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Council rejects tow truck drivers parking at home
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A police chief request to have the city allow tow truck drivers on the city's "rotation list" to park at their homes for quicker response time to accidents and other public safety scenes was denied on Monday by the Ceres City Council.

At least three members of the council stated concerns about allowing tow trucks in excess of 10,000 pounds to park in residential areas. A motion to grant deWerk's recommendation made by Councilman Chris Vierra and seconded by Mayor Anthony Cannella was denied by members Ken Lane, Guillermo Ochoa and Bret Durossette.

Vierra motioned that operators be allowed to keep their trucks at their homes only if neighbors within 300 radial feet gave their consent and called for an annual review. The rest of the council balked, however.

Public Safety Director/Chief of Police Art deWerk asked the council to amend the city ordinance, saying the city's eight tow truck operators respond to calls faster if they have their trucks at home. The city requires a tow operator to arrive within 30 minutes of being called and that typically trucks arrive within 15 minutes. He said those fast response times are due in part to the fact that the city has not enforced the law that forbids operators from stationing at the homes of drivers. But the matter became an issue when a resident complained last year.

Ceres resident Robert Hall said he encountered problems when a Ceres Pro Tow driver was parking across the street from his Douglas Drive home last year. He called the truck an eyesore and called Ceres police to complain about the driver parking illegally on his block and was at first told it wasn't illegal. The truck became a moot point when the driver was eventually fired and the truck disappeared. But Hall showed up at Monday's meeting to argue that other residents shouldn't have to endure what he did.

"Until you have one across the street, you do not know what this is like," Hall told the council.

Durossette said he cringes at the thought of the larger trucks presenting hazards to children who might be playing in the streets of neighborhoods. He also cited the weight affecting street surfaces and curbs.

Vierra was willing to make provisions that would allow the flat bed tow trucks to be allowed in a neighborhood as long as the neighbors within 300 feet consented. Ochoa, however, said he believes an operator could intimidate neighbors to signing on. Ochoa also said being on the city's rotation list was a privilege and that companies should make provisions for drivers to be able to respond quickly without having trucks at homes, suggesting that employees could stay at tow yards while on call.

"I'd rather not open up Pandora's Box," said Ochoa of an ordinance change.

DeWerk said tow operators don't want negative presence in neighborhoods and argued that fast tow response is a "public safety issue."

Lane said he understood the need for deWerk to free up his officers - they must remain on scene until the vehicle is towed - but also remembers how neighbors resented his father's TID vehicle parked at his home.

Cannella said he would "personally hate" a truck in his neighborhood but was agreeable to letting neighborhood reject trucks in their area.

After both motions were made, Lane suggested "why not let it be complaint driven like the way it is."