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Towing policy under review

"There is a gentlemen (Nichols) making a lot of allegations that I take kickbacks, and that is a lie that does not happen," said Joseph Garland, general manger of Lake Shore Park, Valley View and Village One apartments. All three complexes have towing contracts with Joe's Osborne Street Garage. And all three are experiencing the same towing problems, said Nichols.

"Parking has always been a problem so we have an aggressive tow policy, and it's in the lease," Garland said.

The tow regulations were formed to meet increased violations, he said. Many tenants had been complaining about lack of spaces and cars taking up two spots or parking in fire lanes. For the most part, many tenants at his complexes are happy with the regulations, he said, adding that it is the ones who violate them who are having problems.

The agreement with Joe's is that all towing is conducted under those regulations, Garland said.

The agreement also outlines the need for photos of the infractions. If there are no photos, said Garland, then there are no fines, and that has happened three times in the past three years. The allegations of cars being towed for "touching" divider lines doesn't happen, he said.

Workers at Joe's Osborne Street Garage, which is off of Catherine Street in Albany, declined to comment. One of the tow trucks was parked in front. Attempts to reach garage owner Joseph Gimondo were unsuccessful.

Garland said he chose to contract with Gimondo over nearby towing facilities because the garage's vehicle storage capacity is better able to handle the numbers of vehicles being towed from the three apartment complexes.

The legislation Nichols is introducing seeks to restrict towing companies from towing vehicles from private parking lots. The law also seeks to ban any kickbacks of fee-splitting schemes, limit the distance between parking lots and designated points of vehicle pickup, as well as additional notification of parking lot rules.

If approved, violation of the law would be an unclassified misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of not less than $5,000 and no more then $10,000 and/or up to one year in jail. ""

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