Towing in Baltimore City Requires Legislation

BCLexington StBWMI-07The south side of the 400 block of E. Lexington St. in Baltimore is designated a “Tow Away Zone” except for two curb-side EV charging spots. This came to my attention when a parking enforcement officer was examining the signs to determine if he had the authority to have a non plug-in car towed. The driver of that car received a ticket for blocking a charging station. I believe the officer said it was classified as a “code 99, all other parking violations” citation. I thought it was kind of odd that the two parking spots reserved for EV charging had become something of a safe harbor from the risk of an impound ticket in that area.

I asked the Parking Authority of Baltimore City why those EV charging spots are not included in the Tow Away Zone. They responded that there is no authorization in the Baltimore City Code providing for impoundment of non-EVs when they park in EV charging spots.

Image from Google Street View

There happens to be several spaces reserved for Zipcar parking on the other side of that same street. I went on Google Street View and saw that they have signs saying, “No Parking, Tow Away Zone, Reserved for Zipcars only” with a red arrow pointing toward the zip car spaces. It turns out that language was added to the law to allow spots reserved for car-share vehicles to be designating as an impound area. Here is the section of the Baltimore City Code that addresses the impounding area for car-sharing spaces.

§ 31-107. Car-sharing spaces.
(a) “Car-sharing program” defined.
“Car-sharing program” means a program by which an entity offers the use of motor vehicles to its members and patrons on a 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week basis, charging for the use of these vehicles on a time-used basis.
(b) Impounding area.
Impounding areas include those locations on the streets, on public-metered parking lots, and in City-owned parking facilities that the Director of Transportation reserves for parking vehicles used in a car-sharing program approved by the Director.
(Ord. 07-607.)

It appears that the code will have to be amended in order to provide for impounding of ICE vehicles that block the charging stations in Baltimore City.

Howard County passed the first law in the state of Maryland to specifically allow for impounding of non plug-in vehicles that block a charging station. My council representative initiated that bill with my encouragement. Perhaps a resident of Baltimore City can contact their city representative and urge them to consider legislation to address this. I will be happy to help.


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