Senate Bill 117 would require towers to receive written, signed authority from a parking facility’s owner or agent before towing.
The bill prohibits vehicles from being towed unless a sign in plain view prohibits or restricts public parking.
It requires towers to release vehicles that have been hooked up, but not yet towed, if an owner or driver is present, although they can charge a hookup fee if the hookup is complete.
And it requires towers to provide vehicle owners or operators with a photograph of the vehicle illegally parked on request.
The bill passed Monday on a unanimous vote with nine members excused.
Senate Bill 488 aims to protect victims of auto theft, who can face steep towing and storage fees to get recovered vehicles back.
It requires that law enforcement agencies provide towers with the vehicle owner’s contact information, and specifies that fees for storage cannot accrue until the tower first attempts notification.
The process currently takes about 30 days and can leave owners owing more money to the tower than the vehicle is worth.
The bill also allows the owner of a stolen vehicle that is totaled to transfer the vehicle’s title to the towing company in full or partial payment of towing fees.
“It helps minimize the harm and costs to victims of car theft whose cars are towed at no fault of their own,” said Rep. Andy Olson, R-Albany, who carried the bill.
It passed unanimously Tuesday with four members excused.
Oregon’s Department of Justice received 131 written complaints about towers in 2016.
In 2009, the Legislature passed a law that requires tow truck operators to take a photo of the vehicle showing it parked in violation before towing. They can only monitor lots, or sit in wait for violators, if the hours during which monitoring occurs are clearly posted in the lot. And they must release a vehicle before towing if the owner is present, charging only the hook-up fee.
In 2013 the Legislature passed a law allowing cities and counties to regulate towing if they choose. Portland, Gresham and Tualatin regulate tows from private lots.