PORTLAND -- When the recent snow and ice storm hit the Portland metro area, the driving conditions turned dangerous.
Many drivers said it was impossible to get around.
City leaders warned people to stay home, not to go out unless they had to and to stay off the roads.
Many drivers heeded the warning and some even abandoned their vehicles when the conditions turned dangerous. But a lot of those vehicles were towed away.
Chris Vetter of Oregonians against Predatory Towing says the circumstances required some consideration.
“They, especially in the snow, could have a little compassion,” he said.
He’s talking about the towing companies. Many of them kept busy during the storm.
Shanti Callister found that out the hard way. During the storm, she was driving up a hill on Harrison Street when her wheels started to spin and she lost control.
“Then we started sliding backwards in my car, so I got really nervous, I didn't feel comfortable or safe driving it any further than it already was, so I pulled into her parking lot and they have a temporary visitor parking,” she said.
That was a costly mistake. As the snow kept falling, Shanti said she couldn’t move her car. But a tow truck did.
“My stomach dropped because I knew I wouldn't be able to get my car for a few days.” she said.
By the time Shanti got her car from the Retriever Towing impound yard, the tow and the storage fees came to $280.
That’s an amount Vetter says should be reduced because of the circumstances.
“People will park in spots on an emergency basis, they'll park in spots that they don’t realize are handicapped, or that they don’t realize are limited by minutes because they're literally buried in snow.”
Vetter says when the city is advising people to stay off the roads and the weather makes it dangerous to drive, a little compassion from the towing companies is expected.
“There's absolutely no excuse for this kind of predatory behavior,” she said.
Unit 8 went to Retriever Towing to ask about the situation but the No Trespassing sign warned us of prosecution if we went on the property.
But there was some good news. From Thursday through Sunday, 102 vehicles were towed.
Portland Parking Enforcement towed 27 vehicles, 39 were towed as private property impounds and 44 were towed by the Oregon Department of Transportation.
ODOT picked up the cost of the vehicles they towed and many were taken to safer locations so the owners could pick them up, free of charge.
That’s little consolation to Shanti, who paid a $280 towing bill.
“They just said, ‘You know, there's nothing we can do; we need to make a living too.’”
Retriever Towing did nothing illegal. The laws remain in effect even during severe weather.