TOW APPEAL HEARING RULES AND REGULATIONS BEFORE THE HEARINGS OFFICER OF THE CITY OF PORTLAND
Administrative Rules Adopted by the Auditor's Office Pursuant to Rule-Making Authority
1. General Information
A. Purpose. These rules and regulations establish procedures to request a tow hearing, to schedule, reschedule and conduct hearings, and to prepare orders and findings.
B. Authority. Portland City Code 16.30.420 B. authorizes the Hearings Officer to establish rules and regulations to conduct tow hearings, consistent with Title 16.
C. Modification or Waiver of the Rules and Regulations. The Hearings Officer may modify or waive any of these rules and regulations in the interest of fairness or justice for good cause shown, consistent with Portland City Code Title 16.
D. Definitions. The following definitions apply to the Tow Appeal Hearing Rules and Regulations:
Appellant. The person or persons granted a tow hearing. Persons who may be legally eligible to have a tow hearing are defined below under Demonstrated Interest and/or Owner.
Bureau. The government agency authorized to order a tow. These include City of Portland bureaus and any agency with a current, approved intergovernmental agreement with the City of Portland.
Continued Hearing. A Hearings Officer has sole discretion to halt an ongoing hearing and order that a continued hearing take place at another date and time.
Demonstrated Interest. Written evidence of a documented financial interest in the towed vehicle.
Disruptive Conduct. Disruptive conduct in a hearing is conduct by a person that interferes with the normal hearing process, as determined by the Hearings Officer.
Hearings Officer. The person authorized to hold a tow appeal hearing and render a decision, described in Portland City Code 16.30.450.E or in any intergovernmental agreement between the City of Portland and another agency/jurisdiction.
Hearings Office Website. The Internet location with general information regarding hearings conducted by the Hearings Officer, including general directions to the Hearing Room, relevant code and rules, and answers to frequently asked questions.
In Storage. An in storage towed vehicle is one being held in a storage facility that is not in the custody of the Owner.
Interpreter. A person with sufficient fluency to communicate with a person who does not speak English and accurately translate the communication into English. Interpreter also refers to a person who assists or aides another person due to deafness or other physical impairment.
Legal Representative. The Appellant's attorney or another person having the Appellant's signed written consent to act on the Appellant's behalf.
Owner. The person who is the title holder, registered owner, lien holder, or person in possession of an official bill of sale document dated not more than 30 days before the tow occurred.
Received. The date and time a document is time stamped as received in the Hearings Office. This definition does not include the date and time a document is faxed, mailed or otherwise sent or delivered to the Hearings Office. The Hearings Office does not accept documents via email.
Timely. A document received by the Hearings Office within the time limits established in Title 16 of the Portland City Code.
Vehicle. Any item defined as a vehicle in Title 16 of the Portland City Code.
2. Requesting a Tow Hearing
A. Form of Request
(1) Tow hearing requests must be submitted on forms prepared by the Hearings Office. Forms shall be made available to the public at the Hearings Office and on the Hearings Office Website.
(2) If the Hearings Office receives a Tow Hearing Request Form that does not contain all the required information, the Hearings Officer may deny the request.
(3) The person requesting the hearing must state, on the Tow Hearing Request Form, the reason or reasons why the tow or proposed tow is believed to be invalid or unjustified. The issues to be determined at hearing shall be limited to those set forth in the Tow Hearing Request Form.
B. Deadline to Request a Tow Hearing (to be Considered Timely)
(1) A tow hearing request is considered timely if it is received at the Hearings Office not later than the close of the business day, ten (10) calendar days after the vehicle was towed.
(2) A tow hearing request is considered a late request if it is received at the Hearings Office later than the close of the business day, ten (10) calendar days after the vehicle was towed.
(3) If a tow hearing request is received at the Hearings Office on a Saturday, Sunday, or recognized City of Portland holiday, the request shall be deemed received on the next business day. If the deadline for filing an appeal is on a Saturday, Sunday, or recognized City of Portland holiday, the deadline shall be extended to the next business day.
C. Who May Request a Tow Hearing
(1) The Owner. A towed vehicle's owner (or that person's legal representative) may request a tow hearing.
(2) Person Other Than the Owner. A person with a demonstrated financial interest in a towed vehicle or that person's legal representative.
(3) Only One Hearing per Tow. When a tow hearing request is granted, any subsequent hearing request for the same towing event will be denied. Any dispute between the Appellant and another person who requests a hearing concerning the same vehicle tow must be resolved in a forum other than the Hearings Office.
D. Appellant's Authorization for Representation
The Appellant may authorize, in writing, someone to represent them at the hearing. The Appellant must complete and sign Section C of the Tow Hearing Request Form. Failure to complete Section C of the Tow Hearing Request Form may cause the Hearings Officer to deny the Appellant's request for representation.
E. Tow Hearing Request for a Vehicle in Storage. It is the responsibility of the person requesting a tow hearing to indicate on the Tow Hearing Request Form whether the towed vehicle remains in storage.
F. Late Tow Hearing Request
(1) The Hearings Officer will not consider a late hearing request unless the person filing the request submits a fully completed Tow Hearing Request Form, Sections A and B, including the reason why it is late.
(2) Requests Received 30 Days After Tow. Hearing requests received by the Hearings Office 30 days or later after the vehicle was towed shall not be granted.
3. Notice of the Hearing
A. General Rule. The Hearings Officer shall schedule the time and place of all hearings. As a courtesy only, a written notice of the tow hearing scheduled time and place will be mailed to the Appellant at the address provided in the Tow Hearing Request Form. However, it is the Appellant's responsibility to timely inquire about the date, time and place of the scheduled hearing.
B. Notices for in Storage Vehicles. If the Request for Tow Hearing Form indicates the vehicle is in storage, the Hearings Office must hold a hearing within 72 hours (not including Saturdays, Sundays, or recognized City of Portland holidays). Written notice of the hearing will likely not be received by the Appellant before the scheduled hearing date and time. It is the Appellant's responsibility to timely inquire about the date, time and place of the scheduled hearing.
C. Notice to the Bureau that Ordered Towing the Vehicle. The Hearings Office will send a hearing notification and a records request to the bureau that ordered the vehicle towed. If the hearing is subsequently rescheduled, no additional notice shall be provided to the Bureau. It is the Bureau's responsibility to timely inquire about hearing reschedules.
D. Hearings Office Calendar. A calendar of scheduled hearings is available on the Hearings Office Website. The calendar is subject to change. A person may contact the Hearings Office by phone or in person to obtain the most up-to-date information.
4. Requests to Reschedule a Hearing
A. General Rule. An Appellant may request to reschedule a tow hearing by submitting, in writing, a signed Request to Reschedule Form. The Hearings Office must receive the Request to Reschedule Form no later than forty-eight (48) hours before the scheduled hearing (not including Saturday, Sunday, or recognized City of Portland holidays). The Hearings Officer has sole discretion to grant a request to reschedule. It is the Appellant's responsibility to timely inquire about whether the hearing has been rescheduled.
B. In Storage Vehicle. If a hearing is approved and rescheduled per an Appellant's request, the vehicle owner is responsible for any storage costs occurring after the date and time of the originally scheduled hearing.
5. Hearings Procedure
A. General Rule. The manner of conducting all tow hearings is subject to the Hearings Officer's sole direction, control and discretion.
B. Telephone Hearings. Hearings by telephone are not available.
C. When Hearings are Held. All hearings are scheduled within the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday (not including recognized City of Portland holidays).
D. Hearings Start Promptly at the Scheduled Time. Tow hearings begin promptly at the scheduled date, time and place. Persons arriving late may lose the opportunity to present their case or to hear other parties' testimony. The Appellant, or the Appellant's legal representative, must be prepared to present his or her case to the Hearings Officer, including witnesses and documentary evidence. Hearings will not be rescheduled for late arrivals.
E. Standard of Proof. A tow will be found valid if the Hearings Officer finds that all procedural and notice requirements were met, and that the person ordering the vehicle towed followed all relevant laws and regulations.
F. Oral Testimony. An Appellant may testify at the hearing and have one or more witnesses testify on his or her behalf. The bureau ordering the tow may be represented, and may provide witnesses, at the hearing.
G. Testimony under Oath or Affirmation. Parties or witnesses making an oral statement will be requested to do so under oath or affirmation to state the truth.
H. Written Evidence.
(1) Written or printed evidence (including photographs) may be submitted before or during the hearing. Appellants will be provided one copy, at no charge, of any documents submitted by the bureau that ordered the vehicle towed.
(2) All evidence submitted into the evidentiary record becomes Hearings Office property and will not be returned.
(3) Other than as provided in 5.H(1) above, requested copies of evidence in the record will be provided as staff time permits, and charged to the requester per the City of Portland Fee Schedule.
I. Rules of Evidence. Evidence of a type commonly relied upon by reasonable, prudent persons in conducting their important affairs shall be admissible. Irrelevant, immaterial, redundant, or unduly repetitious evidence shall be excluded.
J. Evidence submitted other than by oral testimony or written form. Evidence other than oral testimony or in writing may be offered, and will be admitted in any format, subject to the following limitations:
(1) If equipment, technology, or computer programs are required to access or present evidence, the person offering such evidence is responsible for providing and setting up the equipment or programs. Set up must be done before the scheduled start of the hearing, and must not disrupt the hearing process. Such equipment, technology or programs shall be removed immediately after the hearing concludes. The Hearings Office does not supply equipment, technology or programs (including, but not limited to projectors and computers).
(2) The Hearings Officer will consider evidence presented before or during the hearing, but will not attempt to open any computer DVD/CD file and/or program unless the format is compatible with current Hearings Office technology, and does not require installing or downloading an operational program. Hard copies of presentations (including, but not limited to photos and PowerPoint presentations) are recommended as a supplement to presentations made via computer/DVD/CD files and programs.
K. Legal Representation (Attorney). An Appellant has the right to be represented by an attorney.
L. Hearings are Recorded. All hearings are recorded. A copy of the recording is posted on the Hearings Office Website within three business days following the hearing date. If preferred, the Hearings Office can make a copy of a hearing recording for a fee per the City of Portland Fee Schedule. Requests must include the case number, Appellant's name and the fee. Requested copies will be provided as staff time permits, subject to meeting the above requirements.
M. Hearings Officer's Right to Exclude Persons from a Tow Hearing. The Hearings Officer may expel/exclude any person from the Hearing Room if that person engages in disruptive conduct. An expelled person may not re-enter the Hearing Room. If an Appellant is expelled, that person, by his/her behavior, is deemed to have waived his/her right to offer in person any additional testimony or argument related to the tow. The expelled person may only submit additional written evidence, before the hearing closes, through an agent or representative.
A. General Request. Appellants are encouraged to provide their own interpreter for the hearing.
B. City Assistance. The City will endeavor to provide, at the City's expense, a qualified language interpreter for those needing such assistance. The Hearings Office must receive a written request meeting the following requirements:
(1) The Hearings Office must receive the request not less than forty-eight (48) hours before the scheduled hearing (not including Saturdays, Sundays, or recognized City of Portland holidays). If the request is late the scheduled hearing may still take place, at the Hearings Officer's sole discretion.
(2) Contents of the written request:
• Name of the person needing a qualified interpreter.
• If a translator is needed, the language (including any regional dialect) of the non-English speaking person.
• Statement that the person will not be able to effectively understand and/or communicate at the hearing without the requested assistance.
C. If An Interpreter Cannot be Arranged before the Originally Scheduled Hearing Date. If interpreter assistance cannot be arranged in time for a scheduled hearing, the Hearings Officer may continue the hearing to a date when the requested assistance can be provided. If the hearing involves a vehicle in storage, the City will not reimburse any storage charges accruing against the vehicle after the date and time of the originally scheduled hearing.
D. Oath/Affirmation. The person providing assistance shall be required to state his/her name and mailing address for the record and assent to the following:
"I swear or affirm that I am qualified to provide [describe assistance to be provided] assistance and will make a true and impartial translation/interpretation of the proceedings in an understandable manner using my best skills and judgment."
7. Hearings Officer's Findings and Orders
A. Content. Written findings shall explain the facts and rules related to the vehicle being towed and the reasons why the Hearings Officer determines the tow to be valid or invalid.
B. If the Tow is Found Invalid.
(1) If a tow is found to be invalid for a vehicle that is not in storage, the refund process shall begin after the Hearings Office receives a legible copy of the tow receipt. The refund will be issued and mailed to the Appellant.
(2) If a tow is found to be invalid for a vehicle that is still in storage, a Notification of Invalid Tow Form with the Appellant's name and vehicle information will be given to the Appellant at the hearing. If the Appellant fails to appear at the hearing, it is the Appellant's responsibility to promptly pick-up the Notification of Invalid Tow Form from the Hearings Office during normal business hours.
8. Requests to Reopen the Record After the Hearing is Closed
The Hearings Officer may reopen a tow hearing case for good cause shown upon receiving a written request submitted by the Appellant. Cases will not be reopened after 30 days of the date of the Hearings Officer's Order.
Pursuant to the provisions of Section 16.30.420(B)
of the Municipal Code of the City of Portland, the attached Rules and Regulations for Hearings before the Tow Hearings Officer of the City of Portland are hereby ADOPTED.
Adopted by Code Hearings Officer pursuant to 16.30.420(B) of the Municipal Code of the City of Portland, Oregon November 28, 1980, April 27, 1993, and December 16, 2010.
Filed by the City Auditor for inclusion in PPD November 8, 2007.
Revised administrative rules adopted by the City Auditor December 17, 2010.