florida State Law that gives code and law enforcement the permission to order a vehicle be towed from a resident's driveway for an expired tag? Therefore, the Kissimmee Police, the County Sheriff's Department and the Florida Highway Patrol will not call in a tow truck to tow a vehicle from a resident's driveway.
However, all three law enforcement agencies, the Kissimmee Police, Osceola Sheriff's and Florida Highway Patrol will stop and ticket any vehicle with expired tags. That's right, a driver of a vehicle with expired tags for a moving violation will be given a written CITATION, with orders to get the tags renewed (pay the taxes) pay the fine to the city, county or state and in most, if not all cases they will have a full 30 days to do this, or penalties will be added. Of course, the owner of the vehicle can also contest the citation in court.
Sign at entrance to Siesta Lago Siesta Lago Sales Office Magic Tows sign Magic Tows office
The wealthy and powerful ARC Corporation, Affordable Residential Communities, has enacted their own TOWING LAWS into their Siesta Lago Standards, Rules and Regulations and their contract with Magic Tows.
The ARC attorney submitted the 2007 Rules and Regulations to the state of Florida DBPR, which were approved, with caveat--the state does not endorse the content. You can read the caveat in the last paragraph of the approval letter below.
In these Standards are the laws that are more powerful and over reaching than any Florida, city, county or state laws. The ARC Corporation has given themselves tools to make their managers lives easy by giving Magic Tows LLC, drivers, the authority to prowl the streets of Siesta Lago, searching for vehicles that have expired tags (late payment of taxes) and their approval to tow these so-called "Unauthorized Vehicles" without NOTICE of an kind, before or after. Siesta Lago management has made themselves the "PROTECTOR OF THE STATE," and every Magic Tows driver prowling the streets of Siesta Lago has been authorized by ARC Corporate and Siesta Lago management to become a "CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER." (I doubt they had a swearing in ceremony)
One of the glaring differences between Siesta Lago laws and the Florida laws in that a NOTICE is never given.
In the Siesta Lago Rules and Regulations, page 13, #7 Vehicles, the ARC Corporation wrote their full acceptance of “PREDATORY TOWING,” as their Towing Without Notice policy. In reference to vehicles with an expired tag, a wheel on the grass or a flat tire, it states,
NOTICE OF ACCUSATION
The constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation entitles the defendant to insist that the indictment apprise him of the crime charged with such reasonable certainty that he can make his defense and protect himself after judgment against another prosecution on the same charge.147 No indictment is sufficient if it does not allege all of the ingredients that constitute the crime. Where the language of a statute is, according to the natural import of the words, fully descriptive of the offense, it is sufficient if the indictment follows the statutory phraseology,148 but where the elements of the crime have to be ascertained by reference to the common law or to other statutes, it is not sufficient to set forth the offense in the words of the statute. The facts necessary to bring the case within the statutory definition must also be alleged.149 If an offense cannot be accurately and clearly described without an allegation that the accused is not within an exception contained in the statutes, an indictment which does not contain such allegation is defective.150 Despite the omission of obscene particulars, an indictment in general language is good if the unlawful conduct is described so as reasonably to inform the accused of the nature of the charge sought to be established against him.151 The Constitution does not require the Government to furnish a copy of the indictment to an accused.152 The right to notice of accusation is so fundamental a part of procedural due process that the States are required to observe it.153
144 Lamar v. United States, 241 U.S. 103 (1916).
145 Jones v. United States, 137 U.S. 202, 211 (1890); United States v. Dawson, 56 U.S. (15 How.) 467, 488 (1853).
146 Cook v. United States, 138 U.S. 157, 182 (1891). See also United States v. Socony-Vacuum Oil Co., 310 U.S. 150, 250-54 (1940); United States v. Johnson, 323 U.S. 273 (1944).
147 United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542, 544, 558 (1876); United States v. Simmons, 96 U.S. 360 (1878); Bartell v. United States, 227 U.S. 427 (1913); Burton v. United States, 202 U.S. 344 (1906).
148 Potter v. United States, 155 U.S. 438, 444 (1894).
149 United States v. Carll, 105 U.S. 611 (1882).
150 United States v. Cook, 84 U.S. (17 Wall.) 168, 174 (1872).
151 Rosen v. United States, 161 U.S. 29, 40 (1896).
152 United States v. Van Duzee, 140 U.S. 169, 173 (1891).
153 In re Oliver, 333 U.S. 257, 273 (1948); Cole v. Arkansas, 333 U.S. 196, 201 (1948); Rabe v. Washington, 405 U.S. 313 (1972).
Loopholes have been created that have opened the door for abuse of citizens in Florida statute 715.07, which says:
Florida Law Title XL, Section 715.07 9 (b) These requirements are minimum standards and do not preclude enactment of additional regulations by any municipality or county including the right to regulate rates when vehicles or vessels are towed from private property.
In light of the above, the Legislature may wish to readdress these issues and clarify its intent regarding the mobile home park owner's power to ignore state law and county ordinances regarding many issues including the towing of vehicles from the mobile home parks.