Although the companies don't provide revenue figures, they each tow roughly 450 cars per week, according to a former high-ranking city official. At $205 ( the Miami Beach resident rate) or $241 (the tourist rate), that means they rake in $92,250 to $108,450 every seven days. That doesn't include the additional mileage and administrative charges tacked on to each bill.

How do they translate that profit into political power?

City law bars Beach and Tremont from raising cash for candidates. But there is nothing stopping them from donating money to candidates outside of Miami Beach. So when Commissioner Jonah Wolfson's wife, Andrea, successfully ran for county circuit judge last year, she received $2,500 in bundled contributions from Beach Towing; Festa, a storage company Festa owns; and two employees. Tremont and 35 companies with the same address as Galbut's company, Crescent Heights, each gave Andrea's campaign $500, for a total of $17,500.

Perhaps not coincidentally, when both companies lobbied hard for a rate increase, their biggest champion on the dais was Jonah Wolfson. During the June 6 commission meeting, then-City Manager Jorge Gonzalez tried to get commissioners to require the tow companies to provide the city with background checks on all employees and to install GPS devices. "Here's your chance to get your accountability measures," Gonzalez said.

Wolfson balked. In fact, one former high-ranking city official who asked not to be named says Gonzalez's opposition to the tow rate hike is the real reason Wolfson started a move to fire him — a movement that ended with Gonzalez's resignation in June.

"Jorge was never in favor of giving them an increase," the source says. "He was standing in the way of Beach and Tremont making an additional million dollars a year."

Six months later, with Gonzalez out of the way, Wolfson again led the charge to raise tow rates. "This is not a tax," Wolfson proclaimed. "This is something people get charged if they leave their car in the wrong place."

Wolfson vehemently denies doing favors for Beach and Tremont even though both firms supported his wife's judicial campaign. "Because we're talking about the tow companies, you want to make it salacious," he says. "My response to asking me if political contributions had something to do with my vote is, 'Go fuck yourself.'"

Of course, Wolfson is just one Miami Beach pol backing Beach and Tremont. Commissioners Deede Weithorn, Jorge Exposito, and Michael Gongora, who is now a candidate for mayor, voted with Wolfson to give the two companies their rate hike at the November 2012 meeting. "People are doing something bad," Gongora said. "This is essentially punishment for people parking in residential zones and parking where they shouldn't park."

The only way to remove the grip Beach and Tremont have on towing in the city is to open up business to firms from across the causeways, Wolfson continues. And that is not ever happening. At least not on his watch.

He says: "If you send people who are here on vacation off the Beach, you end up with a situation where they are traveling to dangerous neighborhoods like Opa-Locka and Liberty City where they'll get their heads shot off."

Gongora is certainly not going to take them on either. He describes Beach and Tremont as "horrible, necessary evils." Phillip Levine, another mayoral candidate, says towing is a "necessary public service in our city."

Even Tobin — who is not up for reelection and voted against the tow rate hike — concedes the city to Beach and Tre­mont. "I don't know that it would be any better without a monopoly," he says. "I think it would be worse if any tow truck could come in here to pick up cars."

The only candidate taking a stand is entertainer Steve Berke, who lost in his bid to beat incumbent Mayor Matti Herrera Bower two years ago.

Berke says that as mayor, he would instruct the city manager and city attorney to require Beach Towing and Tre­mont to pay their drivers a flat hourly rate with no incentives for the number of vehicles towed or have the city completely take over towing operations in Miami Beach, which would kill the duopoly.

"These companies are supposed to be performing a public service," Berke says. "It is a shameful, disgusting state of affairs and an embarrassment to our city."

Tow companies' response from Rafael E. Andrade, Esq.

Below is my only "on the record" response to all of the questions presented. It is respectfully requested that my statement be included in its entirety and without any edits. Based upon past articles and the questions presented, it appears that the story is going to be an unfair, biased, and misinformed attack on the Miami Beach towing industry and my clients. Since a "cover story" is afforded ample print space, I trust that you will honor my request and print the following unedited statement:

"The towing industry in the City of Miami Beach provides necessary and essential services that promote the health, safety and welfare of the community by removing vehicles that pose a hazard to traffic and pedestrians, vehicles involved in police investigations, and vehicles that illegally park in areas that require residential parking permits. On-street parking in the City is insufficient and residents actually pay a fee for a permit that allows them to park in designated areas. To not enforce illegal parking in these areas would be unfair and adversely affect our residents' quality of life. Similarly, towing is necessary for the orderly operation of private businesses. Those that illegally park and interfere with the use of someone else's property have no right to that space. The towing companies exercise caution and diligence before a vehicle is removed and spend considerable resources to investigate all claims and allegations against them. Most are determined to be without support. When a mistake is made, it is corrected. In November 2012 the City Commission adjusted the towing rates for the first time since 2004 based on CPI. That process was thoroughly debated at countless public meetings and was completely transparent. Bottom line, vehicles are towed due to criminal or civil violations of the law, and the towing industry simply provides a necessary, albeit at times unpopular, public service to the City and private businesses within the City."

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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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