Tourist trap? Parking lot giving City bad rap, officials say

news-woodardparking-mNew signage at the private First & Market parking lot was meant to prevent confusion, but some visitors are still getting burned.

Last Sunday, Orange County resident Michael Knight, his wife and three other couples piled into his Suburban and headed to the Downtown Mall for what they thought would be an enjoyable evening in Charlottesville. They had dinner at the Downtown Grille and took in a movie at the Regal Cinema, but when they returned to the Suburban, the festive spirit ground to a halt.

"There were only three cars in the parking lot, including ours, when we returned around 8:30pm," says Knight. "And all of them had tow trucks behind them."

Knight says the group had pre-paid for three hours of parking but had inadvertently overstayed by about half an hour. Knight says he would have expected some kind of grace period, perhaps a small fine, especially because it was a Sunday and there were so few cars in the lot.

Nope. This was developer Keith Woodard's First & Market parking lot, and it's not a place that tolerates customers who overstay.

Knight says he persuaded the tow-truck driver not to tow the Suburban, but he still had to scrounge up $125 in cash to reclaim his dangling vehicle. The other two parkers in the lot, he says, weren't so fortunate.

"We were over the three-hour time limit by about thirty minutes," explains Knight, admitting his group shouldn't have overstayed. "But something is not right about that system. We thought we were fine with a three-hour ticket on our dash. Obviously, other people in the lot thought they were fine, too."

Knight's experience isn't a new one for unsuspecting visitors. But recently released documents show it can be a painful one.Last November, out-of-town visitors Michael and Susan Daniels celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary with a weekend trip to Charlottesville that included a visit to the Downtown Grille. Again, it was a Sunday night.

"There were other cars parked in the lot, and others were pulling into the lot as we were," Susan Daniels wrote to the Chamber of Commerce. "We mistakenly thought that this was a public lot since there was no attendant on duty, and this was 7pm on a Sunday evening."

After dinner and a pleasant stroll on the Mall, the Daniels returned to the lot to find that Collier Towing was hitching up two cars and had already taken theirs to the company's impound lot on 5th Street. They were told by a driver that they could either walk or take a cab to the lot.

"This unpleasant encounter cost us $120 in cash so we could get our vehicle back," said Daniels. "On this Sunday evening they must have towed at least a dozen cars. By the way, our dinner at the Downtown Grill cost us $100. So we had a $220 dinner in the 'lovely' Historic District."

Daniels says they had intended to stay another day or two to sight-see and shop for the holidays, but what happened at Woodard's lot caused them instead to pack up and head home to South Carolina.

"If you think this sounds like sour grapes, you are correct," wrote Daniels. "We were flim-flammed by a con artist who takes advantage of unsuspecting tourists, negating all your efforts to promote your city. We will never be back, and we will be sure to relay this experience to all of our friends, family, and acquaintances along the way."

The incident raised the ire of at least one city official.

"I know you think the signage you have is enough, but there are too many intelligent people that this happens to," Neighborhood Development chief Jim Tolbert told Woodard in an email shortly after the incident. "It is giving Cville a bad rep, and I would hope you would be ashamed to be a part of it."

Eventually, Woodard demolished his old parking booth, revamped the signage, and added lighting and a canopy above the automated payment machine, the heart of his operation. Indeed, during a recent visit to the lot, a Hook reporter couldn't help but notice the new signage, which warns that payment is required "24/7."

"The last thing I want is for anyone, especially visitors to Charlottesville, to have a bad experience," Woodard responded in an email to city officials.

Still, the system has yet to endear itself to City Hall.

"We’ve talked with Mr. Woodard, and the signage has improved," says City spokesperson Ric Barrick, "but while the system in place remains legal, it's arguably inconvenient and unduly expensive and challenging for the public."

Indeed, an incident experienced by an older couple celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary at a Sunday night concert at the Charlottesville Pavilion drives the point home.

"Since my wife and I are somewhat advanced in years (I'm 81), and have some disability," wrote Charles Churchman in an email to city officials, "we looked for a parking lot fairly close to the Pavilion."

Churchman says he saw no attendant on duty at the First & Market lot and assumed that, as was the case in their hometown of Harrisonburg, such lots are free on Sunday, especially in the evening hours. "We did not even notice a sign or the presence of an automated machine for collecting parking fees," he says.

After the concert and a hamburger dinner at Five Guys, the Churchmans returned to find that their vehicle had been towed. Fortunately, a young man they encountered helped them find out where their car was, and told them where an ATM was so they could take out the $145 in cash that Colliers Towing Service told them they needed to claim their car.

"If he hadn't helped us and walked with us the mile and a half to the impound lot, where our car, along with the rest of those hauled in for the night’s large take, was parked," said Churchman, "we would still be frantically walking the streets."

That wasn't the first time an elderly couple was stranded carless and confused. Back in August 2007, when the lot had the un-automated self-pay system, June and Paul Russell, who enjoyed June's 74th birthday celebration at Hamiltons at First & Main, allegedly forgot to put their receipt on the dashboard. It cost them $110 and a long walk to Collier's impound lot on 5th Street.

"The few blocks turned out to be nearer a mile," June Russell told the Hook. "The pains in my chest and arthritis in my hips became so severe I had to stop several times to rest." Then she added: "My birthday had turned into a nightmare."

Six months later, a couple and their 12-year old son visiting from Salem had a run-in with two Collier's tow-truck drivers, who, in the absence of an attendant on the site, basically enforce the fine system themselves, while earning 40 percent on the fees. According to the Salem couple, the drivers tried to tow their car even though they had just arrived and were trying to figure out the ticket system, an incident that was later called a "misunderstanding" by the drivers, but that the husband called "bunk."

"There's no question in my mind that this situation needs to be addressed," says Chamber of Commerce chief Tim Hulbert, who says he has grown tired of the steady stream of complaints his office has received about the lot. "Colliers has been very aggressive, and while it may not be illegal, it's poor business practice. The punishment here just doesn't fit the crime."

The Hook asked Woodard to respond to this and other complaints, and to address the issue of the punishment not fitting the crime, but he had not responded by the time of this post.

While neither Woodard or Collier's has been found to be doing anything illegal, the reports of ruined evenings and pricy punishments have convinced at least one family to steer clear of the Downtown Mall in the future.

"I was pretty darn angry," says Knight, who estimates that his Orange County group spent close to $700 at Charlottesville businesses that night. "It really left a bad taste in my mouth."

Read more on: keith woodardParking


older person,

"Listen, our culture in Central Virginia is Drive and Park for Free."

Absolutely true. And even those who could do more walking in the downtown area seem to feel the need to drive their cars from one side of dowtown to the other.

"The City should get smart and either provide better public transportation, better parking, or else better living amenities to support a real live residential community that does not depend on ripping off the tourist trade."

Boy, you aren't kidding, are you? And the minute you get a community trying to do that, the city goes out of it's way to quash it because it isn;t cool and the big developers like Woodard and Capshaw tell them otherwise. Belmont is a perfect example. Here we have a little totally pediestrian oriented neighborhood revitalizing becuase of people who WANT to walk and what do they do? Put in the offesive Pavillion, and then grant a bunch of lisences to a bunch of restaurants licenses in a tiny area with no parking, in direct conflict with the zoning guidelines. BEl Rio never had parking. The Local doesn't have Parking. Tavola doesn't have parking. The exercise place has what, 1 space? 2? Now they are going to expand. Where are they parking?

Now the residents get all the miseries they tried to minimize through wise choices, and they get to subsidize those who want to live out of town and commute in. Ridiculous.

I remember the old Reids supermarket downtown. It was great. The new place is trying, but it still seems like it is more oriented towards having people either come in for dry staples, or lunch sandwiches. It's hard to seriously think of buying vegetables or a meat there.

Anyways, rant over. I am absolutely in agreement with you. The City needs to stop trying to roll over for the big developers and pretending that they are 'cool' instead of paying attention to their actual long term residents.


"BOTTOM LINE, again: Pay for 3 hours if you’re going to stay 3 hours. It’s something you can teach children in kindergarten."

You know, there is a very interesting and wonderful book called "Everything I needed to know about life I learned in Kindergarten." It does reflect rules, but it sure does talk a lot of ethics, and common sense and basic ideas like "do unto others as they would have do unto you." It certainly doesn't get into the game of knowing specific legalease, and it frowns upon the sort of bait and switch attitude of Woodard. People pay to park in the lot, thinking it's a paid for lot, and get towed anyways.

This is entirely different than the people I see downtown, and in Belmont, and other spots parking deliberately in front of no parking signs on the street becuase....there is no parking available close by and they might have to walk. They park with their 80k Mercedes and bloated SUV, blocking intersections and traffic flows. They know exactly what they are doing.

This is different.

A judge once said "I don't know what you call it but I know it's wrong."

What's going on is wrong.

The towing may not be technically illegal, but it should be. This is not the way municipal lots anywhere I know of operate and private lots ought not to be able to be so draconian. It seems to me that a) there should be a grace period of 30 minutes before any action at all is taken, b) the action taken should be requirement of payment of the additional amount due and c) either a human attendant must be present at all times or an automated system where time stamped tickets are taken before a gate is raised for entry and payment collected on exit before the gate is raised. I'm sure that this parking lot operation required a business license to begin operating. Rather obviously, before that license was granted, the city licensing authority should have required that the business operate in a fair and reasonable manner and require details of how they intended to operate. If those details were insufficient or unacceptable then the license to operate should not have been granted in the first place. Now there's a situation where a large number of people have not only been greatly inconvenienced, but have been essentially robbed by a system that should not have existed in the first place and in some cases had serious, perhaps life-threatening health repercussions and they have absolutely no recourse to get things set right. What if that woman had died, on her birthday no less? Oh and, by the way, what if the people who get their vehicles towed don't have enough money to get their vehicles released or don't have an ATM card? What are they supposed to do? It's great that one city official is speaking out (mostly because he's inconvenienced by the complaints). What would be great is if the lot was forced to cease operations until they agree to operate in a fair and reasonable manner. Better late than never.

-You read the code!
-No, YOU read the code!
-MOOOMMMMM! John isn't reading the code and I told him to read if first!

*it first.

"Knight says he convinced the tow truck driver not to tow the Suburban, but he still had to scrounge up $125 in cash to reclaim his dangling vehicle."

This scam has been going on for decades. Obviously someone is tending/watching the parking lot--or how would they know your car is over the time limit? Why tow the car when you can hook it up and wait for the driver and get paid for a service (towing) which you didn't provide? Remember on the UVA corner, the tow truck would park around the corner, wait for someone to park, hook up the wrecker, wait for you to come out of the store and charge you for a tow when only a hook-up was performed? Another legal crime? Private property rights in Cville? You don't want to open that can of worms.

"Seems like the city needs to regulate signage."

Ah, they do. Well. the signs of businesses the corporate political party dislikes. Dems not GOP run this city. It's hard to figure out if city is anti-business or pro-business. I guess both depending whether the government employee likes you or not.

"Last Sunday, Orange County resident Michael Knight, his wife, and three others couples piled into his Suburban and headed to the Downtown Mall..."

Silly. If he'd taken KITT, the car could have called to warn him of the impending tow. "Danger, Michael! Collier's is coming!"

For some reason, the writer failed to articulate an important aspect of the problem here. This lot asks you to pay with a credit card, so anyone who puts down a card to park there naturally assumes that they wont be towed if they're, say, 30 minutes late. We're conditioned these days to think if we put down a card, we will just be charged for the extra time. Instead, they take advantage of this and tow you for being 30 minutes overtime on a Wednesday night at 11:30--in an empty parking lot, for heavensakes. Cheap, misleading and disgusting.

Some of the replies here indicate a heartlessness that is almost beyond belief. I wonder if some of these commenters read the whole article and fully understood it. And I think Tim Brown must be one of the tow truck operators who benefits from this shady operation. As I said before, this is the city's fault. Since they didn't prevent it from happening in the licensing phase, they should fix it and promptly NOW.

There are some lame analogies here (like comparing towing people to cops), and anyone can use hyperbole to try and win their point. Cops are responsible to higher, public authorities and are hired to protect and serve the public. We, the public, have some say over their actions and their service is not supposed to be used as a cash cow. Superiors control how much they can ticket. They take an oath...
Pizza delivery guy shows up early and says he wants $125 for the pizza. Just hustlin'! Hustle and you prosper? Someones definition of hustle must be different from mine!

From what I've read in these comments, there are some locals who know the game and think any poor schmuck that ends up on the lot should too. The law's the law, irrespective of the ill will created. For you locals, it's easy to wag your finger and be high and mighty. Do you think all these people visit and park with the intention of breaking the rules?
An example: We go to dinner and service is slow or food had to be sent back. We're having dessert and drinks and we're going to be 5 minutes late back to the lot. Do we jump up and go down the street to take care of this? Are we even watching the clock? Do we know or even think about there being no grace period? It may be well past the time that new customers would even come into town. And, we come from an area where lots and parking meters are unheard of...
Well, screw them! They should have known better. They can read! They should have known that a tow truck driver was sitting there, waiting for the bell to toll. NO GRACE!!
Then there's the lot owner. Does it take $125 to deter overstaying in his lot? That's $75 cash for the owner and $50 cash for the towing company. Demanding cash is underhanded, as they could and should accept a debit card (which is instantaneous and irreversible). Smells of greed and hustlin'.
Private, legal, within their rights. Fine. Does it make for a healthy, friendly community where people want to come? Is it moral/ethical/fair? Recently I heard this, though I am not religious: "What would Jesus do"?
The other night I parked in a lot. As I handed the attendant the money ($7 for all evening), he said, "you should not leave that there" and pointed to my Garmin, glowing on the dash. I did not know it was a high crime area. That was a very friendly gesture on his part. He didn't have to do it, but perhaps my accent and the Garmin gave away that I was not likely a local.
Seems to whole point of the article was the ill will created by the lot's owner. I don't see that changing until he does.

super Missed Point: He didn't remove the car before it was towed. He came across it while it was being towed.

Toadstool, arrrggg! It doesn't the dang code. Stop splitting hairs. You're there, you'll drive car shouldn't be charged $125!

@superMissed point "Can you name any other lot in town where this is the case? Seriously, I’m curious." Yes, I immediately thought of the private lot on South Street across from the pink apartment building.


Again, I have to keep explaining this....what would suck is getting charged $125 when you arrived before your car was towed, which is what happened to the man in the story, and which appears to be a violation of Virginia code, which sets a limit of $25 dollars if you remove the car yourself before it was towed. Knowing this, would you still be willing to suck it up?

Also, one characteristic of all the tales: people were told they had to come up with cash.

However, according to the Virginia Board of Towing and Recovery Operators, an operator is required to "accept for payment cash, insurance company check, certified check, money order, at least one of two commonly used, nationally recognized credit cards."

Cville Eye,

So does that private lot on South Street have an automated payment system?

The 80 year olds were going to the Pavillion where the closest parking lot is the Market Street Garage or at the SNL building eiht blockas away from where they actually parked and had to walk to. Maybe they're getting dotty.
@cookieJar, you are right.
BTW, I could find no local law in the city's code that governs towing cars from private property so the codes that were cited do no apply to this lot as superMissed point points out. Those laws applies to parking infractions on public property such as streets, UVA and publicly owned cemeteries. In fact the police have no right to enter Woodard's parking lot unless they have been called or have witness a crime being committed or have reason to believe that a crime will be committed.

it's an inexpensive lot, and as long as you follow the simple rules like any other law-abiding citizen, you'll be fine. for those of us raised to follow rules, parking in this lot is not a complex task. again, go to any other town/city - they all have pre-pay parking lots. and, how do you expect tow truck companies to stay in business if they don't tow? move to china or russia if you want to see the government, rather than private businesses, making money.

superMissed point,

It's a private law. It's a private towing company. The owner of the private lot is asking the private towing company to enforce the fees, losing 40% in the process. It's not even remotely analogous to the bizarre police officer analogy you propose; 100% of speeding tickets fines goes to the county or city, guess who the police officers work for?

If you don't want to get towed, pay for longer or park on the street. It's not rocket science.


As I've tried to make clear, the fact that the tow truck drivers are the ones enforcing the rules, and determining when a car gets towed in this particular lot is the issue. Can you name any other lot in town where this is the case? Seriously, I'm curious. Normally, its a lot attendant or the agent of a property owner, or the property owner themselves who calls a tow truck.

Do you see how this might lead to trouble? As it says in the story, three cars were getting towed on a Sunday night, when there were only three cars in the lot. Now, if the property owner or an attendant we're making the call, they might cut those folk's a break, not pull the trigger on calling a tow truck so fast, not make an 80-year old couple have to walk to get their car out of an impound lot. But would the tow truck driver, who could care less about what people think about Woodard's lot, and stands to make $40 bucks on each car be inclined to show the same kind of judgment?

Again, nothing illegal about you say, hustle and you prosper. However, if you're prospering by hustling a couple celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary out of $145 bucks, that could hurt your business in the long run.


You're wrong. It is absolutely analogous to the police officer analogy I proposed, if you're willing to imagine police officers as private contractors. Instead of simply being a salaried employee of the owner/government, the police officer/tow truck driver has a personal financial interest in seeing cars ticketed/towed--as in they pocket money each time they hand out a ticket or tow a car. In effect, the more they ticket/tow the more money they make personally. Think about that for a minute. That's alot different than an attendant working in a lot making 8 bucks an hour who enforces the parking rules, or a traffic cop making 30K doing his ticketing route. It's not rocket science.

Yes, it's a private lot, and they could charge twice as much if they wanted to, have tow trucks stationed there ready to tow you the second your ticket expires, but would it be good business practice? That's the issue here. If there are three cars in the lot on a Sunday night, is it really necessary to tow them if their tickets are thirty minutes over? Is it all worth perpetuating the Mall's reputation outside Charlottesville as a bad place to park?

Of course the tow truck drivers have an incentive to tow cars and patrol the lot for opportunities to do just that. That's the business they are in. So what?

"The more they ... tow the more money they make personally." Duh! Just like a taxi driver, pizza delivery guy, and countless other jobs. Hustle and you prosper. That's what built this country.

Re: the question "would it be good business practice?" Obviously it is or they would be doing it!


I wonder if you'd be as happy with the lot if, like the fellow in the story, you came back to your car as it was about to be towed, but still had to pay $125. Also, like others here, you're missing the point: the tow truck drivers, who get 40 percent of the towing fee, are enforcing the fines. That would be like cops getting 40 percent of every parking ticket they hand out...would you be okay with that?

Look, everything you ever wanted to know about Tow truck operator regulations:

Okay, now I know I need to stop this. lol Peace out, everyone.

law = lot

superMissed point,

All of your analogies and conclusions are based on speculation. A parking attendant in a bad mood is just as likely to call a tow truck on a car then a tow truck operator whose having a good night and sees a couple at their car while he is there and decides to cut someone a break.

The bottom line doesnt change though: The rule is simple. Pay to park. If you need more time, pay more. The lot owner made a choice of enforcement that you don't agree with; get over it. No one got "hustled." They didn't pay enough to park as long as they wanted. What part of that was hustling?

And a police officer does have an interest in writing more tickets--it's called budget cuts, the ones that have plagued every jurisdiction in the Commonwealth and led to massive salary reductions, hiring freezes, pay freezes, and lay offs.

It has always been my understanding that the towing companies who are named on signs in parking lots are the ones who look for violators of the lot rules. Why else would a lot owner have a deal with one company? Why would a lot owner want to pay an employee to deal with problem parkers when someone else would gladly do it on a commission basis?

In the end, if your car gets towed, how does it make any difference whether someone called the driver or he spotted your car on his own? Do you expect the delay between a call and a truck's arrival to buy you more free time? Sorry, that isn't the deal.

Hurt their business? Who are you going to call but a tow truck driver when your car is dead on the side of the road? Towing isn't quite as certain as death or taxes, but as long as there are people and cars, there will be towing companies. Honestly without scrolling back up to the article, I can't even tell you what company is involved. Neither can most other people.

it seems that people generally don't make a practice out of commenting on how "normal" their parking experience was (e.g., "oh hey guys, i want to make a comment! i had a completely normal parking experience and never saw a tow truck! what a normal parking lot owner!). this is a good thing though, since we would all get bored about reading that this lot is in fact completely normal. i'm guessing the tow trucks hook up on average about one per week at this lot. but call them and let us know if it's otherwise.

and or the 80 year old - yes it is unfortunate that they had to walk some distance (though they could have took a cab), but it's not like the tow truck driver runs a background check on license plates to determine the age of the vehicle owner. that is a little too much to expect out of them...

so let's discuss the real tourist trap- the RED LIGHT's that working for the city and you?

I want to see the revenue stream after 3 months of that debacle....I would guess that it will be down to nothing and the cameras are removed because they do not generate enough revenue for the owners.....but "the plan" worked............

Dustbag, the right to bear arms doesn't include the right to brandish them at law abiding citizens.

Slightly diverging from the topic, but since it was mentioned, Jones as City Manger is probably the worst move the current city council has yet made, which is really saying something. Norris is going to lose the credibility among the public that he will need if he is going to succeed in getting his way on the water issue etc. Looks like epic fail on the horizon all around. I predict we will all soon be wishing for the days when parking lots were top news stories.

since this automated parking system has been in business such a long time, then clearly the majority of reasonable people understand the lot and the city-approved signage. the pre-pay parking model (and similar signage) is in every other legitimate city/town in the country...not too difficult if you pay attention to your surroundings and can read a sign. and please let's stop expecting things for free, including parking. that's what got us into our economic mess.

It's a friggin' PARKING LOT - get over it!!

What y'all seem to be forgetting here is that the tow truck drivers, who get 40 percent of the towing fee, are the ones patrolling the lot looking for expired tickets...conflict of interest? Note what the bottom section in this Virginia code is trying to prevent...

Virginia Code § 46.2-1232 - Localities may regulate removal or immobilization of trespassing vehicles

A. The governing body of any county, city, or town may by ordinance regulate the removal of trespassing vehicles from property by or at the direction of the owner, operator, lessee, or authorized agent in charge of the property.

(iii) obtain, at the time the vehicle is towed, the written authorization of the owner of the property from which the vehicle is towed, or his agent. Such written authorization, if required, shall be in addition to any written contract between the towing and recovery operator and the owner of the property or his agent. For the purposes of this subsection, "agent" shall not include any person who either (a) is related by blood or marriage to the towing and recovery operator or (b) has a financial interest in the towing and recovery operator's business.

Also, as someone else pointed out, charging the man who arrived before his car was towed the full towing fee is a questionable practice, if not a violation of state code:

Virginia Code § 46.2-1231 - Ticketing, removal, or immobilization of trespassing vehicles by owner or operator of parking lot.

.....if the owner or representative or agent of the owner of the trespassing vehicle is present and removes the trespassing vehicle from the premises before it is actually towed, the trespassing vehicle shall not be towed, but the owner or representative or agent of the owner of the trespassing vehicle shall be liable for a reasonable fee, not to exceed $25 or such other limit as the governing body of the county, city, or town may set by ordinance, in lieu of towing.

When did Woodard become a big developer? Why exaggerate? @Old Timer, what does Woodard have to do with Belmont? How much property does he own there and what type?

Just heard from someone who was towed that she was expected to pay yet and additional late fee of 25$ to the lot as well. this is what we call Guido tactics. Time to get rough.

If your car is towed illegally, inform the police

Please, someone post Keith Woodard's personal cell phone number.

Confused consumers have always been and will always be the ripened prey of unethical businesspeople. That the lot owner has a credit card payment system and doesn't rely on it to charge extended stays is a clear indicator that he is far more motivated to collect his 60% of towing charges.

drivers are clueless wrote: "I can only laugh at a city who tickets aggressive on illegally parked cars themselves shedding crocodile tears when private folks do the same."

DRC, the city doesn't TOW illegally parked cars (unless they are in a fire zone or have many unpaid tickets). They TICKET them. The cost of a parking ticket pales in comparison to the cost of being towed and stored.

Dang, they paid through the nose for an evening on the Downtown Mall and then got double-hosed for another C-note by the evil tow-truck guy. Welcome to C'ville folks. C'mon back anytime!


Ah yes, one more of the wonderful business community that we always hear must be protected by the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce, and the GOP. These business people are all victims of the City and the Liberal Left, forced into their completely unethical and piddly poor business practices that not only punish consumers but punish other businesses in the area who might just be good business owners.

While downtown parking is a premium, and I do get tweaked at the idea that everyone thinks they should be able to park in someone's back yard, allowing these types of shysters to operate this way is equally pathetic.

He's got a 'deal' going with Colliers who effectively mans his lot and tows, so he doesn't have to pay someone to attend the lot. He should be obligated to staff the lot, or put in a slot to pay at. Or just put gates over the entrance to his lot of he wants to close it.

The City has lots for these folks, and it should be much better marked. They can walk the length of the Mall.

Matt, Charlottesville is not Moscow circa 1972. Make your argument in a thoughtful, meaningful way. How would you suggest that these privately lots be take away legally from their owners? I'd love to hear your answer....Folks need to make sense when they post something on a message board. Not just anger and vitriolic nonsense... I loathe those lots too, I'm not suggesting otherwise, but to say that they should be owned by the government makes not a darn lick of sense either...

The owner of this lot is too cheap to hire an attendant and is clearly using these means to garner more revenue for himself at the innocent tourists and visitors to the area. Seems like the city needs to regulate signage. And once again it confirms for me that the out of control tow operators in this town are nothing but legaized con-artists themselves.

The sign must be more clear. Easier to understand...Then if you cannot understand it, so be it...People are dumb and don't pay attention....Always remember that.

Matt, what stop at that? Lets just ban all private property downtown. A small armed insurrection with you at the lead ought to get us to that utopia in short order. I hope you will put Jim Tolbert in charge of it al once you are done. He can't manage the things that are his business, but he does seem to be quite an expert on how to manage other people's business.

I thought C,ville was progressive. those lots surrounding the downtown mall should not be privately owned. they should be own by the city and be free of charge, unlesss they are going to be manned and security provided. Wake up C,VILLE,,,

Ah, parking, the one issue that can make communists of conservatives. Storage of a private vehicle is a service that you should pay for, not a public good or a constitutional right. If someone wants to set up a business to sell storage of automobiles, they should be allowed to charge and create the terms that the market can bear. Nobody is accusing the restaurants on the downtown mall of ruining people's evenings by charging too much or forbidding customers to escape without paying. Things aren't free, folks. Sorry about that.

I just wont to say i lived i this town all my life .and i no what parking all about. I work at uva hospital and iam retired and i pay for parking in agarage and pay over 800 dollers a year.and parking is really bad in that area. when you park their must be clear sizn posted understand your parking rights.

In cville - I think the issue is that paying customers got towed. If you are going to tow people the minute their pre-paid ticket expires, then you darn well better say you are. A reasonable and rational person, having already paid for parking, would expect they would have a grace period in which they can expect to pay additional charges.

I might agree with you about the commuter attitude demanding city dwellers make their parking experience convenient, but that doesn't by any means excuse an attempt by a business person to effectively entrap people.

In addition, the standard fee for a tow call that does not entail towing is 25 dollars, not the full $120.

If you visit Carrytown in Richmond, you will find 24 hour parking garages free of charge...Why? Because it promotes business. Business pay taxes which help off set the cost of the garages. And not a tow truck in sight.

I find it quite interesting that the City only chooses to interact with the parking lot owner regarding signage. Virginia law gives the City many more choices, if the City would only choose to exercise those choices.

There is even one concept specifically detailed in Virginia law that might address the specifics of this situation. Virginia Code § 46.2-1232 specifically indicates that localities can enact ordinances that require . . . . ââ?¬Å?at the time the vehicle is towed . . . the written authorization of the owner of the property from which the vehicle is towed, or his agent”; and that ââ?¬Å?agent” could not be anyone that works for the tow company.

This could basically require some type of ââ?¬Å?attendant” (aka the ââ?¬Å?agent”), if the parking lot owner choose to tow vehicles.

I think this is an available option anytime the City wishes to follow up.

Oh, BTW, per Virginia Code § 46.2-1231, I don’t think any parking lot owner can legally use Colliers Towing for storage. You see, that section of Code details that ââ?¬Å?The owner, operator, or lessee of any parking lot . . . may have any vehicle occupying the lot . . . removed by towing . . . to a licensed garage for storage”. Colliers doesn’t have a garage (as ââ?¬Å?Garage, parking” is defined by City Code), just their own lot; hence towed vehicles can’t legally be stored at Colliers.

Just a thought.

lol @ Mighty Horse! ;)

A very similar thing happened to us in Ft Worth, TX, next door to Dallas, where I spent 50 years. Not exactly a tourist, I thought I knew Ft Worth...
We parked in an area that appeared to be a vacant lot (a building had once been there). Later we found that the no parking signage was missing, damaged, turned around backwards and/or not clearly visible from where we parked.

This cost us over $200. When we had our car towed I felt like I had been subjected to the worst kind of legalized extortion there is. We were also inconvenienced for two hours and we had to cow-tow to sleazy, low-life people where they had malnourished, sickly guard dogs and sawed-off shotguns on their office wall. I wrote to the Ft Worth City Manager's office and I was referred to a person in charge of towing contracts who was supposed to call me; they never bothered to call me.

At least in some places they figure out a better way:
A system of fining offenders could be worked out, but that wouldn't be putting money in the pockets of owners and towing companies. You would think that a city would care about the image they present to tourists-in particular. Be careful, there are still some outlaws in Texas and the city is looking the other way.

Deleted by moderator

Listen, I really can't believe this discussion is still going on. Almost all of the comments either oversimplify or overcomplicate the issue. The lot operator is wrong to operate the way he does and it should be illegal -- plain and simple. Some commenters have pointed out that, in fact, it DOES seem to be illegal. NONE of the people who parked in the lot were expecting to park for ONE MINUTE for free. Many commenters seem to be deliberately ignoring that. What would be simple and fair is that if the amount of time the vehicle is parked in the lot exceeds the prepaid amount then the additional amount would automatically be billed. There is absolutely no reason that could not and should not be the policy in the lot, in fact it should be spelled out explicity in the city regulations in addition to explicitly banning towing as a penalty for overstaying the prepaid amount of time. It is just not a reasonable way to operate. End of story.

I get my dander up a little when someone tries to say that "they" have had the last word in an open forum... End of Story, 'nuf said, etc. Who are you to say? You are our moderator?
The City Manager, the City Council and the Chief of Police should be paying attention to the amount of interest this topic is generating...
Also, you cannot read people's minds. How do you know that they ALL meant to pay for every minute and didn't want anything for free? I suggest that if that were the case we wouldn't need laws and rules! I do agree with the basic premise though, that people are intrinsically good or want to be good and do good. People can also be silly, stupid, forgetful and distracted. As you say, there could be a way for people to pay for every minute, if the lot owner cared to bother. Why should he bother if he isn't held accountable with laws that are (probably), already on the books? The scofflaws that manage to steal a few free minutes don't amount to a hill of beans compared to the money the lot owner and the tow company are raking in, TAX FREE! It IS unjust and unreasonable, as you say.
I do hope you will allow the fair people of Hookville to continue to comment up to the 27th!

It appears to me that the city officials really do not care about this operation. If they did we would see a requirement that tow truck operators cannot collect if the car owner returns to the car prior to removal from the parking lot. In additon, we would see a sign placed by the city, "Warning, the greedy lot owner and business associates at the towing company will tow you in a New York Second after your paid time is over."

I never park there, but if I had a dog, I would use that lot as a dog relief zone.

Boycott the lot. Spread the word near and far. If you happen to be passing the lot and see someone about to park there, give them some friendly advice about the potential ripoff. When the practice is no longer profitable for Mr Woodard, Mr Woodard will change the practice.

This all brings back bad memories of my time in Cville as well. I lived there for a year and loved the town, but I also got hosed in this parking lot on a Sunday night when I thought there would be no charge to park. Unlike most reasonable people though, I nearly got arrested because I was so upset and acted foolishly. None the less, $150 dollars later to get my car out of the fenced in lot managed by the redneck tow truck driver I went merrily on my way to work the next day to pay for my towtruck experience

@cookieJar, you continue to slay me.

People the real crime here is that the owner paid over $14M for the property and the city has not let him develop it so that he can earn the money to pay off the loan, and yet, the city has charged him hundreds of thousands of dollar in taxes on the land. If he had b een been able to develop it, there wouldn't be a parking lot there anyway. His plans called for undergound parking for his tenants.

"In addition, the standard fee for a tow call that does not entail towing is 25 dollars, not the full $120."

If that is really the case would calling the police convince the tow truck driver that he is screwing you and perhaps make him back off? Just curious.

This is why I will not take my family to the Downtown Mall. We go to Waynesboro or Short Pump, for dinner, the movies, and shopping. And you wonder why the Downtown mall is failing.

Just another example of predatory capitalism. Tow truck companies have learned from crack dealers. They don't respect their customers and vice-versa. Like at gas stations: have you noticed that the pumps slow down even earlier than they used to? They hope people will be so annoyed by having to stand there while the last 75 cents dribbles in that they will just give up and let the station keep a little of the gas each customer paid for. That is not very nice is it?

Name 1 thing that the downtown mall has that Ruckersville don't! Don't need you no more. WE GOT A WALMART!!

The is city code that governs the amount that can be charged and under what circumstances. Somebody ought to look it up.

@ anybody who says that this is why they avoid the downtown mall.....What, because of one parking lot? I've lived here six years now and have spent endless time on the mall and I couldn't even tell you where this particular parking lot even is. Obviously I've never parked there, and have found plenty of other - free, legal, non con artist scam - places to park. There are two parking garages, one on Water Street and one on Market, in addition to endless street parking, IF you're willing to drive around to find the spots. We always seem to be able to find - legal, free, non con artist scam - street parking and have never in the entire six years we've been here, had any problems. Never been towed, never been ticketed. Not once. I don't understand how people have so many problems parking downtown.

For me, *common sense* says to avoid strange little lots in the middle of a busy downtown area. Why? Because there's a 99.9999999% chance it's a 24/7 pay-only lot, and just because you don't see an attendant, and just because it looks mostly empty doesn't mean something sketchy isn't going to happen, be it towing or getting a ticket. I would never park in a lot like that even if I *could* find it. (I'm still wondering where in the heck this one lot is. I've been up and down Market and don't recall seeing it. Will have to look harder.)

Oh, and as far as indignant rich people huffing that they're going to "tell everybody they know!" about their bad experience with one parking lot and make sure nobody they ever encounter will ever step foot in Cville again, because of one parking lot, all I can say is, Grow up and stop acting like a child.

When did taking more then you pay for become OK? All of the people crying foul, can I come to place of work and pick up a gal of milk for the prick of a half gal? Can I walk out with two pairs of shoes and just say ââ?¬Å?well I paid of one I thought I could just take one more”. You people make no sense sometimes.

Agree somewhat with "booooo!" immediately above, but would also like to state that I've had it with Charlottesville's bush league version of predatory capitalists. This town is too small to continue to act like a horse's behind, which is precisely what Woodard and some of his buddies are doing. When it was owned by a human, that lot was a great place to park. It was centrally located and there was an employee, a cool little old man in a kiosk. You could actually have a conversation with him!

The developers and their toadies have been sucking all the funk and fun out of the Downtown Mall for the past decade in their quest to turn it into a narrow cavern surrounded by tall hideous revenue-earning structures. No, I don't want it to go back to the dangerous and semi-abandoned state it was in back in the eighties, but we need to strike a balance between what makes it fun and what makes it function.

jackie ragland, of course you work at UVA hospital, that explains why you can't spell!

Why should the city gov't side with suburban owners from Orange over business owners in Charlottesville?

I agree with those that state that stupidity and ignorance should not be an excuse to not pay a parking or towing fee. Don't do the crime if you can't pay the fine.

The owner has the right to collect fees for parking but it it is abominable that he gets to pretend that his hands are clean by allowing the policing of his lot by the towing companies. How about adding some signage? I can think of several possibilities: (1)a sign in EACH parking space listing the fees and penalties so that people are not misled and(2)a large lot sign soliciting feedback with the addresses of the owner's company and the appropriate city department.

well said, MightyHorse.

the omni lot is usually my first pick. sure it's a bit of a hike from the east end of the mall, but nine times out of ten by the time i get back to my car the gates are up and i don't end up paying anyway.

i've had several instances where people have parked in the spot i pay for downtown. one time i even got to meet the offender as collier's was removing his car from my spot. he pretty much gave the same song and dance..."oh! i didn't see the sign!" "i was only here for five minutes!" "there's other empty spots! why can't you just park there?" i really don't understand how the people in this article have any right to be upset. all of them admitted to either overstaying their time limit or making assumptions without bothering to read the sign to see what the rules of the lot were. it's caveat emptor. if you don't like the way someone does business, don't do business with them. i'm sure the market and water st. garages would be happy to have your business.

I wouldn't use the parking garage if I was driving a junk car worth $300. Too much breaking and entering into cars when they are out of sight in the parking garage.

@jackie ragland:

"I just wont to say i lived i this town all my life .and i no what parking all about. I work at uva hospital and iam retired and i pay for parking in agarage and pay over 800 dollers a year.and parking is really bad in that area. when you park their must be clear sizn posted understand your parking rights."

This is so over the top that there's just no way it can even be a legitimate post. Wrong spelling, bad grammar, lack of capitalization and no spacing between some words. seriuzzly come on now its like yoo whent outof youre way to mkae yur post lok as obnoxshuz aspossible.


I agree, this person is pulling your/our collective leg and is not to be believed. Who's behind the curtain?

At night there are several mostly empty parking garages that people refuse to use, either through cheapness or fears of getting attacked(Too many creepy slasher stalker movies with parking garage scenes) or having their car vandalized. Unfortunately the local cop shoppe has its priorities focused on enforcing traffic laws and reacting after the fact to other problems. Having the parking garages staffed and having foot cops downtown would help greatly with folks having confidence enough to use the parking garages, but these other problems have much to do with Americans' collective desire to park right on top of their destination and avoid having to walk. Hence the prevalence of guerrilla parking in areas proximate to mall amenities.

The people who are complaining about being towed rejected the city's two large parking garages, a flat lot on Water Street that use timed tickets and a metered lot on Water. This tells me that even if the City provided 20 parking garages and lots there will still be those who will try to get away cheaply by parking in a privately owned lot. Again, if the city would let Woodard develop his lot that he paid $14 million dollars for. his parking lot wouldn't be an issue. People always want something for nothing, even those who go downtown and spend $700 in an evening.

No, I don't get it. He didn't develop anything on the $14M property so he's not a big developer. He's boubht up a bunch of existing buildings to rent so he didn't develop them either. So I don't get how he's a "big developer." I didn't know of anything he's responsible for in Belmont either. That's City Hall's fiasco.

But that's what Charlottesville gets for voting in the bozos.

Drivers who can't follow the rules get towed, this is news? They could park in the public garages and none of this would happen (as long as they leave by closing). What amazes me is the people who park in lots that don't allow public parking and then are shocked when they get towed.

"I was only there for a second ( that's after it took the tow truck 30 minutes to get there".

Having worked next to one of these lots with plenty of signage that told people they would be towed if the park there I learned much. More then once a week there would be a tow truck and some driver "shocked" that the owner actually meant what the signs say. The outrage of the non reading driver was so indignant that I eventually came to side with the owner. I thought he was coldhearted and towing was wrong. After watching the behavior of some of these scofflaws I came to understand what a pain having a lot downtown must be.

Who would possibly be posting in FAVOR of that parking lot? Other than the parking lot owner, of course.

It might be noted that the owner of this private property received from the City a loan of going-on $1 million with which to buy the rental properties of Dogwood Housing, an excellent business opportunity in that it relies in large part on voucher-supported tenants. On the chance, however, that said loan beneficiary tired of owning said properties or felt his income from them insufficient, the City included in the gift package a platinum-plated buy-back pledge

I could care less about the profitability of the lot, but I'm against Entitled Drivers Syndrome - the disease in which a motorist believes that simply by virtue of owning and operating a motorcar they ought to be provided free stuff and given special rights. Our government has subsidized driving so heavily over the decades that many people become outraged even when a private party does not extend to them the same degree of beneficence.

@Mighty Horse-- you're comparing apples and oranges. Sure, you have every right to be upset at someone who flouts the law to park in YOUR designated, and paid for, spot. You have every right to tow them.

The people cited in the article parked in a public pay lot, pre-paid for a set number of hours *because that's the only option they were given* and were then towed immediately when they overstayed. It's predatory, and it's absolutely meant to be predatory. Doing this maximizes Woodard's profits, especially because he doesn't have to pay a flesh and blood human to man the lot. ("Create a job? Who me? No way!) Then he has this deal he's worked out with Collier's that ensures they will troll the lot in order to jump on any car that goes over by even a brief period of time. Then there are the people who pre-pay for X number of hours, but have to leave the mall earlier because the restaurant was closed, or they felt ill. That's pure gravy for this captain of industry. I went and looked at the signs in that lot today, and your chances of seeing them vary according to how you exit the lot.

Sure it's all legal, but that doesn't mean that I, or anyone else, has to like it. I have zero respect for any "businessman" that makes their money in a less than upfront manner, or who treats their fellow humans as nothing more than a means to an end. Show some grace and give people the benefit of the doubt, for the love of pete! Nobody's saying they didn't think they should have to pay for extra time spent in the lot... they're saying that towing that soon after time ran out is Draconian.

Tim Brown is in favor of the parking lot and capitalism. Make dat money, homey!

I think he was talking about wearing a short sleeved shirt

Again, it's a damn pay to park parking lot! Get over it and put enough money inthe slot and go shopping- stop complaining about the meager parking fee while you shop for outrageously priced whatevers on the mall!!

Cville Eye,

"When did Woodard become a big developer? Why exaggerate? @Old Timer, what does Woodard have to do with Belmont? How much property does he own there and what type?"

You are the one on here bragging about how Woodard spent 14 million on a single property. And we know that's not his only property, which you also know. I'd say that makes him a big developer in this area.

As for Woodard and Belmont, obviously you didn;t get the how I was trying to put parking - Woodard's Lot - and bad development choices - Belmont - into a larger contxt of Parking and Development. As in the City does stupid things to satisfy developers and loses sight of a sustainable community so they end up with a parking lot run by an obnoxious business owner, fueled by parkers who need to accept that parking costs money.

Get it now?

Answer to this is live in Orange...halfway between c'ville and richmond or even closer to Fredericksburg. Go to one of these places and leave the downtown mall just where it tourists, no traps.

I did read the article and the responses from the city. While the article points out real problems in this lot I can only laugh at a city who tickets aggressive on illegally parked cars themselves shedding crocodile tears when private folks do the same.Perhaps the city could ticket the cars instead, collect the towing companies 40% and not have to tow.

Or those same city official could have the police deal with this over aggressive towing or the could do what they do when faced with all parking problems-nothing. Like their lack of spine with dealing with Silverman and the Amtrak lot.

Do mayhem. You know who deserves it.

How can anyone complain about any consequences of their actions? Whenever I park I love to imagine the cool business relationship that I have just potentially entered with a tow company: the possibilities! Every time I Use a credit card I imagine the happy horde of collection agency workers that I now can call partners. This type of Capitalism is fun for so many reasons. Greed is Groovy.

There is a difference between what's legal and what's right. Be a hardass and say the people from Orange should suck it up, but when Louisa's bubbas catch you in a speed trap provincialism doesn't feel as good.

I never go to the Downtown Mall because parking is such a pain. The high culture isn't worth the walk. Reading this story reinforces that. Maybe an adjacent business should put up a big sign stating that it's a big racket between Mr. Woodard and Collier's towing.

Louisa runs serious speed traps, BTW. Must be a major revenue shortfall over there, not enough property taxes apparently. They've gotten me twice this year. I am never going to shop in Louisa again, and I'm telling all my friends, etc...just like the folks from Orange.

I certainly believe the circumstances here are sufficent to bring about an audit of Colliers and the owner if the lot to find out where all the cash has been going. I also think that if this guy has a business arrangment with colliers that involves kickbacks that may be something the city could regulate or require a license for. Some jurisdictions put a 1.00 towing tax and use the money to regulate the tow companise and to have leverage should they not declare the cash to prosecute them for tax fraud.

As for me I will not use colliers and if I see a business that has their sign in the parking lot I tell the manager why I am not returning. They will pawn if off an the landlord but I said I did not care. I know for a fact the Lethal towing lost at least two contracts because of customer complaints about them allowing lethal to impound on their lots.

Ny the way if you ever get screwed by a tow company look the tow truck over very carefully. If it has worn tires or loud exhaust, fluid leaks etc get the DOT number off the side of the truck and loge a complaint the the Department of Transportation. If they are going to rape you 125 bucks for a tow they can at least have to make sure the trucks are safe on our roads.

@Reality Check - i couldn't care less how woodard wants to run that lot or if people boycott him b/c of his "draconian" policies. what irks me is the misplaced sense of entitlement these "victims" of his parking lot have. "i assumed it would be ok b/c there were empty spots." "i assumed there'd be a grace period." "i assumed i could get a few extra minutes even though i didn't pay." well, sorry. you assumed wrong. i personally have never parked in that lot, and i definitely won't now after reading this article. having been myself a "victim" of the predatory towing companies in c'ville, i've learned which spots and lots to avoid. maybe the bad PR from this article will entice woodard to change his ways. but i'm not going to feel bad from someone who got towed b/c they didn't have the sense to read the rules before they parked. it's the same as claiming you didn't see the speed limit sign when a cop pulls you over. being ignorant of the rules doesn't make you a victim. it just makes you ignorant.

yes, there is no doubt that I would be frustrated if I got a $125 towing fee. Nobody is arguing that finding your car towed doesn't suck. However, upon realizing that it was towed for outstaying my pre-paid limit, I would suck it up and pay the fee being sure to never do it again. I'm no saint and am not saying a few choice words wouldn't be voiced at such an inconvenience.

Would I try to make news out of it or bring some political agenda for my having to deal with earned repercussions? Would I boycott Charlottesville and drive instead to DC or Richmond for dinner because I can't figure out how to pay for parking? probably not-- and furthermore, do we comment each time we had a good parking experience?

HOT OFF THR PRESS!!!!!! The other day I was in Charlotte North Carolina and had AWESOME parking experiences the whole time I was there... I mean every time I parked I got to eat dinner and walk around or conduct business and come back to a parked car. It was amazing. I read the sign, parked my car, and didn't once get towed. I can only hope the Charlotte weekly paper gets a hold of this truly incredible story.

This is ridiculous.
I used to work at a restaurant on the Downtown Mall and when there was not an available free parking space--or if I was running late to work-- I would park in the "Woodard" Lot. If I recall, there are signs at both entrances that say:
1.) Park,
2.) Pay,
3.) Place receipt on Dash.
The kiosk/credit-card machine is well lit and obvious.

What's the problem? Park. Pay. And if you're going to stay longer than originally anticipated, pay a little more or move your car. OR- genious idea-- Park somewhere else!

Cville Eye, if as some of the other news sources are reporting Maurice Jones gets the rubber stamp many of us were betting he would get to step into the full time citymanager position, You better not be expecting things to be getting any better anytime soon. A real manager might be able to find a win/win for teh developers and the rest of those who want a nice walking,mall. But Tolbert will walk allover Jones and continue to have his way in the city for teh loss of an opportunity for somehting good for us taxpayers.

@superMissed point, it sounds to me you should be recommending that the towing company should be taken to court for a refund. I friend of mine about ten years did so and not only did he not get a refund but the judge also charged him cost of court. And all he did was park beside the Lucky Seven on Market in order to have a one hour dinner with his wife.
@JennSilv, you must not read my posts here or on Things are never better when you put incompetent people in decision-making positions. Gary O'Connell couldn't manage his department heads either. That's why Council arranged for Aubrey Watts to serve as Deputy City Manager with both assistant CMs reporting to him. Maybe in a short while Jones will go the way of O'Connell and I hope it won't take 15 years for it to happen.

He owns four two-story buildings covering half a downtown block on Main Street facing the Mall. Since the lots are in a desgin control district, the Board of Architectural Review must approve any changes to the exterior of the buildings. It is now zoned to allow for a seven story building. Every time anyone has submitted the design of the new building, the BAR has found reason not to approve them. No approval, no building. In reality, it is not the appearance of the building but the height of the building that the BAR is opposed to, but, since it is zoned for that height, the BAR can not legally refuse permission for that reason, so they claim they don't approve other features such as doors, windows, pediments, materials, etc. As the architecutral fees continue to the point of being exorbitant, the developer gives up. At one time, not only did the BAR have the approve the design, but the Planning Commission wouldn't approve the site plan because it it had design (height) issues disguised as feature objections. Then too City Council would often demand "proffers," usally monetary, if there was any need for a zoning change or a special use permit required. All of this on top of trying to comply with city's zoning requirements that must undergo city staff approval. Notice that 216 Water Street has reduced its project by several stories in order to move the project, although the builder claims that a shorter building was more financially feasible. Developers appear to have walked away from projects on the corners of Tenth & W. Main and Ridge-McIntire & W. Main after going around and around the various bodies in City Hall.

Folks, until the poor customers, consumers, and citizens decide to oppose predatory capitalist parasites like Woodard, not much will change except they will be getting richer while the people get poorer. How to defeat Woodard? Boycott his businesses including his parking lot, challenge the codes that protect such people, you know, the rules of old dominion Virginia which prohibit some classes of people from speaking to others unless invited. If you see Woodard on the street then ask him who he thinks he his to systematically rob even his paying customers.

To "Me".
Where can you get 15000 pennies on a Saturday night? And even if you did try such a passive aggressive stunt, you'd get straightened out in a hurry about your contention that pennies were legal tender, by the aforementioned trio of characters, and would go away with your sack of pennies after being told to come back with folding money. If you doubt this thought experiment why don't you arrange to get your car towed, having previously procurred said pennies, and then go on over and slap that sack down on the counter, tell 'em how it's going to be, then get back to us and tell us how it worked out!!

Charlottesville Parking and Lethal Towing, who knew?


Red light cameras, gang attacks, women being sexually assaulted, over crowded roads, dirty towing and parking lot businesses. Not giving me much of reason to visit Charlottsville.

Boycott Woodard's parking lot and Collier’s towing.

PS: Also if you get towed by these guys pay in pennys, and make them count everyone.

Though not a resident, I have been following this thread and "what" sounds very sensible. What I would add is that signage must be explicit and available for all to see from any angle or point on the lot. At least one, in-car, eye level sign per entrance and exit (in case someone enters through an exit). There should be an ordinance that describes what, where and so on. What is so difficult about doing that and enforcing it?

In Dallas there was a lot (in a popular, touristy area - the "West End"), that put signs up very high to prevent vandalism and many did not see the signs and got towed because they did not look up high enough!

We came for dinner and a concert at the Paramount and read the options on the credit card kiosk. After the choices that were not enough time, the next one was $22.50. No wonder folks gamble on the shorter times, and the options are designed to maximize violations. We drove down the block to the city garage. Has anyone reported the tow company to the IRS? Cash business = Fraud Opportunities.

Nowadays everybody has been completely pacified. Everybody sits around passively locked up in their homes, complaining and whining about injustices, "I'm gonna write a letter!" "I'm gonna punish you with my wallet!" but nobody DOES anything. On an altnerative political blog that I frequent the author is wondering why people in America don't take to the streets and riot about the state of affairs in this country, the way they do in Europe. Well, that's because this country has been completely pacified. It's easier to whine from behind a locked door from the safety of the couch or computer than to get out there and take *action.* So, if you're mad and you've been had, then *do* something. And warn others. Don't just whine and wait for other people to step up and do something *for* you. Post a sign outside this lot, warning people and calling a spade a spade. Start a campaign to put pressure on the lot's owner and the tow truck companies he's in cahoots with. A lot of people in Cville have too much time on their hands....well, use that time to make a picket sign and stand outside the lot and protest.

Just my eleven cents! :D

Although I feel very bad for these people - they are all in the same situation. They parked and didn't pay or didn't pay enough. Someone in these groups had to have seen the signage. Maybe they should be upset with themselves and not blame others for their misfortune.

@Mark, "They've gotten me twice this year. I am never going to shop in Louisa again, and I'm telling all my friends, etc...just like the folks from Orange." I'm sure the people of Louisa is glad of that. I doubt if they want you or your friends speeding throughout their county. Stay out of Albemarle, too, until you grow up.

I wonder....would it be legal for people to say, post signs just outside this particular lot warning people about it, or "calling them out" about what they do? Citing names of who is behind it? Calling a spade a spade? People can post political campaign signs, yard sale signs, etc. What about something like this?

Why different prices they all go to the same place. Why so much they only go 2 miles. How mich would C-vill charge?

Boo you are one passive aggressive case study aren't you? I hope I'm not there when you finally flip your switch...

Why does it have to be cash? Are they not reporting this income

Why does it have to be cash? Very simple answer. Stop payments and credit card charge-backs can't be done with cash and all these people who get towed downtown would do just that if they could.

This issue has been going on for years and now the guys at Colliers are the bad guys, having temporarily displaced Lethal (Now Cavalier).
The common denominator with few exceptions is peoples' wounded attitude of entitlement that the fact they "were only going to be there a short while", "didn't see the sign" (I call BS on that), "there were only a few cars in the lot", "It was a Saturday night", etc. means they should have had the right to park anywhere they could.
Is it maybe a tad mean to turn their infraction into a chance for someone to make money off towing? Well, yes it is, but it is within my rights as an owner of downtown parking lots to do just that. Of course having the word get out about consequences makes those "pay to park, towing 24/7" signs are imbued with credibility and that's important. Boycott? Oh, come on now, we all know that won't happen.

If people would just make their peace with paying for parking, they would not be inconvenienced by being towed. By the way, those "rednecks" enjoy it immensely when the angry, usually tipsy, self important swell shows up to claim his car, puffed with indignation and is told "cash only" by an indifferent sullen woman while 2 huge tatooed bubbas languidly watch with bored contempt, and Rin-Tin-Tin eyes him with silent menace. It's a sweet spot in the town and gown culture war!

I wish that parking lot owner would a) give the lot to the city; b) find another endeavor that doesn't take advantage of poor innocent folks whether they're local or out of towners of where they park. c) he should learn to know what it's like to be poverty striken hisself. has an immense talent for ripping off poor folks.

@wasabi, get off the drugs.

The lot should have a sign that states what will happen if the time expires and that they seriously enforce it.I know that it seems like a big tourist trap, and yes there should be a grace period, but the law is the law and they are within it because they are not required to extend a grace period.

@private property rules, Mr. Woodard is probably your landlord. If he goes out of business where will you live?

Funny. Just ate this weekend at the downtown grill and the service was awful (I had to send back the incorrect dish twice!) and paid way to too much the average food quality. So i quess you were ripped off not just on parking but for your meal also. Welcome to charlottesville! This is why I try to stay away from the downtown mall and head to richmond or dc for dinner.

cville eye,
Excuuuse me, I DO NOT DO any drugs of any kind,
so don't be soooo critical of my typing style.

Cville Eye, what is the City's reason for not letting Woodard develop this lot? What does he intend to do here? I'm curious.

Listen, our culture in Central Virginia is Drive and Park for Free. In Virginia, we lack adequate public transportation, so those who live beyond walking distance of a place of business need to use their cars. Downtown Charlottesville reminds me of a "living history" tourist site with inadequate amenities for residential needs--groceries, hardware, house supplies, etc. This mini Williamsburg depends economically on fairly affluent persons who live at some distance to the mall to drive their cars, park, and patronize fairly expensive eateries, boutiques, and entertainment venues. The City should get smart and either provide better public transportation, better parking, or else better living amenities to support a real live residential community that does not depend on ripping off the tourist trade.

Lock yourself in the car. Can't tow a vehicle with aperson in it. If all else fails, excersize your right to bear arms.

No, YOU read the code. It's not splitting hairs. If you drive the car away while the truck was called, you still owe them $25 for their inconvenience. If they tow your car, you owe them $125.

Nowhere in the story does it state that anyone drove their car away and was charged $125. The couple, in fact, had their car towed--because they failed to follow the explicit rules.

BOTTOM LINE, again: Pay for 3 hours if you're going to stay 3 hours. It's something you can teach children in kindergarten.

It sounds like really you just have a problem with authority.

Like it or not, the law is all about split hairs.

No, but people just park illegally anyway. You seem to care more about this parking than most people. I'll tell you what. Why don't you get towed from the lot, pay the fine with cash that you have already and then sue the owner and towing in court since you say that they are in violation of Virginia code? You could catch a lot of wrong-doing if you do because what is in the State's code must be reflected in the City code. So you'll get the city, Woodard the the towing company whose name I don't remember because I don't have parking infractions. I'm sure the Hook would be glad to detail your story of success. This conversation seems to be going around in circles.

@cookieJar, I'm getting fat off of your cookies.

This is a good example of why I avoid Hookville like the flu. And if I can help it the parking lot you jerks up there call US 29.