Woman calls Team 10 after SDPD mistake caused car to be towed

Dispatcher told woman wrong information

SAN DIEGO - A woman contacted the Team 10 Troubleshooter after she said a mistake by the San Diego Police Department caused her car to be towed and cost her $285.

Alex Hodges uses a permanent placard in her vehicle.

"I had a stroke seven minutes before I was born," she said. "I have cerebral palsy. It affected the right side of my body, so I do everything on my left side."

Her injury makes it tough to walk long distances.

"The placard is incredibly important," Hodges said. "It allows me to function."

When she moved into her new apartment, she said on-street parking was limited.

There were plenty of spaces in the business parking lot across the street, including several handicap spots.

She called the San Diego Police Department's non-emergency line.

"I asked, 'Can I park here?' I made sure to mention it was a private lot," Hodges said. "The handicap placard was registered to me, so was my vehicle and that's where I would be parking."

The dispatcher told her it should not be a problem as long as it is after business hours.

A few days later, her car was towed.

"I can't believe this is happening. I just called and asked," said Hodges.

She called back and was told she cannot park in a handicap spot in a private lot.

"And I said, 'But wait, I called you and asked you and you told me it was lawful,'" said Hodges.

She said she gave police the date and time of her call and they checked the recording.

"They said we did give you the wrong information," said Hodges. "We're sorry but we can't pay you back the $285."

The 25-year-old asked why they could not reimburse her for the cost of towing the car.

"They said we have government immunity. We are not liable for what happened," said Hodges.

She filed a claim against the city to get reimbursed. It was denied.

Hodges wants the more than 223,000 others in San Diego County with permanent placards to know what happened.

"They gave me the wrong information," she said. "I wouldn't have parked there if they didn't tell me I could."

The San Diego Police Department provided Team 10 with this statement:

"The San Diego Police Department determined complete information was not given to Ms. Hodges by one of our Dispatchers. The San Diego Police Department does not enforce this type of parking. Private property owners have the right to remove vehicles parked on their premises as illustrated in this case. The San Diego Police Department had no involvement in the towing of Ms. Hodges vehicle."

Team 10 also reached out to the mayor's office and is waiting to hear back.

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