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When you drive around Gainesville for the first time, you’ll quickly discover two problems:

  1. There’s just not enough room to park cars. Spaces are a premium on the UF campus, at many Gainesville apartment rentals (especially those close to campus) and throughout downtown.
  2. Often, the few open spaces you’ll see will be marked with “Roam Towing” signs.

Now, you might be tempted to solve problem #1 by ignoring the warnings in problem #2. Bad choice. If you do stop in a Roam Towing area, there’s a good chance that your car will end up in an impound yard, and you’ll be paying at least a $76 fine to get it back.

“Its nothing personal,” Says Stan Forron, co-owner of Elite Towing, one of the handfuls of companies authorized to haul vehicles that are illegally parked. “We’re just trying to help businesses and Gainesville apartment communities keep the spaces they need open.”


Gainesville instituted Roam Towing about 20 years ago. The main reasons:

  • Businesses and Gainesville apt. rentals wanted to limit their liability from vehicles parked illegally in their lots.
  • Businesses wanted to save spaces for their own customers so they wouldn’t become frustrated while seeking a spot and shop elsewhere.
  • Gainesville Apartment communities wanted to make sure their tenants, who were paying for parking, got first crack at the best spots.

The towing policy has worked fairly well to free up free space, though admittedly it’s drawn flack from students and others who don’t like the threat of losing their cars.


“If your car is missing and you suspect it’s been towed, the easiest way to track it down is to call the police,” says Stan. Towing companies report every vehicle they haul so the police dispatcher will be able to tell you which company has your car and where the impound yard is.

Once you locate the car, call the towing company to make sure the yard is still open. Some don’t operate overnight. To liberate your car, you’ll have to show up with cash or debit card. Towing companies won’t accept credit cards or checks.

How much will it cost you? That depends on how long the car has been in the yard. The base cost is $76, but after the first 24 hours, towing companies can start adding storage charges and other fees.

If your car has been towed, Stan asks one favor. Try not to take it out on the towing company. “It’s easy to blame the towing company, but we’re just fulfilling our contractual obligations,” says Stan. “If you want to put us out of business, the best way to do it is to read the signs and obey the laws.”

Printed with permission of Insite Magazine.