I just learned that there was a rally this morning at Carrboro Town Hall where residents of Abbey Court called for the town to do more to protect them from the increasingly-discriminatory policies of their collective landlord. In short: the owners have begun towing residents' cars if they don't meet a certain aesthetic standard. It really is that ridiculous. And probably quite racist, in my opinion.
Thanks to the Town of Carrboro's new Official Correspondence archive (kudos for openness!) I can offer some background about the situation.
From: Carolyn A. Hutchison [Carrboro Police Chief]
Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2008 3:50 PM
To: Steven Stewart [Carrboro Town Manager]
Subject: FW: Towing today
Management at Abbey Court apartments is actively towing vehicles from
their lots today. We do not have any authority on their property;
however, we are dealing with this situation to the extent that we are
able. Officers are concerned that Management is towing vehicles that
belong to their own residents. Many of the residents are trying to make
ends meet and need the vehicles to get to and from work, etc.
Apparently, Management is towing cars that do not "look good." In other
words, if your vehicle has dents, needs paint, or has a cracked
windshield, Management will not issue a permit to park and Management
will tow the vehicle. As you might imagine, Abbey Court residents may
not have the means to drive a pristine vehicle, but many are paying
their rent, and now are unable to get a permit to park in their own home
parking lot. Then, their vehicles are towed from the lot; they're
responsible for the towing fees; and they have no car to get to work,
This is a bad situation. Officers have voiced their concerns to Ms.
Gill (equity issues, justice issues, practical issues related to needing
cars to work, fears of increased frustration yielding violence-tow
trucks have been "attacked" today) but Ms. Gill says she's just doing
her job and her homeowners' association backs her.
I am open to suggestions (keeping in mind that this is private
property), and I think we should let the Mayor and BOA members know
what's going on.
From: Dee Gill [mailto:DeeG...@TarheelCos.com]
Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2008 9:56 AM
To: Carolyn A. Hutchison
Subject: Towing today
Hi. I just wanted to let you know we are enforcing the towing policy
today. A couple of your officers were here last night and were concerned
there could be a riot. Officer Tripp came out yesterday morning over one
of the main trouble makers and more officers were here last night with
the same individual living in Z-12.
We are using Chandlers Towing phone # 220-5234. Your officers mentioned
there were many reports of stolen vehicles from other communities that
have enforced towing.
I also wanted to say thank you. The bus stop looks much better. The
problem of drinking alcohol is not over but it has sure slowed down
quite a bit.
Thanks again for your help and your officers help.Deedee Gill
From: Jacquie Gist [Carrboro Alderman]
Date: July 18
I went to Abby Court yesterday after work.A group of about 25-30 had gathered on the lawn in front of the office. The majority of those in the group were women and children. Two very impressive young men, fresh out of high school, were acting as leaders and translators. Our police officers arrived around the same time as I did. They were wonderful! Management had just called 911 to report the gathering. Our wonderful officers told the manager that since the people lived there they had a right to gather. The tenants are very worried and scared. I don't know why but lots of, if not all of the tenants,are having to apply or re-apply for parking permits. The leases state basically that damaged,dented etc cars can not park there. I saw some cars that had been denied permits and witnessed one being rejected. These are not junk cars! If there is anything wrong,normal wear for an old car,then it is denied a permit. Several of the cars I saw that had been denied permits looked fine-it took close inspection to find anything wrong. One had a few inches of side stripping loose and was denied a parking permit. While I was there the management was taking pictures of the people who were holding signs of protest,not sure how they plan to use them.I do not fully understand yet why all of this is happening but these folks are clearly being harassed. Some of the tenants believe that management wants to replace them with rich students or condos.I would encourage the board to vocally stand up for the tenants.
You can read much more about this in the Town of Carrboro's archive at http://groups.google.com/group/official-correspondence/browse_thread/thread/65bd28e8ef14b297