Why this matters
For many, a single impound could put a vehicle out of reach for good, jeopardizing access to employment, education, medical care and sometimes even housing.
An inewsource analysis found San Diego police continue to tow cars for reasons that have nothing to do with public safety months after officials were warned the practice disproportionately hurts low-income and unhoused people.
Researchers call them “poverty tows,” which are the result of expired registrations, 72-hour parking violations and unpaid tickets. The owners of vehicles towed for these reasons are less likely to afford impound fees, and their cars are more likely to be sold at auction. The city loses money each time this happens, but owners potentially suffer greater costs — loss of their vehicles, jobs, access to education or medical care and, sometimes, their homes.
Last November, an audit recommended city officials consider other options. But not much has changed.
Here’s an interactive map that shows the percentage of poverty tows conducted by ZIP code since the audit was released more than six months ago.
Type of Content
News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.