PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Provo Mayor John Curtis has received over five hundred complaints from residents claiming that local towing companies are preying on them while turning a big profit.
"You're always nervous that you might get booted or at least ticketed for being in the wrong spot at the wrong time," said BYU student Tommy Hirschi.
Residents of Provo say towing companies are aggressively booting or towing away their cars, and then on top of it, charging exorbitant fees.
"I'm making just barely over minimum wage and I can't afford to pay two or three hundred bucks to get my car out," said BYU student Gareth Reichert.
Mayor Curtis, who recently blogged about the growing problem, calls these towing companies predatory - accusing them of waiting and watching for drivers to screw up. He adds that to top it off, the towing companies tack on hidden fees that jack up the cost of getting a car out of an impound lot. "They charge for gas, for storage - up to one hundred dollars a day (sometimes for storage), and people go pick up their cars, and even though they did something as innocent as parking on the white lines, they get charged two hundred dollars," said Curtis.
The owner of one of Provo's biggest towing companies counters the criticism by saying it's a business and they're just doing their job. "We have very specific rules from properties - the same rules they give their residents. Those rules are posted at the entrance so everybody has a right to see those," said Michael Lamont, President of University Parking Enforcement.
Although Lamont's company handles nearly 80 percent of Provo's private property towing, he does admit there are other companies in town who are guilty of tacking on hidden fees. "With University Parking you're paying 175 dollars. (With) these other companies you're paying upwards of 300 plus," said Lamont.
Residents realize enforcements need to be made, but they're also hoping for a more fair solution. "I think instead of towing, you should just give a ticket as a warning," said Provo resident Jennifer Collier.
Mayor Curtis met with city council members on Tuesday to begin the discussion over the parking debate. Curtis says ultimately to fix the problem, city ordinances and possibly even state laws need to change.