Instead, Barak paid about $300 to get his minivan back. "I showed them my handicapped placard and told them they should be ashamed of themselves," Barak grouses. "They just laughed and told me that they've heard worse hard-luck stories than mine."

Complaints to the city show several other victims like Barak. On September 27, 2012, Nicolle Ugarriza parked her rental car outside her home, the Helen Mar Condo building. She was driving a rental because her own car was in the shop, using daily placards to park in her space. When she was late putting a new tag up one morning, the rental was towed.

"I have to take time out of my busy day to go buy new tags," she wrote to the city. "Was it not enough to just give me a ticket? Did they really need to tow my rental car?"

A month later, on October 26, Matthew Saini left his car in a residential parking spot close to his apartment near Meridian Avenue and Fourth Street. He rode his motorcycle to his second shift at the Fontainebleau Hotel, where he works as an events manager. When he returned in the early morning, Saini saw that MPBD had set up a DUI checkpoint right in front of his building. When he got closer, he realized his car was missing. "I called 911," he says. "The operator told me that a police officer called Beach Towing."

While he was at work, the city had put up temporary no-parking signs. "I am asking that someone from the city look into this situation and offer an apology," he says. Good luck with that.

This March 16, lawyer Gilbert K. Squires parked at a meter near the Nash Hotel and went to his Bikram yoga class. Three hours later, he returned to find his car towed. Squires claims he spoke to a desk manager at the Nash Hotel who told him a valet company operator had put up a no-parking sign while he was gone and called for a tow. "The sign was not there in the morning when I parked," says Squires, who had to pay $280 in towing fees and a parking ticket. "This kind of improper activity should not be tolerated."


Valuables Missing From Towed Vehicles

Go to either Beach or Tremont's tow yards and you'll see big signs warning that management is not responsible for valuables left inside vehicles. Those signs are there for good reason.

According to Miami Beach Police, there have been 15 reported thefts at the two lots between June 2012 and this June. On September 15, for instance, a Delray Beach resident reported that someone from Tremont stole her wallet from her car. But Miami Beach Police told her that since she didn't witness the theft, there was nothing they could do. "It really sucks," she tells New Times. "On top of paying $311 for towing my car, I had to go get a new license and cancel my credit cards."

Nine days later, 42-year-old Miami resident Alejandro Gonzalez accused Tremont employees of stealing $400 from the glove compartment of his car. Again, no witnesses. No case.

On October 6, 23-year-old Randy Fernandez, following his release from jail on a DUI charge, went to Tremont to pick up his car. He called police after discovering that his car had been ransacked and that someone had stolen his iPad and iPhone. "I'm pretty sure it was someone who works for the tow company," Fernandez tells New Times. "Of course, they denied touching anything."

On February 21, 30-year-old Guerson Cruz complained to Miami Beach cops that he believed Tremont employee Marcos Garcia had swiped $500 he had left in his car. According to the police report, Garcia denied taking the cash. Case closed.

Beach Towing has faced its own klepto accusations. On March 31, 23-year-old Mario Trabillo-Justiniauo told cops he suspected Beach Towing employees had jacked a $2,000 HD camera and a $1,500 Macbook from his 2008 BMW 328i. No charges came from that accusation.

Through their lobbyist, Andrade, Beach and Tremont officials declined to comment.


Political Connections Grease the Wheels

Talk to anyone who's been whacked by any of these schemes and they'll ask the same question: How the heck do Tre­mont and Beach Towing get away with it?

The answer is easy: political power. By spending thousands on lobbyists and getting the backing of key city commissioners, the two companies have ensured another long stretch of virtual monopoly.

"There's no doubt they have strong political connections," says City Commissioner Ed Tobin, who last year was on the losing side of a vote that allowed the two companies to increase their towing fees. "They have been doing it that way for years."

To understand the power, you'll need some history. Founded in 1977 and 1984 respectively, Beach Towing and Tremont have been the only tow firms in the city Carl G. Fisher built since '91, when their last competitor folded. Three years earlier, commissioners had approved a measure requiring tow companies to own a lot within city limits. Since the two companies now owned the only spaces zoned for tow lots, Beach and Tremont were the only games in town.

That's translated into a cash cow for Mark Festa, Beach Towing's owner, and Russell Galbut and Keith Menin — owners of the Shelbourne and Mondrian Hotels and dozens of other properties — who bought Tremont in 2011 from Edwin "Tony" Gonzalez.

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15 comments
davcar2009
davcar2009

I lived their in 2001-2002 it wasn't that bad.. I returned in 2011 what a nightmare Parking was .. It 's not just the Tow companies... Miami Dade Parking are total Scum.. Their Policy is $$$..Fuck the TOURIST I will never set foot in South Beach again. Go some where else is my Advice...

FredF
FredF

simple, boycott businesses  that tows


See a towing sign, don't shop there.  ever. 

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

FOXY BROWN and RED COW are both connected to ALL COUNTY TOWING who is a vendor in BOTH parking lots for those restaurants - so be warned YOU may be subject to unnecessary RISK of exposure to possible PREDITORY TOWING

ASK MANAGEMENT of these establishments how many of their patrons cars were TOWED and under what circumstances BEFORE you go

being overserved and doing the smart thing of taking a cab home leaving YOUR CAR in those lots and you may find your car in the ALL COUNTY TOWING yard nearby the next day - DO NOT EXPECT restaurant management to advise you of this as they may be compensated for both the cab fare and towing charge AT YOUR EXPENSE

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

AMERICAN SOCIAL - YOYO

RED COW - YOYO = WARNING the LOT is monitored by a PREDITORY TOWING operator as defined by CITY OF SUNRISE (ALL COUNTY TOWING) meaning they have many many complaints against them and were responsible for many aggresive towing tactics including BLACK FRIDAY whereby 200 plus cars were towed in a planned operation from the Sawgrass Mills Mall

TAP 42 - VPPA free #65

IL MULINO - VPPA free #50

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

another promotion from AMERICAN SOCIAL which offers PAID PARKING at $10 an hour and UP and NO they do not validate parking so again be aware of the additional cost in your BUDGET to include PARKING (and another reason to maybe go to TAP42 which has an entire parking lot of FREE PARKING !)

see how easy this can be !

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

here for example is RED COW RESTAURANT review with NO MENTION of parking and WHO does the TOWING in their LOT (while directly across the street IL MULINO has ample free parking available !)

RED COW RESTAURANT is just a few miles from the tow yard of ALL COUNTY TOWING

i would suspect this promotion to be really a DEAL to include a $251 towing charge

why should i risk being towed by ALL COUNTY TOWING a publicly identified PREDITORY towing operation here in broward with dozens of complaints in that area when i can PARK RISK FREE elsewhere

SEE HOW EASY it is to infor the PUBLIC

likewise the public SHOULD KNOW who does the towing where they park - IF IT IS ALL COUNTY TOWING chnaces are good you are being spotted as you ARRIVE and will be towed

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

so here is what NT can do for it's readers - EVERY promotion in NT should include detailed information about WHERE TO PARK when going to the EVENT / RESTAURANT / BAR etc ................this way those VENDORs that HAVE PARKING available for thier patron CAN BE REWARDED = period

YOYO = means (Y)ou're (O)n (Y)our (O)wn........and probably will be either TOWED or GOUGED a fee for parking

VPPA free #100 = means (V)endor (P)rovided (P)arking (A)vailable for free with 100 spots

VPPA $$$ #50 = means (V)endor (P)rovided (P)arking (A)vailable for $30 ($ for each $10) with 50 spots

NOGO = means the entire promotion is intended to LURE unsuspecting drivers to park in that open lot across the street that looks to be PUBLIC but is really the reason for the promotion in the first place so budget the extra $241 for the tow and another $58 for the cab ride to the towing yard

EDUCATE YOUR READERs to AVOID THESE SCAMs including CITING those restaurants and bars that HAVE NO AVAILABLE parking ! ! !

the BEST DEFENSE is to EDUCATE US ! ! !

Rich Stroes
Rich Stroes

Yup.. major scumbags.. as is the city that endorse them...drivers are thugs ala Dirty Blondes bouncers. . Simple though...Just ignore So Be..

Brian Bartlett
Brian Bartlett

Easy solution, Forget the fakeness Sobe, just don't go because beers are $15, rum drinks are $20 and every a$$ monkey and gold digger on the planet revolves around SOBE.

George Nemeth
George Nemeth

jennifer lopez is a washed-up mtv slut who represents this tv b.s. Boycott her songs then download them for free. Fat ass!

Tim Kling
Tim Kling

The valet company was a third party company that runs multiple hotels on the strip. The owners were extremely hard to get a hold of and refused to pay for repairs as well. They said that we were parking at our own risk and that as a courtesy the only way that they would fix the car was if I used their specific shop that they have a racket with. Rather than be inconvenienced by leaving my car in Miami for repairs for who knows how long (I live in Broward), we bent the hood down so that it would latch again and I am just living with the damage. As for the LR Disco, I don't know the outcome - lost touch.

Tim Kling
Tim Kling

I did not know that Tremont now has the same owners as the Shelbourne. I valet'ed my Honda Element and my friend's Land Rover Discovery last year at the Shelbourne and BOTH cars came back with appalling damage. The honda's hood was crushed as if it ran into a gate as it was closing and the Discovery's roof rack was ripped off. After multiple phone calls, they refused to pay for repairs.

Sam Smith
Sam Smith

This is crazy!! You gotta love a city that puts up no parking signs and then tows the cars that were legally parked and sends that biz to these horrible companies. I hardly ever go to So. Beach because of these type of behavior. The business in this city that work to attract people should be up in arms.

 
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