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Council cuts tow company slack
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Councilmembers approved a resolution last week which clears up a situation that had one tow operator wondering if he would be able to continue doing business with the city.

The resolution, adopted 5-0, clarified that DBM Wholesale Towing may stay on the list of tow truck companies called upon when Ceres Police deal with public matters.

The city maintains a "rotation list" of only local companies in the area. The police department routinely calls operaters on the list to have cars towed off which have been in accidents or crimes. Police also are required to tow away cars from traffic stops where the driver has been arrested or cited for not having a valid drivers' license.

Most tow companies seek to be on a city rotation list because of the increased amount of business.

DBM Towing has been on the Ceres rotation list for years. But when the city updated its list of criteria in 2005, a change placed DBM in a dilemma. Previously the city demanded that the tow company be located within a mile of the city limits "as the crow flies," noted Police Chief Art deWerk. The language was changed to require no greater distance than a driven mile. DBM, located on South Ninth Street, has its yard within a straight-line mile of Ceres but is actually 1.6 miles from Ceres on the road system.

The discrepancy was noted by a number of Modesto tow operators who hoped to get on Ceres' list when they were cut from the Modesto rotation list. They wondered why the city had DBM on its list when it didn't meet the criteria. City staff then told David Brenay, the owner of the company, that he would have to move back to Ceres if he wanted to stay on the list. After he was unsuccessful in finding a suitable location, he appealed to the council to make an exception to its one driven mile rule.

DBM has been on the city's rotation list since the 1990s and was once located in Ceres. In 2001 the company moved it base to just outside the city limits.

City Attorney Mike Lyions said that since other tow companies were disqualified from being on the list because of the distance requirement, and DBM was not technically in compliance, special consideration was needed to protect the city from a lawsuit.

Brenay was happy to see the clean-up resolution but expressed dismay that his business would be automatically dropped from the rotation list should he sell his business. DeWerk wouldn't budge on the matter, saying no operator will be placed on the list without scrutiny.

Police routinely do background checks on drivers as well as audit driving records since tows are for public business.

The council justified the grandfathering, saying the city could have grandfathered him in when the ordinance was modified in 2005.

Councilman Ken Lane spoke highly of the company, saying it's always done "an outstanding job."