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BACKGROUND •ÊTow firms, drivers and the city wrangle over vehicles in bad spots

Portland's towing industry has threatened to sue over a new set of regulations concerning the impoundment of vehicles on private property lots.

Consumer advocates, meanwhile, want the city to get tough on the towing companies. The private property impounds, or PPI tows, cost an average of $234 per vehicle, and people who cannot afford to pay risk losing their vehicles at auction.

The conflict between the two sides is intensifying, with the matter set to come before the City Council on Wednesday. Under the current proposal, the average cost to the consumer would be $177. Members of the towing industry say that amount is too low; some consumers say it is too high.

According to the city's now-embattled towing coordinator, Marian Gaylord, 22 companies are licensed to perform PPI tows in Portland, and they tow about 10,000 vehicles each year. Gaylord's office has received more than 440 complaints about tow companies since 1996.