City to review ordinance impacting wrecker drivers

Published 12:28 am Thursday, February 2, 2023

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City councilmembers and staff are reviewing a recently amended ordinance that prevents wrecker drivers from parking in residential areas.

“Recently y’all passed a wrecker ordinance amending the ordinance that a tow truck is not allowed to be parked at a house in the city limits of Port Arthur,” said Jason Kotz, owner of Airport Gulf Towing and Recovery and Kotz Towing and Recovery in Nederland.

“I personally have two employees that live in the City of Port Arthur. They pay taxes. Everything they do is in Port Arthur.”

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Kotz, who was the first of three wrecker drivers to address the Port Arthur City this week, said personnel have 25 minutes to respond to a scene from the time the call is received.

“With this ordinance that y’all have passed, that means my drivers cannot be on call and have their wreckers parked at their residence in the City of Port Arthur, where they live, to go get this car or vehicle — whatever the scene they have to go to,” he said.

“In other words, y’all want them to park outside the city  — I’m assuming — and drive their personal vehicle to get the wrecker, respond to the call, go back, park the truck, and come back and live at their house.”

Because of the new specifications in the ordinance, he added, he may have to replace his Port Arthur-based employees.

According to information from City Attorney Valecia Tizeno, the ordinance has been in place for years and was amended in November.

“Basically this is something that was in the zoning ordinance,” she said. “It’s always been in the zoning ordinance. But a request was made to add it to the wrecker ordinance. The zoning ordinance does not allow certain types of vehicles in residential areas. So this has always been in our zoning ordinance. And it’s not just a wrecker, it’s any type of…commercial-type vehicle.”

On Nov. 8, council unanimously voted to add a subsection to the ordinance regarding wreckers that prevents them from being parked “in any open parking space, garage, carport, driveway, front yard or similar parking facility in a residential district” when not being operated to tow or remove a vehicle.

Following presentations, councilmembers this week spoke on supporting a review of the addendum, as well as ensuring provisions are in place to prevent certain eyesores.

“There are some things that can be worked out. We are taking in what your concerns are,” Mayor Thurman Bartie said. “We’ll study it as a council, look at it. And if it needs to be amended at a proper time, we’ll put forth an amendment.”