Montgomery Plaza in Fort Worth has began towing vehicles for the first time.
Parking problems have persisted in West Seventh Street's urban village.
Last Friday night, Mongtomery Plaza started towing the vehicles of people who parked there but were not customers or residents. Somerset Association Management, which owns the property, said the parking situation led to policy change.
“We had some complaints and concerns from existing businesses that came to us and said, ‘I’m having patrons complain that they can’t find a spot, that this isn’t working,’” Dustan Goodell, Somerset president.
Jimmy Moore, the owner of nearby 7th Haven Bar, posted a "car towing alert" on his marquee that warns patrons to shop and dine there "at your own risk."
“So long as they’re towing, I’m going to let them know they’re towing, and it’s going to hurt them,” he said.
Moore said Montgomery Plaza has the right to tow cars but doesn't like how it happened.
“The problem was, they put these towing signs up about a year ago and never enforced them, so people got used to parking there,” he said.
Moore took pictures of several of the 80 or so cars he says were towed last Friday night.
The photos show tow-truck drivers opening up car doors in order to tow the vehicles -- actions that could be illegal. The tow company has been fired, but Moore said he also is concerned that the threat of towing could hurt business.
“Once people start hearing towing's going on Seventh Street, they're going to quit coming to Seventh Street, so it’s going to hurt Montgomery Plaza just as much as it hurts everybody else," he said. "There's got to be another way to solve the problem.”
Moore’s business also has warning signs saying the parking lot is for customers only; granted, his have a humorous slant. He said he hasn’t had any cars towed but warns people or tells them to move.
Goodell said Mongtomery Plaza should have handled the change better because so many people got comfortable with parking there despite the clearly posted signs.
“We can’t undo the past, but we’re definitely committed to improving the future,” he said.
Goodell said his company will “educate and inform” patrons starting this weekend about the towing rules with fliers on cars and people personally telling patrons as they park.
Moore said he believes the zoning for the urban village helped lead to the parking situation and hopes something can be worked out.