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Students becoming more interested in local government as a result of the predatory towing in Bloomington



Bloomington, Indiana – The forceful towing tactics used by Bloomington have drawn criticism, which is encouraging local students to get active in local government.

Shailey Desai, a student at IU, went to visit her friend and parked in what she believed to be a visiting spot. After a few hours, when she went back to her car, she saw that it had been towed. To get it back, she had to pay a fine of $170, which is what most towing agencies charge.

“If they want to prevent towing, they should make visitor parking more available, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t afford to uber all the time,” Desai said.

She declared that she thought towing businesses in the Bloomington region overcharged.

Similar instances motivated senior Connor Wright to run for District 3 on the Bloomington City Council in the next election. Wright asserted that given the size of the student population in Bloomington, the city needed student representation. Over 50 years have passed since District 3 last had a student representative. He would like to handle towing as one of the major transportation-related challenges.

“The term predatory towing means not just enforcement of parking regulations, but it’s going above that and seeking people who are violating rules just so they can tow and charge them,” Wright said.

The City of Bloomington Common Council added Title 4 on November 15, 2019, to address commercial private towing carried out by local businesses or organizations and to prohibit predatory towing and rules for enterprises that use non-consensual towing. Towing without consent is subject to licensing under the title. According to Chapter 4.32, regulating non-consensual towing can help avoid the problems that arise from predatory towing and promote municipal safety.

Wright claimed that the towing firm searches for parking infractions in his specific apartment complex every 15 to 20 minutes. He asserted that other towing organizations wait at businesses all day to look for towing offenses.

“There has never been a student on city council who was an active undergraduate,” city councilman Steve Volan said referring to Wright.

Due to the fact that students make up a higher portion of the population, Volan has been actively recruiting students to patriciate and participate in local governance. Wright wants to introduce stricter rules on towing businesses and educate students about their rights when being towed in the city if he is elected.

“I was so frustrated by the inequity of parking options for renters in the city and the lack of student voices on our city’s parking commission, I personally asked students to apply when there were vacancies on the city’s parking commission in 2022,” said Natalia Galvan, President of the Monroe County Chapter of the National Organization for Women.

Galvan’s main goal is to engage IU’s freshmen in local affairs, particularly those that affect the city or county. One of the primary issues she hears IU students in the region complain about is parking and towing. She works with numerous students in the area.

The IU Parking Appeals Committee and the City of Bloomington Parking Commission both have two students that are actively participating.

“Building parking is incredibly expensive, so when people ask where they can park, it really depends on where they’re going and what time of day,” said Volan.


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