SafeClear morphing back into $afeClear

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One of Bill White’s crowning achievements as mayor, the SafeClear program, is in the news again, and it looks as if it will be heading back in its original direction: making money!

The city’s 6-year-old free towing service on local freeways will start costing motorists $50 per car under a plan expected to come before City Council soon.


“We can no longer afford to pay for this program,” said Councilwoman Sue Lovell, who chairs council’s transportation committee and helped work out the new arrangement with city-contracted towing companies.

Then can the program. Citizens can’t afford it either. Remember the real intent of the revenue generating program when it was concocted? Repair referral$ on the west-side, and revenue from selling impounded cars on the east-side. And remember what happened when it was enacted?

Woman dies trying to stop towing of her car

Eyewitnesses say a driver lost her life Monday night because she didn’t want to have to pay for a Safe Clear tow off the East Freeway.

Panic is what happened.

Here’s Councilmember Sue Lovell: “We don’t want your cousin coming. We don’t want someone who’s not trained coming,” Lovell said.

Councilmember Lovell has the means to ensure that she can pay the $50 break-down tax which means her car wouldn’t end up in an impound lot racking up fees before being auctioned off.

Here’s Councilmember Melissa Noriega: “It was free originally we were making people do this, and we can’t do it anymore. But we have a tow that’s far below market value,” said City Council Member Melissa Noriega.

No, it was not free originally. It cost citizens $75 when former Mayor Bill White and Houston Bicyclist Bob Stein rolled it out.

And remember what proponents of the original revenue-generating program said in defense of it when began: If you don’t have a perfectly functioning car that never breaks down, then you should not be driving on the freeways, because you are inconveniencing more well-off folks. Stick to the feeder roads.

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Anne Linehan is a co-founder of blogHOUSTON.