Westchase residents following stay-at-home order wake up to find cars towed away

Better Call Behnken

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Four residents in the Hampton Lakes townhome development in Westchase had an unpleasant surprise when they went outside Monday morning: their vehicles were gone.

“I thought it was stolen,” said Heather Bossowski. “But then I thought, I have a minivan, the ultimate mom car. Who would want to steal that?”

Bossowski and her husband called law enforcement and quickly discovered that the minivan had been towed by a company working for their HOA.

They were then told by Automotive Towing that one of their drivers took a trip through the neighborhood and spotted her violation: one tire was touching the street and one tire was touching the grass. The parking pad is small and Bossowski can’t fit her minivan in her garage, so like some of her neighbors, she parks sideways.

“I was rushed trying to get groceries in and it wasn’t the best parking job, but I was in my driveway,” she said. “I wasn’t blocking the street.”

Bossowski said her family has taken the governor’s stay-at-home order seriously and she only leaves every two weeks for groceries. She said her husband, who recently lost his job because of the pandemic, had to break quarantine with his 72-year-old mother to pick up the minivan, while she stayed home with their children. It cost $175 to get the car back.

“This is requiring people to leave their homes at a time when they are being asked to stay home by the governor,” Bossowski said. “I could understand if I was blocking the street and this was an emergency, but this was not.”

There was no note and no warning. A representative with Leland Management, the company that handles the HOA’s business, said she can see the concern, especially during a pandemic. She said the HOA has decided to discontinue roaming towing during this time. She is asking residents to obey rules but said cars will be towed only if the HOA requests it with the tow company directly.

Hillsborough County officials, who regulate towing companies, say they are asking companies to show compassion during the pandemic and not tow for minor infractions.

In Pasco County, officials have asked HOAs to “relax” their parking rules during the pandemic, at a time when more people at home.

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