There are many businesses within Kingston and St Andrew and insufficient parking spots, which usually translates into an extra expense to doing business because of the limited options that are available,
The motorist can either 'squeeze' the man on the roadside $50 or $100 to 'protect' his or her vehicle and its contents, park at one of the Urban Development Commission or Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) parking lots (which are sometimes packed anyway), or take a chance and grab a spot at the side of the road, sometimes risking your vehicle being towed.
If the last is the option and the motorist is in an area regularly visited by tow trucks, then off to the pound you may have to go to fork out $4,000 for cars and $5,500 for trucks (or pickups) - provided that you get to the pound before it closes for the day and the vehicle has to stay overnight.
While towing may be an added expense, there is also the possibility that it will be damaged. According to a representative at the Superintendent of Traffic Enforcement Department of the KSAC, compensation for damage to the vehicle would have to be sought from the contracted wrecking company, as the wreckers are not owned by the KSAC. And this is after an investigation is done to ascertain the legitimacy of the claim.
The parking areas allowed on the street are differentiated from the no-parking areas by white and yellow paint, respectively. However, in some cases there is white paint and the vehicle is still seized. "Where you see white lines and vehicles are taken away, it is (because it is on the) corners and that's measured by distance. Vehicles are taken up for other offences under the Road Traffic Act. Sometimes you don't see the yellow line or the signs, but under the law vehicles can be taken up," the KSAC representative said.
There are times, though, when the motorist is quick on their feet and gets to the vehicle in a no-parking zone before it is hooked up to the tow truck. According to the representative, in that situation, the KSAC's policy is that the person should be issued with a $500 parking ticket by the traffic warden travelling with the wrecker crew and the driver be allowed to take possession of the vehicle.
However, if the motorist arrives after the tow truck is being hooked up to their vehicle, the crew is still obligated to take the vehicle to the pound.
Meters a long way off
Plans for a parking meter system which the KSAC was looking at to raise funds are, at best, a long way off. According to City Treasurer Naudia Crosskill, "It's still on the table. It has not been thrown out. It is still being discussed, but we are not really near execution as yet."
If your vehicle is towed, it is best that the motorist get it out out of the pound as quickly as possible, and it is not only because of mounting storage fees. "If nobody claims, then the council has the authority to do some kind of auction, but it would be after some period of time," Crosskill said.
Motorists have long taken issue publicly with the widescale towing of vehicles. In 2008, then Mayor of Kingston, Desmond McKenzie, placed a two-week suspension on the towing of vehicles to facilitate investigations into increased complaints from motorists about wrecker companies and their operation, as well as to upgrade signage to clearly reflect parking zones.