State Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-46), who proposed legislation last session that would have preempted Seattle's proposed $157 cap on towing rates charged by private companies, capping the rate statewide at the much higher rate of $270, had kind words for city council member Nick Licata's legislation capping impound rates at $180 for the first hour, and $130 for each subsequent hour.
In a statement released by Licata, Pollet said, “This is a major step forward for protecting Seattle residents. It’s encouraging that the towing industry recognizes that there are some companies whose charges were abusive, and I look forward to working with the industry and Seattle to expand this protection statewide.”
Red flag, though: Expand this protection statewide? Is that coded language for preempting Seattle's lower towing rates again? Near the end of last session, Pollet agreed to give Seattle a special exemption to the cap, but complained that Seattle's lack of clarity about what they wanted ultimately helped to kill the bill.
So here's our question for Pollet: Will you propose legislation next session that will again preempt Seattle's ability to set maximum towing rates lower than the state minimum?
"I don’t know what the fee level will be, but we need to have statewide legislation, and I'm getting mixed signals about where the towing industry is in regard to whether they're going to accept [the city's proposed cap] or not. I think that they put out a message that they may sue over this. ...
"The city asked us for, and we were negotiating, a special carve-out for the city of Seattle during the session, and it boiled down to whether or not having a lower cap could be justified by geography and the cost structure of the industry. ...
"There's nothing off the table about having a statewide protection and having the city's ordinance stay in effect at the same time. It is all about negotiation and what the industry is willing to accept.
"We need a state law because we’ve got a lot of other people in the state other than Seattleites who have suffered the same problem.".