04-037-O

ORDINANCE NO. __________

AN ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 33, ARTICLE XVII, OF THE DULUTH CITY CODE, 1959, AS AMENDED, REGULATING WRECKER SERVICES.

BY COUNCILOR LITTLE:

The city of Duluth does ordain:

Section 1. That Article XVII of Chapter 33 of the Duluth City Code, 1959, as amended, be amended to read as follows:

Article XVII. Wrecker Service.

Sec. 33-245. Definitions.

Except as is hereinafter provided, words and phrases shall have the meaning as ascribed to them by Article I of this Chapter:

Chief of police. The chief of police of the city of Duluth or such person or persons as he shall designate.

Accident. Any occurrence causing any damage to any motor vehicle which results from the motion of one or more vehicles.

Disabled vehicle. Any vehicle involved in an accident, any vehicle illegally standing or stopping when the owner or person in control of vehicle is not present and any vehicle when the owner or person in control of it is not able or is not permitted to drive, if peace officers at the scene determine that there is an apparent need to move such vehicle by wrecker.

Emergency wrecker service. The business of offering service to disabled vehicles and other vehicles by means of a motor vehicle at the request of the chief of police.

Wrecker rotation list. Any list of licensed wrecker services maintained by the chief of police as provided for in this Article.

Heavy duty wrecker. A wrecker for towing heavier vehicles which is constructed on a 2-1/2 ton or heavier chassis and which has a boom capacity of 32,000 pounds or greater, single or double line capacity.

Flat bed wrecker. A wrecker that tows vehicles on a flat bed carrier contained on the chassis of the wrecker.

Summoned or summoned by the chief of police. An act or acts of communication initiated by the chief of police or any member or employee of the Duluth police department for the purpose of obtaining emergency wrecker service for the benefit of the city, or for the benefit of any other person or legal entity.

Secured indoor storage. A vehicle storage area that is indoors, heated, segregated, and capable of being locked and secured so that a single vehicle stored therein can only be accessed, touched, or affected by a person controlled and authorized by the chief of police, and so an accurate record can be kept of each access to the vehicle, and so that evidence in or on the vehicle is not disturbed, tainted, or destroyed during storage.

Sec. 33-246. License required.

No person shall provide or offer to provide emergency wrecker service within the city without being licensed in accordance with this Article, except that persons summoned by the owner or operator of a disabled vehicle or his agent need not be licensed.

Sec. 33-247. License application; renewal; insurance.

(a)Any applicant desiring to engage in the business of an emergency wrecker service in the city shall file with the city clerk a written application upon a form provided by the city clerk. Such application shall contain the name and address of the principal place of business, the telephone number of the wrecker service, the number and types of wreckers to be operated, the license numbers of all vehicles to be used to provide emergency wrecker service, the name, address and telephone number of the true owner of the company concerned, the address of the storage lot where towed vehicles will be stored, the towing zone in which the business will be operating, and any other information the city clerk or chief of police may require;
(b) Each applicant shall submit with the application proof of insurance coverage consisting of a public liability insurance policy and garage keeper's liability policy issued by an insurance company authorized to do business in the state of Minnesota naming the city as an additional insured and insuring the public from any loss or damage which may arise to any person or property by reason of the operation of a wrecker service or vehicle of such service and providing that the amount of recovery on each vehicle used in a wrecker service shall be limited to no less than the following sums:
(1) For damages arising out of bodily injuries to or death of one person in any one accident - $100,000 $300,000;
(2) For damages arising out of bodily injuries to or death of two or more persons in any one accident - $300,000 $750,000;
(3) For injury to or destruction of property in any one accident - $100,000 $750,000;
(4) Garage keeper's legal liability insurance - $15,000 $50,000;
(c) Every policy referred to in Subdivision (b) above shall contain an endorsement providing for 30 days' notice to the city clerk of the city of Duluth in the event of any material change or cancellation of such policy.

Sec. 33-248. Fees; issuance; investigation; lien waiver.

(a) Each application shall be referred by the city clerk to the chief of police for investigation of the applicant, the applicant's equipment, and the applicant's garage and storage facilities. After completion of the investigation, the chief of police shall report to the city clerk whether the applicant and the applicant's equipment and storage facilities are appropriate for the conduct of an emergency wrecker service business;
(b) The city clerk shall issue a license to all qualified applicants which shall expire on June 30 of each year. No license shall be assignable or transferable. No license shall be issued unless the requirements of this Article are met;
(c) The annual fee for emergency wrecker service license shall be set in accordance with Section 31-6(a) of this Code for each business;
(d) Each applicant shall accompany its application with current inspection certificates required by the state of Minnesota certifying that all wreckers to be used are in good operating condition;
(e) The fees specified are payable at the time of application and no refund of fees shall be made except that the annual license fee for the wrecker service shall be refunded if a license application or renewal application is rejected. No proration of fees shall be made.;
(f) As a condition of the license, and a requirement of this ordinance, each licensee agrees that it shall not impose or exercise any right of possession or lien, including any right under MSA  514.18, or its successor, on any property that is not owned by the owner or possessor of the vehicle and is contents not attached to the vehicle when the licensee comes into possession of that property as a result of being summoned by the chief of police.

Secs. 33-249 to 33-250. Repealed by Ordinance No. 9031, 6-17-1991, 9.

Sec. 33-251. License--revocation, suspension and disapproval of application.

(a) The following shall be grounds for the chief of police to revoke, suspend or disapprove of the application for any license issued under the provisions of this Article:
(1) Filing false information on an application;
(2) Failing to inform the city clerk of changes in required information within ten days of such change;
(3) Failure to have an insurance policy as required in this Article in force;
(4) Charging more than the rates allowed under this Article, or having done so in the past;
(5) Evading or attempting to evade the wrecker service fee limitations of this Article by providing services or performing acts not reasonably necessary under the circumstances;
(6) Violation by the licensee applicant or by any employee thereof of any provision of this Article;
(7) Use by the licensee of any trade name for his wrecker service other than the one registered with the city clerk or operating any wrecker service vehicle without the name of the proper wrecker service posted in the directed manner on such vehicle or with the name of another wrecker service appearing in place of the proper name;
(8) Two or more violations by a licensee or his employees of traffic laws of the city of Duluth or the state of Minnesota while furnishing wrecker services within one year;
(9) Soliciting business at the scene of an accident;
(10)Providing service which manifests a substantial lack of care or competence, or both, in the provision of wrecker service;
(11)Failure to respond to the scene of an accident at the request of the chief of police or failure to respond to the scene of an accident within 20 minutes of being summoned by the chief of police;
(12)Failure or refusal, when requested or summoned by the chief of police, to tow a disabled vehicle from a zone where the service is on the rotation list;
(13)Failure to clean up debris left at the scene of an accident when responding to the chief of police's request to tow a disabled vehicle at such scene;
(14)Failure to allow a rightful claimant of a towed vehicle to regain control of it within one hour of receipt of a request therefor, whether in person, in writing or by telephone, providing that appropriate payments are tendered;
(15)Failure to have or properly maintain any equipment or storage facilities , including secured indoor storage, required by this Article.

Sec. 33-252. Repealed by Ordinance No. 9031, 6-17-1991, 9.

Sec. 33-253. License--appeal.

(a) The owner or operator of an emergency wrecker service may appeal the denial of a license or the suspension or revocation of his license by filing notice with the city clerk within ten days of receipt of his notice of refusal in issue, suspension or revocation. The filing of such appeal shall stay a revocation or suspension until a hearing is held by the chief of police. The chief of police shall thereupon hold a hearing as soon as is reasonably possible and shall make a written determination of the propriety of such refusal, suspension or revocation, a copy of which shall be filed with the city clerk and a copy of which shall be sent to such owner or operator at the last address appearing on his license application;
(b) Within ten days of notice of an adverse decision by the chief of police, the owner or operator of such service may file a written appeal to the city council with the city clerk, which appeal shall state specific grounds for such appeal. The filing of such appeal shall stay a suspension or revocation until the council renders a decision on such appeal. The city council shall, within 30 days, grant a hearing to consider the action taken by the chief of police. As a result of such hearing the city council, by resolution, may sustain, reverse or modify the action appealed. Such decision of the city council shall be final.

Sec. 33-254. License--display.

Any license issued pursuant to this Article shall be posted and kept in a conspicuous place in the licensee's principal place of business.

Sec. 33-255. Repealed by Ordinance No. 9031, 6-17-1991, 9.

Sec. 33-256. Vehicle storage facilities, vehicle retention.

All Each wrecker services shall provide sufficient off street parking in a secure fenced lot with secure, locked access to accommodate all vehicles to which they render and intend to render service. Each wrecker service shall have a facility that can provide secured indoor storage suitable for use by the police department for storage and processing of evidence of a crime so that it can be used in a court of law. No wrecker service shall permit vehicles to which they render or intend to render service to be parked on any street. Each wrecker service shall store vehicles at one storage lot or facility only and that storage lot or facility shall be located in the city of Duluth state of Minnesota within 15 miles from Duluth City Hall. No storage lot shall be used by more than one wrecker service. All Each storage lots shall provide reasonable security for vehicles, shall be maintained in an orderly manner and kept free of unnecessary debris, and shall be designed and surfaced for proper drainage so that the storage area is reasonably free of mud. If requested by the police, a vehicle shall be stored in a secured indoor storage facility in an enclosed building with heat, electricity and a concrete or paved floor.

Sec. 33-257. Wrecker vehicle equipment.

Any vehicle intended to be used for the offering of wrecker service shall be submitted to persons inspecting on behalf of the city to determine compliance with the following standards:
(a) Any vehicle intended to be used for providing emergency wrecker service, other than a flat bed wrecker or a heavy duty wrecker, shall comply with the following minimum requirements:
(1) Every such vehicle shall have a manufacturer-rated capacity of not less than one ton and be equipped with booster brakes;
(2) Each such vehicle shall be equipped with a power operated winch, 100 feet of winchline and boom with a factory-rated lifting capacity or tested capacity of not less than 8,000 pounds, single-line capacity;
(3) Each such vehicle shall carry as standard equipment a tow bar, towing dollies or a roll-back car hauler, safety chains, a fire extinguisher, a "state of the art" car door opener, a wrecking bar, a broom, a shovel, flares and a trash container;
(4) Each such vehicle and all of its equipment shall be in safe and good working condition;
(b) Any vehicle intended to be used as a heavy duty wrecker for providing emergency wrecker service shall be equipped as in Subdivision (a) above except:
(1) Each such vehicle shall have a manufacturer-rated capacity of not less than 2-1/2 tons;
(2) Each such vehicle shall be equipped with a power operated winch, winchline and boom with a factory-rated lifting capacity or tested capacity of not less than 32,000 pounds, single or double line capacity;
(3) No towing dollies need be carried;
(c) Any flat bed wrecker used for providing emergency wrecker service as in Subdivision (a) above except:
(1) The vehicle need not be equipped with a boom but shall be equipped with a snatchblock to facilitate the winching of vehicles;
(2) No towing dollies need be carried;
(d) Every vehicle proposed for use in offering wrecker services shall have the name and telephone number of the company owning such vehicle displayed in large, contrasting letters so as to be clearly visible upon both outside doors of such vehicle;
(e) Any vehicle proposed for use in offering wrecker services shall have emergency lights complying with standards of the state of Minnesota.

Sec. 33-258. Repealed by Ordinance No. 9031, 6-17-1991, 9.

Sec. 33-259. Emergency wrecker service.

An emergency wrecker service shall provide the following minimum services:
(a) Such service shall provide services with a wrecker or wreckers which meet the requirements of sections 33-257(a) and (c) and, where relevant, Section 33-257(b) of this Article;
(b) Such service shall provide 24 hour a day, seven day a week service;
(c) Such service shall come at all times when summoned by the chief of police to remove a disabled vehicle and, when summoned, shall remove such vehicle on all occasions;
(d) Such service's vehicles shall arrive at the scene of a disabled vehicle when summoned by the chief of police within a reasonable time after being summoned, such time not to exceed 20 minutes;
(e) Such services shall, upon the request of any peace officer, store any vehicle in a secured indoor storage facility which is inside a building which is reasonably weatherproof and secure for as long as is necessary to complete any police investigation of such vehicle;
(f) If the chief of police directs that any vehicle be towed to any location other than a storage location normally used by the wrecker service providing such service, such wrecker service shall deposit such vehicle as directed; provided that if services provided pursuant to such direction would justify additional charges under this Article, the chief of police shall pay such charges;
(g) When summoned by the chief of police, the maximum fee for services rendered shall be as follows:
(1) $70 $90 for all towing of disabled vehicles from one location in the city to another, or to a lot maintained outside the city by the service;
(2) $20 additional when the vehicle requires dollying or a flat bed wrecker or when a flat bed wrecker is required by the police;
(3)(2) $60 per hour for towing a vehicle which requires heavy duty wrecker equipment from one location in the city to another, or to the service's lot maintained outside of the city, unless a higher rate is authorized by the chief because of special circumstances;
(4)(3) $12 $20 per each 24 hours for storage of towed vehicles, up to a maximum of 25 days;
(5)(4) If the vehicle to be towed is off of the roadway and requires more than 20 feet of winching, $17.50 $20 for each 15 minutes that the wrecker's winch is in operation;
(h) Licensee shall, if requested, return disabled release towed vehicles to their rightful claimants 24 hours per day, seven days per week on at least an on-call basis;
(i) No fees shall be charged if a licensee tows a vehicle from one location to another for its own purposes;
(j) In the event that the chief of police deems it reasonably necessary in his sole discretion to use more than one wrecker vehicle to safely provide required emergency wrecker service to a disabled vehicle, he may authorize said use in which case the effected service may charge up to the maximum rates set forth above for each authorized wrecker vehicle used.
(k) When an emergency wrecker service is summoned by the chief of police and, as a result, performs services for a fee, the emergency wrecker service shall pay a fee, set by resolution, to the city of Duluth.

Sec. 33-260. Providing of fee schedule required.

Before requesting or receiving payment for services rendered, the licensee shall provide the person charged with a complete written schedule of maximum fees allowed to be charged under this Chapter. The chief of police must approve such schedule before it can be used.

Sec. 33-261. Wrecker rotation list.

(a) The chief of police shall call only emergency wrecker services as provided herein when the police department requires wrecker service in the course of duty;
(b) The chief of police is hereby empowered to partition the city into zones for the furnishing of emergency wrecker service and to establish a wrecker service rotation list for each such zone. Any licensed emergency wrecker service may have its name placed in the rotation list for each and any zone it desires. When emergency wrecker service is to be provided, the chief of police shall call the first service on the rotation list for the zone involved. When a service has been called, its name shall be placed last on the rotation list involved;
(c) The chief of police is further empowered to divide the city into zones for the provision of emergency wrecker service in those cases requiring the use of a heavy duty wrecker, and to establish a wrecker service rotation list for each such zone for use in such cases. Any licensed emergency wrecker service having a heavy duty wrecker may have its name placed on such rotation list for each and any zone it desires. When emergency wrecker service is to be provided by a heavy duty wrecker, the chief of police shall call the first service on the appropriate rotation list for the zone involved. When a service has been called its name shall be placed last on the rotation list involved;
(d) The chief of police shall keep records of all calls made for emergency wrecker services under the provisions of this Article which shall be public records;
(e) In case of emergency when the chief of police shall determine that the public convenience and necessity requires it, the chief of police may depart from the strict rotation of emergency wrecker lists for the duration of such emergency and call any licensed wrecker service or, in the case of a need for secured indoor storage, call the next wrecker service on the list which has a sufficient facility, at his discretion. A record of such departure together with the reason therefor shall be maintained with the record referred to in subparagraph (d) above.

Sec. 33-262. Exception to fees.

No emergency wrecker service summoned by the chief of police shall charge or receive any fee from any person or from the city where service is not actually provided. Any emergency wrecker service affected by this provision shall be placed first again on the appropriate wrecker call list.

Sec. 33-263. Driving wrecker to the scene of accident.

No person shall drive a wrecker, licensed or unlicensed, to the scene of an accident or collision on the streets of the city unless such person has been called summoned to the scene by the chief of police or has been requested by the owner or operator of a disabled vehicle or his agent.

Sec. 33-264. Soliciting wrecker business at the scene of accident prohibited; presence at scene is evidence of violation.

No person shall solicit in any manner, directly or indirectly, on the streets of the city the business of towing any vehicle which is a disabled vehicle on the street regardless of whether the solicitation is for the purpose of soliciting the business of towing, removing, repairing, wrecking, storing, trading or purchasing such vehicle. Proof of the presence of any person engaged in providing wrecker service or the presence of any wrecker or motor vehicle owned or operated by any person engaged in providing wrecker service business, either as owner, operator, employee or agent, on any street in the city at or near the scene of an accident which has not been called to the scene by the chief of police within one hour after the happening of an accident, shall be prima facie evidence of a solicitation in violation of this Section.

Section 2. That this ordinance shall take effect and be in force 30 days from and after its passage and publication.


STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:  This amendment changes the regulation of wreckers that tow vehicles at the request of the police. Major changes are: better defines when a wrecker is summoned by police; better defines what type of secured storage is required; increases insurance coverage limit; requires the touring company to return property in a towed car that is not owned by the car's owner or driver; increases the maximum charge for towing from $70 to $90, and for storage from $8 to $12, with a maximum of 25 days.