Council Agenda Includes Towing Laws, Radon Tests, Food Truck Hours
Among the changes that the bill would make include tightening regulations that currently lead to predatory towing—towing without the car owner’s permission.
The public hearing will be part of a full Council day that will begin with the regular general session starting at 9:30 a.m. in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the County Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville.
The general session, two public hearings scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m., two afternoon committee meetings and the evening public hearing will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed at: http://tinyurl.com/khktggw.
Chapter 30C of the County Code governs the towing or immobilization of vehicles on private property without the consent of the vehicle owners, and has not been substantively amended since 1997. Bill 17-15 would make a number of changes to the law to better protect public safety in incidents where vehicles are towed without the owners’ consent.
The Public Safety Committee, which is chaired by Marc Elrich and includes Councilmembers Tom Hucker and Sidney Katz, will hold the public hearing on Bill 17-15. The bill’s lead sponsor is Councilmember Roger Berliner. The bill is co-sponsored by Councilmembers Elrich, Katz, Hucker, Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal, Nancy Navarro, Craig Rice and Hans Riemer.
The provisions of the bill include:
–The County Executive would set either maximum rates or flat rates, and require towing companies to charge rates either not in excess of the maximum rate, or equal to the flat rate, depending on which is set.
–Granting subpoena powers for the Office of Consumer Protection in enforcing the law.
–Requiring one notice sign per 25 spaces in parking lots with 100 or more parking spaces, in addition to requiring signs at entrances.
–Requiring that tows between 2 a.m. and 9 a.m. be “specifically authorized” by the property owner.
–Requiring photographic evidence of violations or events precipitating the towing of a vehicle.
–Prohibiting the use of “spotters” to identify vehicles for towing.
–Requiring a property owner or property manager to maintain tow slips and information on nonconsensual tows.
–Giving authority to Office of Consumer Protection investigators to order release of vehicle.
During the Council’s morning session, lead sponsor Craig Rice will introduce Bill 31-15 that would require the seller of a single-family home to test for radon and give the buyer a copy of the test results. It also would require the seller to provide an estimate to reduce radon under certain circumstances.
Radon is a radioactive gas found in the air that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. High levels of radon can cause serious illnesses and often occur in single-family homes. Although radon remediation from a single-family home is possible, many people purchase a home without knowing if high levels of radon exist in the home.
Also to be introduced is Bill 32-15 that would expand the hours of operation of food trucks from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Currently, food truck operators are subject to the same allowed hours as all other vendors. Except for a prearranged exception, a vendor in the County must not conduct business before 9 a.m. nor after sunset.
The idea for Bill 32-15 originated in the Wheaton High School Innovation Lab, where students learn project management skills via a curriculum developed by the County’s Chief Innovation Officer, Dan Hoffman, in partnership with Montgomery County Public Schools.
The morning will start with the presentation of proclamations to Gene Counihan, who has filled many roles throughout the County prior to his recent retirement, and to Damascus Elementary School and its principal, Bill Collins. As part of an incentive program to get students to read more, Collins and his staff set several unique goals based on the number of minutes his students read. The ultimate incentive was that he would sleep on the school’s roof if a certain number of reading minutes was exceeded. After the students met the goal, Collins camped out for a night on the roof.