Church Property Administrators: Knowing When It is Legal to Tow a Parked Vehicle

Part of managing church properties is making sure that there are no illegally parked cars in the church parking lot; or in the entrance to the property. Church Administrators have the authority toe have them towed or removed, but it is important for them to know towing laws in the perspective of both the church as th e property owner, and of the owner of the vehicle to be towed.

Parked vehicles in a private church parking lot can be towed without observing the one hour grace period, especially those without authorization and if there are proper signages everywhere. However, some church property administrators in California still continue to allow the one hour grace period to lapse before taking action because parking laws tend to vary in different municipalities.

That is why it is best to check local ordinances in their respective area first, since there are variations that tend to complicate matters. While the California Vehicle Code (CVC) specify laws related to lawful parking and what conditions are present before an illegally parked vehicle can be towed, local officials may have issued ordinances related to the enforcement of such rules.

Parking Laws According to the California Vehicle Code

In accordance with California Vehicle Code Section 22658(a), the owner of a private property can remove an unlawfully parked vehicle, and have it transferred to a storage facility; but subject to the following conditions and circumstances:

  • Signages are placed in all entrances of the property and in plain view of those entering the parking area, whilst indicating that the owner forbids public parking, which if violated will be give cause to remove the vehicle by towing.
  • All signages containing the prohibition against public parking is not less than 17 by 22 inches, while the lettering is also not less than one inch in height.
  • Every signage must include the local traffic law enforcement agency’s landline and also the name and landline number of every towing company that has been given authorization by the property owner.
  • The warning may also specify that a citation for the violation would also be issued.
  • The illegally parked vehicle on the private property does not have an engine, tires, doors, wheels, transmission, windshield, or any part of a major equipment needed to safely navigate the vehicle along highways.
  • The vehicle in question has been given a notice of parking violation and 96 hours have already passed since the notification. The 24 hours commences after the 96-hour life of the issued of notice.
  • The owner of the private property or his or her authorized personnel has informed the local traffic law enforcement agency about the planned action of towing the vehicle. .

California Vehicle Code Exceptions to 24-Hour Grace Period

The exceptions mentioned below refers to questions on whether the parked vehicle can be towed immediately without waiting for the one hour grace period to lapse. According to the CVC rules, the vehicle can be towed from a private property that allows public use, only if it has been illegally parked for at least one hour or 60 minutes; except in instances that the vehicle is:

  • Parked in spaces reserved for the disabled;
  • Parked within a distance of 15 feet near a fire hydrant, and
  • Parked in the entrance of a parking lot of the private church despite proper signs that forbids unauthorized parking; not unless the driver of the vehicle was give permission by an authorized church personnel.

In the City of San Jose, only towing companies authorized by the San Jose Police Department have the authority to tow a vehicle from a private property. San Jose church property administrators therefore should immediately check if their existing towing agreement is with a company that holds a permit issued by the police department, with regard to towing san jose illegally parked vehicles.