SACRAMENTO – Yesterday, AB 1082, authored by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San José), passed the Assembly Transportation Committee. AB 1082 will eliminate the authority to tow or immobilize a vehicle for five or more unpaid parking citations and increase the number of unpaid tickets that prevent people from renewing their vehicle registration from one to six. Additionally, the bill would make changes to the parking ticket payment plan program guidelines to make it more workable for low-income Californians. AB 1082 is sponsored by End Poverty in California, FreeFrom, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Western Center on Law and Poverty.
“California has been a national leader in ending policies that disproportionately punish people experiencing poverty, recognizing that these laws do not make individuals more likely to pay but instead trap them in debt,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “Poverty tows result in snowballing consequences that threaten people’s stability and undermine our state’s equity goals. I am thankful AB 1082 is moving forward and bringing us closer to ending this unreasonably harsh punishment for parking tickets.”
Public records show that though the goal of these tows is to collect debt, poverty tows actually cost cities far more than they recover, because towing companies still need to be paid even when the city recovers nothing. This is particularly problematic given that cities have less onerous options to incentivize people who can truly afford to pay their parking tickets to do so—including adding late fees, referring the debts to collection agencies, and the threat and use of involuntary collection tools such as civil judgments, wage garnishments, bank levies, and intercepting tax refunds. The harms of poverty tows, and the economic realities that make them not just cruel but fiscally irresponsible, are detailed in a report entitled Towed into Debt: How Towing Practices in California Punish Poor People.
“Debt tows permanently disrupt the lives of low-income Black and Brown families by robbing them of their only means of transportation. Seniors miss medical appointments, victims of intimate partner violence lose long-term safety, and working-class people lose their livelihoods—all over a few unpaid parking citations,” said Zal K. Shroff, Senior Staff Attorney of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights San Francisco. “It’s time for California to end this practice that wages war against people at the bottom rungs of the socio-economic ladder.”
“When a survivor of intimate partner violence gets their car towed, they not only lose their vehicle, but in many cases their only means for safety. Being subjected to intimate partner violence is financially devastating from economic abuse, job loss, costs of relocation, and medical bills. Survivors who are unable to keep up with unpaid parking tickets should not have their long-term safety and financial security put at risk,” said Sabrina Hamm, Director of State Policy and Advocacy, FreeFrom.
“We've heard story after story from people across the state how a vehicle tow can lead to loss of mobility, loss of employment, and debt sometimes hundreds of times higher than the cost of the initial fine,” said Devon Gray, President of End Poverty in California. “AB 1082 reimagines a set of practices that, in their current form, push people further into poverty, giving California the opportunity to design a more equitable and just way of collecting fines from parking tickets.”
Assemblymember Ash Kalra represents California’s 25th Assembly District, which encompasses the majority of San José, including downtown and open space areas northeast of Santa Clara County. He was first elected in 2016, becoming the first Indian American to serve in the California Legislature in state history, and was re-elected to his fourth term in 2022. Assemblymember Kalra is the Chair of the Committee on Labor and Employment and also serves as a member on the Housing and Community Development, Judiciary, Transportation, and Water, Parks, and Wildlife committees.