By Cheryl Brown
Four senior citizens were out of luck, and left stranded when their cars were missing following the Boys Choir of Harlems concert last week. They could not believe that someone stole their cars that were parked in the Pacific Bell (SBC) parking lot.
They soon found out from the Riverside Police Department that they had been towed for parking in the wrong place. They anguished trying to figure out what they should do. "It was late, so I called my granddaughter to pick me up," said a very upset Charlotte Beamon, one of the mothers at Life Church of God In Christ.
She parked in the parking lot because it was the only place to park near the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. "There was no sign, no one told us we couldnt park there, and I thought it was a nice gesture since they seemed to have so much room. I was even told by neighbors that they allow people attending the downtown activities to park there all the time," said Beamon.
According to John Britton, Communications Director, in the past the telephone company that is the central switching station for the region has allowed parking when the venue asked permission but because of 911 and the Orange Alert (heightened awareness for terror) status our people warned people not to park there. "We dont allow packages or unauthorized cars to park in the lot because of Orange Alert," said Britton.
The sum total of the towing cost them upwards of $1000 dollars, each had to pay nearly $200 to get their cars out. Beamon owns a 2003; the others ranged from 2000 to 2003. "I believe they towed our cars because they were late models and it is Black History month. This is big business to the towing companies," she said.
That could not be further from the truth, said Britton. We are a socially conscious company and would never do anything to anyone because of race. We pride ourselves on that," he said. He continued, "we have good signage, and we have signed affidavits that each person was told not to park there or they may be towed.
An SUV ignored the warning, as did three others. Some people did move their cars. The Orange Alert changes the security procedures. And we have towed several cars in the last 90 days, even one employee that wasnt properly identified," said Britton.
Beamon has been a customer of Pac Bell for 50 years and said she is not pleased that she was treated that way.
Why would I park there if someone told me not to and warned me that Id be towed? How much sense does that make, when we came out of the theater thats when we saw the sign: No Concert Parking," said Beamon.
"This is the central switching station for the region. All wires come into the vault at that location and connects the community to the outside world.
Those are secure environments. It is an unfortunate incident but our staff followed proper security procedures. It would not have been the same if it were not Orange Alert. We are still open in the future to be good neighbors and allow parking however the organizers must ask permission," said Britton.
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