To Be Towed, or Not To Be Towed


by Michelle Wahl, CAPP

The City of Bloomington, within the last year, implemented a new towing policy which is quite different than what this community has experienced in the past.   The division has been extremely successful in the implementation of these practices.   We now have a very straightforward process that has been vetted not only with our Parking Commission but through our council.

This process took over a year to prepare and six months to present to various administrators (through the COVID period) for final approval and ordinance change.    We currently tow for the following violations:

  • Parked in a Reserved Space
  • Abandoned Vehicle
  • Outstanding Citations

Once all approvals were finalized with the City administration, the parking administration met with all the contracted tow companies at the beginning of the approval process to make sure they were aware of the new changes. City of Bloomington towing officially commenced in June 2023.

The four steps that were taken that I believe had the most impact

  1. The program was rolled out program during the summer months to get our footing and work out any issues with our new towing practices.
  2. We had a press release go out to the community that shared the new towing practices and when they would be initiated.
  3. We also had two pages dedicated on our website to explain our towing practices and the steps they need to take to retrieve their vehicle.
  4. Lastly, the Parking Service Division sent out 2,500 emails and 6,000 letters to everyone in our parking database who ever had a parking citation, paid or unpaid, to let them know towing has now commenced.

It has been my professional parking experience of more than 20 years that no matter how well you communicate, parkers will comply or not.  Our policy is clean and clear.  We know that every towing practice decision we make now sets a precedent for future encounters with other tows.

The most important thing for this to be successful is communication with the city’s legal, police department, mayor’s office, towing vendors, parking commission, and parkers.  Making sure you have all players at the table to discuss the dynamics of towing vehicles.

So now it is up to the scofflaws to be towed or not be towed!

Michelle L. Wahl, CAPP, is the Parking Services Director for the City of Bloomington, IN. She can be reached at