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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 9, 2001

Island Voices
Catch-22 results in car being towed

By Bronwyn M. Kugle
A student teacher at Enchanted Lake Elementary School

Our class at Enchanted Lake Elementary School went on an overnighter to Camp Mokule'ia. I left my van in the staff parking lot at school. Upon returning, I noticed my van was not there.

After checking with the office staff, I called police and reported it stolen. My mentor teacher's car was also missing, and after she reported it to the police, they explained that her car had been ticketed for trespassing and towed. She inquired about my vehicle and found that it had also been towed.

I called the tow company and was told my vehicle would only be released after I paid a $130 tow charge. I called HPD again and spoke with an officer who said to go to the tow company and ask them to call the police to recover the vehicle because it was considered stolen.

I went to the tow company, met the police, but the tow company still would not release my van until I paid the money. I sat there with my three children for several hours while HPD tried to figure out what happened, why my car was towed in the first place and what they should do about it.

The ticket stated I violated traffic code [section 15-16.3 (g)], "trespassing on school/public property." I explained to the police officer who arrived at the tow company that I was neither in a tow-away zone nor in a no-parking zone.

It is unsettling to think that I cannot park my car in the designated parking area located on school property while doing my job. This was a school event and I was required to be there.

Several officers suggested that had I only placed a note on the windshield explaining that I was a teacher and was on an overnighter, this would have prevented the officer from towing my vehicle. It does not prevent someone other than a police officer from approaching my vehicle, reading the note, breaking into my car, obtaining my home address and burglarizing my house.

Does leaving a note make logical sense to you?

I have called the mayor's office, the police chief, the ethics commissioner, the corporation council, my representatives, senators and countless other persons to see what can be done about this.

I write this in hopes of preventing this from happening to someone else. Teachers beware: Parking in your school's designated area could lead to your car being ticketed and towed.