Finding a parking spot in Ann Arbor is aggravating.

Christina Choi
A car parked at Triangle Towing on Hiscock Street. Triangle Towing has a contract with the city to tow illegally parked cars. (JEREMY CHO/Daily)

Until you get a parking ticket. Then, it’s even worse.

You may want to toss away the $15 fine for parking next to an expired meter. But that approach is risky. If your vehicle accumulates six or more unpaid parking tickets – or you leave your car in a no-parking zone – the city can tow it.

The city doesn’t tow vehicles directly.

Instead, the city has contracts with three private towing companies to each cover a third of the city. The city renews these contracts every two years after a bidding process.

When Ann Arbor police find a car parked in a no-parking zone or with six or more outstanding parking tickets, they notify the company responsible for that part of the city to have the vehicle towed.

This year, Sakstrup’s, Brewer’s and Triangle Towing have contracts to tow the cars impounded by the Ann Arbor Police Department.

Chuck Judson, the general managers of Brewer’s, said students can expect to pay a hefty fee to get their car out of the Brewer’s impound lot once it has been towed.

The city contract allows a tower to charge an impound fee as well as an additional fee for storage on a daily basis – both of which must be paid directly to the towing company.

Judson said Brewer’s charges a $95 impound fee, a $20 storage feeand $55 more if dollies are needed to tow the car.

The city charges a $60 administrative fee and requires the car owner to pay outstanding fines before releasing the car from the impound lot.

Judson wouldn’t say how much profit the company makes from each car towed.

He said the company usually charges $42 to attach the car to the tow truck then $3.50 per mile to tow the car to a nearby garage.

That means it would cost about $50 to have Brewer’s tow a car two miles from State Street and Hill Street to the company’s office on Plymouth Road if you hired them to do it for you.

But it would cost at least $115, plus the $60 dollar fee to the city, to recover a car from Brewer’s impound lot if the city had them tow it the same distance.

That’s an extra $65 out of your pocket and into the towing company’s.

The lesson: watch where you park – at least after you rack up five parking tickets.

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