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Obscure California Law Allows 1 Hour Of Parking Without Being Towed


A California restaurant owner upset with a lack of parking for his customers, has uncovered a 60-year-old state law that may call into question what you know about parking lots.  Capital Public Radio's Randol White explains.


Willie's Burgers has been on 16th Street near Broadway in Sacramento for nearly 30 years.

Owner William Taylor says recent construction temporarily cut off access to his handful of parking spaces.

Neighboring businesses, protective of their own spots, posted signs warning drivers - park here and get towed if you're not a customer.

You've likely seen similar signs.

That's where Taylor says ... his customers ... and you ... are being misled.

TAYLOR: "Hey, just because they have a sign there, doesn't mean you have to believe it."

Why? He found a California vehicle code that gives PRIVATELY-OWNED, FREE LOTS ... like shopping centers or grocery stores ... more flexibility than you might think.

To spread the word, he's posted a large sign outside his restaurant.

TAYLOR: "The bottom line is that you can park anywhere for one hour and people ought to know that and they ought to take advantage of it."

The one hour is key, and you have to obey other laws ... but essentially, he's right.

The law goes even further and says, if you're towed within that hour ... the person who ordered it ... is civilly liable for twice the amount of the towing and storage fees.

The law was put into place to protect drivers who've broken down.

So, I asked Taylor whether he feels his messaging is in line with the law's intent.

TAYLOR: "You know — I think — you know, there are so many abusive laws and coercive laws that if you find one that actually can come to your advantage, you ought to be able to use it."

Several state and local agencies we contacted declined to comment.

They say the code is not in their jurisdiction.

In Sacramento, I'm Randol White.