Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg council rejects tougher rules on parking lots, towing companies

ST. PETERSBURG — In the wake of a well-publicized towing scam during the Tampa Bay Rays home opener, the City Council decided Thursday that rules regulating lots and haulers are fine for now.

"The key is education," Chairwoman Leslie Curran said. "If you don't want to be towed, don't park where there's a sign that prohibits parking. We should just continue to monitor (parking) and see what happens."

Council member Wengay Newton proposed that parking attendants at private lots wear identification and register with the city to prevent a parking scam he witnessed last month. Upon returning to his car after the Rays' first home game, Newton saw several motorists complain about getting their cars towed from an adjacent lot.

Newton said the towed cars were part of a scam in which nearby residents hid no-parking signs and then collected money from people who paid to park. While they were gone, a towing company pulled the cars.

It's a long-standing scam that would be prevented by the identification badges, said Newton, who was disappointed that he didn't find support from Mayor Bill Foster and city staff.

"Staff is more sympathetic to the parking attendants than the people who are getting ripped off," Newton said. "We have to do what we can to protect our residents."

Foster said while he appreciates Newton's intentions, requiring badges and processing identifications would be too cumbersome for infractions that are limited in scope.

"It's like taking a cannon to a knife fight," Foster said. "With the particular lot Wengay is talking about, we took care of the problem. But doing this would add another layer of government and another regulation that we have to monitor."

City parking manager Evan Mory said he will review more than 80 lots and the signs at them to make sure they are visible, as well as continue to publicize parking tips on the city website.

"It's not a do-nothing approach," Mory said.

Police Sgt. Gary Dukeman said the towing company, Apex Towing, was fined $188 for each of the cars towed that night because motorists weren't properly notified of the tow, as county law requires.

Dukeman said officers were more aware of potential scams since opening night, but said it's still up to motorists to make sure their vehicles are safe.

"It's buyer beware," he said. "If you don't see an identifiable sign, it's a risk. You should know there are opportunistic criminals out there."

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (727) 893-8037 or

St. Petersburg council rejects tougher rules on parking lots, towing companies 05/06/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 1:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Spacewalking astronauts pull off urgent repairs at International Space Station (w/video)


    CAPE CANAVERAL — Spacewalking astronauts completed urgent repairs at the International Space Station on Tuesday, replacing equipment that failed three days earlier and restoring a backup for a vital data-relay system.

    In this NASA provided frame from video, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer works to install antennas at the International Space Station while astronaut Peggy Whitson, not pictured, works on repairs Tuesday, May 23, 2017. [NASA via AP]
  2. Forecast: Severe storms, gusty winds for Tampa Bay as cold front arrives Wednesday


    Muggy and dry conditions will prevail across the Tampa Bay region ahead of a cold front that could produce gusty winds and potentially severe storms late Wednesday.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  3. For starters: Rays vs. Angels, with Cobb leading the way


    Rays veteran RHP Alex Cobb had a lot to say Monday about the team needing to focus on getting past .500 and building a winning record.

    And after the disappointing 3-2 loss that …

    Alex Cobb will start tonight when the Rays play the Angels.
  4. Tampa murder suspect told police he wanted to stop neo-Nazi roommates from committing acts of domestic terrorism


    TAMPA — After he admitted to shooting two roommates and led police to their dead bodies, Devon Arthurs said he committed the killings to prevent the pair from carrying out terrorist acts, a prosecutor wrote in a court filing.

    Devon Arthurs, 18, told police  he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, until he converted to Islam, according to a police report.
[Tampa Police]
  5. Pinellas School Board approves plan that aims to close achievement gap


    After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the Pinellas County School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan that aims to tackle the achievement gap in 10 years and settles a long-running lawsuit over the education of …

    "I'm an optimist. I think this is going to work," Pinellas School Board member Linda Lerner said Tuesday after the board was presented with a plan that aims to settle a long-running lawsuit over the education of black students and close the achievement gap. The board voted 7-0 to approve the plan. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]