Community, Local Business, Local Politics

Gardendale to Toughen Stance on Towing After Weekend Incident

Following an incident over the weekend where a Gardendale High School student-athlete’s car was towed after parking across the street from the location of the GHS Basketball Team’s Fundraiser Car Wash in a spot at Fluffy Friends in a shopping center off Fieldstown Rd., city leaders responded quickly in addressing the sign and incident.

Photo: Herald staff.

The “No Parking. Loading and Unloading Only” sign hung on the window of the pet grooming business, but did not state that a car would be towed or what towing company or number to call if a car was towed. Parking spaces in front of the sign were not striped as a loading zone.

Questions centered around whether a business can tow a car of a citizen by placing a sign that doesn’t clearly state that the car can be towed and who to call to get the car if towed.

A police source told The Herald that the police would not have the authorization to tow a car parked in a shopping center under the same situation as the incident occurred.

On the morning of Wednesday, October 25th, after discussions with the building owner and the business owner, Mayor Stan Hogeland instructed the Gardendale Building Inspector Blake Castleberry to immediately remove the sign from the business.

Mayor Hogeland, in responding to a request from The Herald for his thoughts on the events surrounding the towing incident and what to expect from the City moving forward, was passionate in his concern and steps Gardendale needs to take to make sure it does not happen again.

The Mayor’s response, in its entirety, is below:

“In this morning’s department head meeting I brought up the towing incident that occurred this weekend. After the meeting I instructed Blake Castleberry, Inspections Superintendent to remove the sign. He did so with concurrence from the store owner and shopping center owner.

We will now take a hard look at our sign ordinance to insure that any future, or current signage, that even hints at the possibility of a car being towed at owner expense, is properly placed and clearly worded warning visitors to their establishments.

In my 8 years as mayor, this is the first time that I’ve been made aware of a vehicle towed from any shopping center in Gardendale and a practice, in my opinion, that should be used only as a last resort in any small town, especially Gardendale.”

There is no information at this time as to whether the GHS student will be reimbursed by the store owner for the towing charge.