FOSTER CITY (CBS 5) – More than 50 car owners are still upset over a massive July 4th towing operation at a Foster City shopping center.
In all, 53 cars were towed from The Marketplace on the afternoon of the holiday. Many of those car owners said they were patronizing stores and restaurants in the center at when the towing occurred.
Shawn Kung was one of the unlucky car owners. "It was just the worst experience," he told CBS 5 ConsumerWatch. Kung said his Honda disappeared while he treating his family to lunch.
"I was looking for my car, frantically running around. Where did I park my car? I couldn't find my car," he recalled.
Kung's car had been towed to Redwood City, and it cost him $435 to get it back. "They added additional charges because of the holiday," he said.
The Marketplace's parking lot is filled with signs that said "Customer parking only." But Equity Office Properties, the owner of the shopping center, told CBS 5 an additional one-hour parking restriction was added on July 4th because of a planned evening fireworks show at a park across the street.
"Prominent signs were posted," said Andrew Nealy of Equity Office Properties.
But, Kung insists the signs weren't obvious, and the information that violators would be towed was missing. "They simply said one-hour parking and that was it," Kung recalled.
Additionally, Kung said the restaurant he visited failed to give him a parking voucher that might have prevented the tow. The restaurant, ABC Seafood, told ConsumerWatch the vouchers were issued "only upon request." ABC Seafood has offered Kung a $100 gift certificate "to resolve any ill feelings."
Foster City police said the incident kept their phones ringing off the hook on the busy holiday, as angry car owners called wondering where there cars where. "It impacted us severely," Lt. Frank Derris said.
Derris said private property owners can change parking rules with no advance notice. "If you have any questions about whether you should park there, ask somebody."
The Marketplace said the one-hour holiday restriction was put in place four years ago.
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