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TOW CAR FIRM RULES AND REGULATIONS

OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF POLICE

San Francisco Police Department

TOW CAR FIRM RULES AND REGULATIONS

I. AUTHORITY

These Tow Car Firm Rules and Regulations are adopted pursuant to the authority granted to

the Chief of Police by Section 3061 of the San Francisco Police Code.

II. DEFINITIONS

A. TOW CAR FIRM: Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, or any other group

or combination acting as a unit, except the United States, the State of California, and any

political subdivision of either thereof, engaged in the business of transporting, removing, or

storage of motor vehicles. This definition includes the owner or operator of any tow car.

B. TOW CAR: A motor vehicle that has been altered or designed and equipped for, or

exclusively used in, the business of towing vehicles by means of a crane, hoist, tow bar,

tow line, or dolly, or is otherwise exclusively used to render assistance to other vehicles, and

as defined in Section 615 of the California Vehicle Code.

C. TOW CAR OPERATOR: Any person who operates a tow car in the City and County of

San Francisco.

III. RULES AND REGULATIONS

A. SIGNS AND RECORDS

1. A tow car firm shall post a sign that identifies the tow car firm’s name, address, phone

number and hours of operation in a conspicuous place, in front of the tow car firm’s

business location, and each location where the tow car firm stores towed motor vehicles.

2. A tow car firm shall maintain a current roster of all tow car operators working for or on

behalf of the tow car firm at the tow car firm’s principal place of business, and at each

location where the tow car firm stores towed motor vehicles. The list shall include the

tow car operator’s name, driver’s license number, and Police Department tow car

operator permit number. The tow car firm shall make a copy of this list available for

inspection and copying by any SFPD officer at any time.

3. A tow car firm shall maintain a current list of all tow cars under the control of, or being

used on behalf of, the tow car firm at the tow car firm’s principal place of business, and at

each location where the tow car firm stores towed motor vehicles. The list shall include

each tow car’s year, make, model, license plate, vehicle identification number, and

service and inspection record. The tow car firm shall make a copy of this list available for

inspection and copying by any SFPD officer at any time.

4. A tow car firm shall maintain, at its principal place of business, copies of all contracts or

leases for each location where the tow car firm operates its business, or where it stores

towed motor vehicles. The tow car firm shall make copies of those agreements available

for inspection and copying by any SFPD officer at any time.

5. On the written authorization required under Section 22658 (1)(A) of the California

Vehicle Code, in addition to the information required under Section 22658 (1)(1)(B),

the tow car firm shall require all tow car operators working for or on behalf of the tow

car firm to record the current odometer reading of the motor vehicle being removed,

unless the tow car operator cannot read the odometer. If the tow car operator cannot read

the odometer, he or she shall include on the written authorization facts describing the

basis for the inability to read the odometer.

6. Every tow car firm shall keep at its principal place a business records regarding every

motor vehicle the tow car firm tows or stores (“tow records”)

(a) The tow record shall contain the date, time and location from which a motor vehicle

was removed; the make, model, color, and license of the vehicle; and the vehicle

identification number of the vehicle unless it can not be read.

(b) All tow car firm shall make all tow records available for inspection and copying by

any SFPD officer within 24 hours of a request by any SFPD officer.

(c) All tow car firm shall maintain all tow records at the tow car firm’s principal place

of business for a minimum of three years from the date of the relevant tow(s).

7. Every tow car firm shall possess a valid and operational “Motor Carrier Permit” issued

by the State of California.

B. OPERATIONS

1. Any tow car firm that stores any motor vehicle removed from private property must have

a representative at the storage site where the vehicle was taken within forty-five (45)

minutes of notification by the party whose motor vehicle was towed. The tow car firm

representative shall remain on-site at the storage facility until the party has retrieved his

or her motor vehicle.

2. Any tow car firm must maintain a working telephone number that is accessible to the public

24 hours per day 7 days a week. All tow car firms shall ensure that a “live” person (one who

can assist the caller), answers the phone 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

3. When a tow car firm removes a motor vehicle parked on public or private property, the tow

car firm must remove the motor vehicle to the nearest garage or storage facility under the

tow car firm’s control within the City and County of San Francisco, unless otherwise

approved by the Chief of Police.

4. Every tow car firm shall ensure that each garage and storage facility used to store towed

vehicles is sufficiently illuminated to (1) be easily identifiable from the street, and (2)

provide for the safe retrieval of stored vehicles.

5. If a tow car firm shares a garage or storage facility with another tow car firms or other

business, the tow car firm shall ensure that the garage or storage space use by the tow car

firm is physically separated and secured from the space used by the other business(es).

6. A tow car firm shall ensure that all tow car operators responding to calls for or on behalf

of the tow car firm are qualified and competent employees of the tow car firm. The tow car

firm shall ensure that all tow car operators responding to calls for or on behalf of the tow

car firm are fully licensed and proficient in the use of the tow car and related equipment,

including but not limited to the procedures for the safe towing and recovery of the type of

vehicle being towed/recovered.

7. A tow car firm shall ensure that all tow car operators responding to calls for or on behalf

or the tow car firm take a customer only to the customer’s requested location, and do not

misdirect or take any customer to a different location.

8. A tow car firm may not transfer, assign or allow another person or business, including

another tow car firm or tow car operator, to use or conduct business using a permit the

Chief of Police issued to the tow car firm. A tow car operator may not transfer, assign or

allow another person or business, including another tow car firm or tow car operator, to

use or conduct business using a permit the Chief of Police issued to the tow car operator.

9. All tow car operators shall be at least eighteen (18) years of age, and possess the appropriate

and valid California driver’s license necessary to operate a tow car.

10. Every tow car firm owner and operator and every tow car operator shall give written notice

to the San Francisco Police Department Permit Section within (10) days of any change of

employment, business or residential address or telephone numbers.

11. No tow car firm or tow car operator may park or leave standing any tow car for a period in

excess of two hours on any street in the City and County of San Francisco.

12. A tow car firm is responsible for the safekeeping all vehicles that the tow car firm or tow

car operators working for or on behalf of the tow car firm tow or store, including the

contents of those vehicles. A tow car firm is responsible for preventing vandalism to any

vehicle that the tow car firm or tow car operators working for or on behalf of the tow car

firm tow or store.

13. A tow car firm shall ensure that all towed vehicles are stored in a location that is NOT

plainly visible from any public right of way.

C. INSPECTIONS

1. All tow car firms shall make all tow cars under the control of or used by the tow car firm

available for an annual inspection when requested by the Chief of Police, or the Chief’s designee.

The Chief of Police or designee shall conduct the inspections. The tow car firm shall pay for all

tow car inspections. The Chief of Police may accept a California Highway Patrol or California

State Automobile Association annual inspection report in lieu of the San Francisco Police

Department’s inspection. A tow car firm’s failure to comply with a request for inspection shall

be good cause for the Chief of Police to suspend, revoke, or refusal to renew the tow car firm’s

permit. .

2. If at any time the Chief of Police or the Chief’s designee reasonably determines that a certified

mechanic or technician needs to inspect the mechanical condition or equipment of a tow car, the

Chief of Police or the Chief’s designee may order the tow car removed from service until a

certified mechanic or technician inspects the tow car and provides a statement of finding to the

Police Department. The tow car must be reinspected and approved by the Chief of Police or the

Chief’s designee to ensure compliance before the tow car firm may return the tow car to service.

The tow car firm that controls or uses any tow car needing this type of inspection is responsible

for any expenses incurred.

3. A tow car firm may not place a tow car into service until the Chief of Police or the Chief’s

designee has inspected and approved the tow car.

(a) When a tow car firm stops controlling or using a tow car, the tow car firm shall remove the

tow car from the tow car firm’s list of operational tow cars, and shall give notice to the Chief of

Police or the Chief’s designee within fifteen (15) calendar days.

4. A tow car firm shall ensure that each tow car under the control of or used by a tow car firm has

affixed to the rear window, lower left corner, a certification sticker issued by the Chief of Police.

E. D. COMPLAINTS AND INVESTIGATIONS

1. Each tow car firm shall ensure that each business or storage location used by the tow car

firm and each tow car controlled or used by the tow car firm has a supply of complaint

cards approved by the Chief of Police. Each tow car firm and tow car operator shall give

a complaint card to any person on request.

2. Every tow car firm owner, tow car firm permittee, or tow car operator must respond to

SFPD inquiries within two calendar days.

F. E. INSURANCE COVERAGE

1. Each tow car firm shall maintain in force insurance in the coverages and amounts specified

below:

(a) Comprehensive general liability insurance with limits not less than $1,000,000 for

each occurrence, combined single limit for bodily injury and property damage, or in

such greater amount and limits as the Chief of Police may reasonable require from

time to time, including coverage for personal injury, broadform property damage,

products and completed operations, mobile equipment, and sudden and accidental

pollution.

(b) Comprehensive or business automobile liability insurance with limits not less than

$1,000,000 for each occurrence combined single limit for bodily injury and property

damage, including coverage for owned, non-owned and hired tow cars, as applicable,

and for sudden and accidental pollution.

(c) Garage-keeper’s legal liability insurance with limits not less than $1,000,000 for each

occurrence combined single limit for loss and damage to vehicles in tow firm’s care,

custody or control caused by fire, explosion, theft, riot, civil commotion, malicious

mischief, vandalism or collision.

(d) “On-hook” limit of $100,000 for vehicle being towed.

(e) Uninsured motorist insurance with limits not less than $1,000,000 for each

occurrence combined with each person.

(f) Workers’ Compensation insurance, including Employers’ Liability, not less than

the legal minimum requirement for each accident, covering all employed by the

tow car firm to provide statutory benefits as required by laws of the State of

California.

2. Any deductibles in policies listed above shall not exceed $1,000 for each occurrence.

3. All policies shall be endorsed to provide thirty (30) days advance written notice to the

City and County of San Francisco Police Department of the cancellation, non-renewal or

reduction in coverage, mailed to the following address:

City and County of San Francisco

San Francisco Police Permit Section

850 Bryant Street, Room 458

San Francisco, CA 94103

F. PENALTIES

A violation of these Rules and Regulations by a tow car firm, any employee or agent of a

tow car firm, or by a tow car operator, is cause for suspension revocation or the denial of

renewal of a tow car permit and may be cause for the filing of a civil action by the San

Francisco City Attorney’s Office or the filing of criminal charges by the San Francisco

Police Department or the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

G. SEVERABILITY

If any section, subsection, subdivision, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of

these Tow Car Rules and Regulations or any part thereof, is for any reason held to be

invalid or ineffective, such decision shall not affect the validity or effectiveness of the

remaining portions of these Tow Car Rules and Regulations, or any part thereof. The Chief

of Police hereby declares that he or she would have adopted and promulgated each section,

subsection, subdivision, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase thereof, irrespective of the

fact that any one or more sections, subsections, subdivisions, paragraphs, sentences,

clauses or phrases are declared invalid or ineffective.

George Gascon Adopted 1997

Chief of Police (amended May 24, 2010)

Last updated: 5/26/2010 10:17:55 AM