Towing contracts delayed again

DOWNEY - A recommendation from the Downey Police Department to contract with two local companies for towing services was delayed a second time this week. Councilmen Luis Marquez and Fernando Vasquez requested more time to study the contracts endorsed by police chief Rick Esteves.

The contracts with Titan Transportation and United Tow were originally scheduled for a vote May 8 but were delayed after Marquez objected to council members being left out of the review process.

A subcommittee of Marquez and Vasquez was formed at that time to further study the contracts.

On Tuesday, Marquez and Vasquez asked for additional time, citing a shortened week due to a municipal government conference last week in Indian Wells. Mayor Roger Brossmer appeared agitated but granted the request, making clear a vote would be taken at the next council meeting June 12.

The Downey Police Department currently contracts with Titan and United on a month-to-month basis but is seeking a two-year agreement.

The city put out a call for bids last November, drawing responses from eight local tow operators.

The police department evaluated, rated and ranked the proposals and settled on Titan and United, which are both based in Downey.

Other tow companies that submitted a bid were H.P. Automotive and Tow, of Huntington Park; Long Beach Towing and Storage; Viertel's Central Division, of Los Angeles; United Motor Club, of South Gate; Vernola's Tow, of Norwalk; and Walt's Tow Service, based in South Gate.

The Downey Police Department impounds about 1,000 vehicles each year. Impounds typically occur due to parking violations ("No Stopping Zones"), expired registration more than six months past due and when a driver has five or more unpaid parking citations.

Vehicles can also be impounded if they were involved in a crime or if the driver is arrested.

Downey Police previously impounded up to 2,400 vehicles annually until 2006, when the state made it more difficult to impound a car.

The drop in impounds put a local tow company out of business.

"The impact (drop in impounds) on the franchise tow operators was also dramatic, contributing to one of the three towing companies being used by the Department to file for bankruptcy in 2010," police chief Rick Esteves wrote in a report to the City Council.

The proposed contracts with Titan and United - if approved June 12 - would go into effect July 1 and expire June 30, 2014.

According to the deal, Downey would receive 20 percent of each tow operator's gross revenues for services provided to the city.

Esteves projected Downey would receive about $51,000 annually.

Downey Police rely on tow operators to store and impound vehicles for investigations, evidence "or other lawful purpose," to remove vehicle debris from accident scenes and more.

********** Published: May 24, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 06