BayLegal, along with 26 other organizations and individuals, has submitted a letter to the Director and Board of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) advocating for the end of poverty tows in San Francisco, and for a tow and impound policy aligned with economic and racial justice. “Poverty tows” for unpaid tickets, in the absence of a clear public safety interest, impose a hugely disproportionate burden on low- and very-low-income San Francisco residents. This is especially true for the City’s unhoused residents, many of whom rely on their vehicles for primary shelter. And in a city whose Black residents are 5% of total population but 40% of unhoused residents, the inherent, structural racism of such economic policing of poverty and homelessness demands a more just and equitable approach. Finally, the financial data clearly shows that the City incurs a net loss on tows and impounds of cars for unpaid tickets.
For further details on poverty tows in San Francisco, and for our coalition’s proposal to end poverty tows, enhance low-income payment plans, and commit to a more economically and racially just and likely more cost-effective prevention-based approach, please see our letter of June 19th, 2020.