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Towed Cars at Downtown Parking Lot Still Causing Headaches

Owner says he wants to finds a solution that works for everyone, including installing an automatic parking meter

This September, the owner of the Bank of America building and parking lot on Kentucky began towing cars that were parked there after hours. Broken bottles and trash were strewn all over the lot, and partygoers would often vomit or even sleep in their cars, creating a liability, said Elias Husary.

But the change has angered many residents who say Husary hasn’t done enough to prevent cars from being towed.

“If the owner doesn't want anyone in the lot at night, why doesn't he put a chain across the entrance?” said Lorrie Notter, whose son’s car was recently towed as he was playing a gig at the and cost $250 to recover. “This situation does not reflect well on Bank of America and it sure doesn't promote doing business in downtown Petaluma.”

Notter said when she called the Petaluma Police Department about the missing car, she was told that an average of 15 vehicles a night are towed from the location.

That’s news to Husary, who said he was surprised to learn that the number was so high. However, he said he couldn’t chain off the lot because it had to remain accessible to people using the bank’s ATM machine as well as employees, like janitorial staff, that needed to access the building at night.

“There are six signs around the parking lot with reflectors on them so that they are more noticeable,” Husary said, adding that it costs him more than $1,000 a month to insure and maintain the lot. “I don’t know what more I can do.”

Husary, who owns properties around Petaluma, said he had initially offered monthly parking permits, but couldn’t garner enough interest. “Some people emailed me wanting a partial permit, but it wasn’t feasible.”

He then contacted Petaluma Downtown Association for help, floating a plan to get neighborhood merchants to pay a small fee to make the lot accessible to the public. But the PDA said the plan wouldn’t get the support of local businesses, especially in these tough economic times. Now Husary says he’s looking into purchasing an automated parking meter where people would be able to pay for a spot with a swipe of a credit card.

“I feel bad that people are being towed,” Husary said. “But we’re looking for a better solution.”

Do you think the BofA lot on Kentucky and Petaluma Boulevard North should become a paid one? Should the city build another free lot? Sound off in the comments below.

Don Lewis December 14, 2011 at 07:00 PM
To be honest, there's not nearly enough overnight parking in downtown Petaluma considering how many establishments serve alcohol in the downtown area. If someone wants to drink and responsibly take a cab or get a sober ride home, they have nowhere to leave their car without getting towed or ticketed. The street parking (while open and free all day Sunday) is 2 hours starting at 8 am Monday-Saturday and cars left past 2 hours are ticketed EVERY 2 hours. Both parking garages (to the best of my knowledge) do not allow overnight parking which then forces people to park in residential areas near downtown or in business lots. I also don't think it's fair that people trash Mr. Husary's lot but the lack of safe, free parking in downtown Petaluma contrasted with the amount of bars, clubs and restaurants serving alcohol is severely lopsided.
Marty Hirsch December 14, 2011 at 11:21 PM
I got towed when I went to a Halloween party at Kodiak Jack's on October 29 from 8 to 11. There was no safe parking in the area. There was NO sign prohibiting parking in the lot! I had to pay $350 to get my car back the next day. I went back a week later to take pictures but by then, they had put up the required signage. My tow was ILLEGAL but there is nothing I can do about it. Shameful!
Karina Ioffee December 15, 2011 at 12:20 AM
Sorry to hear about your experience Marty. But the lack of parking downtown, especially on the weekends, is a bg problem. But the question remains, will people pay to park in this or any other lot?
Go Occupy! December 15, 2011 at 04:34 AM
The first question that pops into my head is how much does B of A pay him monthly for daytime access to the lot for it's customers? If he pays $1000 per month to insure and maintain the lot 24/7 and it's a problem for him, why not work that into his contract with B of A? And the signs...what are there, 40 spaces in that lot? And only six signs saying that you will be towed? And, the owner is "shocked, I tell you" that an average of 15 cars a night get towed. Really? So 15 x $250 = $3,750 per night = $112,500 per month = $1,350,000 per year. I mean, gosh, that's a chunk of change that just came on the scene over the past two months. I guess that installing meters would really cut into the towing companies action.
Michelle Nielsen December 15, 2011 at 05:21 PM
What part about the term private property are people failing to understand? I just don't get it! 40 spaces and only 6 signs? Really? There is only one entrance into the lot not 50! What part of personal responsibility escapes you? If you park there and you get towed then that's your problem. It's private - don't park there or be prepared for the consequencess. If you think there is not enough safe parking at night then do something about it through the proper channels. Do not make this public issue a prvate individual's problem.
Les Cannon, Camarillo, CA September 26, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I got towed Fri night 9/21/12. I AM NOT FROM PETALUMA, or any where close. I saw the sign stating "display....etc" but looked around and did not find any place to pay. Gone NOT MORE THAN 1 HOUR to have coffee and pie at Petaluma Pie Co. Car gone. Taxi "coincidentally" waiting in parking lot to take me to towing lot. Cost ??? $ 300 !! What a lucrative SCAM. Anybody know the definition of extortion ??
Karina Ioffee September 26, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Interesting. Anyone else have problem finding the payment box?

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