Vandalized signs cause parking chaos at Woodlands apartment

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A woman is crying foul after her car was towed from an unmarked parking spot just a few steps away from her apartment.

A woman from The Woodlands has a warning to drivers across the Houston region: Be careful where you park.

Her warning comes after her rental car was towed from an unmarked spot in her apartment complex, Hyde Park at Wyndemere Lake, and taken 20 miles away to Acres Home. They gave it back to her free of charge, but she says that's not the point.

"I'd switched vehicles, so I parked over there to not get towed," says Cameron Watkins.

But Watkins' plan backfired. Her rental car was towed Friday morning from a spot just feet from her door.

"I have parked in that spot," she says. "I've told guests to park in that spot. It's a blacked spot, so I just guessed they were giving extra room for people who live there to park."

The apartment manager says this is one of a handful of spots that is actually designated permit parking. She tells me a resident blacked the marking on the ground out. She didn't know the exact date of this offense, but Watkins tells us the spots have been blacked out since she moved into her apartment in July.

The apartment manager tells us the company they contract with, Harris County WRIT Towing, was told not to tow from those spots for the time being.

"I feel like people are getting taken advantage of," Watkins says. "One guy, a neighbor said they towed my car before and I've had to get it back. Another lady was arguing with him because she said I had to pay for my tow."

The owner of Harris County Writ tells Eyewitness News he didn't know there was a problem until he spoke with the apartment manager Monday. They spoke right after we called. He says they're not allowed back on the property at all until the spots are repainted. Apartment management hopes to have that done this week.

"I think it should be done a little more urgently," exclaims Watkins. "We have on-site maintenance crew. I don't understand why they just couldn't get the spot painted."

The tow company owner says apartment complexes are not required to label individual spots. He says they need is signage at the entrance, which Hyde Park at Wyndemere Lake has.

Wherever you are, if you're towed and you think it was illegal, you have a few rights. You have 14 days to request a probable cause hearing in Justice of the Peace court. Make sure you get your car out ASAP to avoid extra storage fees and take pictures of the spot from where you were towed. You can also file a complaint online with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

Watkins didn't have to pay for her tow, but she says it's the principle.

"You don't know how many people have gone through and paid that $296 and went to work a day late."

Since her towing experience, she says she's already stopped one neighbor from parking there.
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