Eager crews of city painters and parking enforcers have managed to render a legal parking space illegal, tow the car, and fine the innocent owner—all in one messy municipal mashup.
The crews painted a handicapped space around the legally parked car, then towed it, and issued a fine of more than $300.
Now, security footage of the workers has gone viral, leaving the embarrassed Tel Aviv municipality apologizing.
Accused of Lying
When she came home and found her car missing on Sunday (Feb. 3), a freshly painted handicapped parking space in its spot, Hila Ben-Baruch knew something wasn't quite right.
YouTube / Dedjo
A security camera shows the car parked in a legal spot (left) before city workers showed up to paint the space with a handicapped designation. The city then towed the car (right).
Ben-Baruch, the owner of the car, has lived on the street for six months.
On her Facebook page, Ben-Baruch wrote in Hebrew, "I have parked on that street for nearly half a year, [I live there] and know well where I can and can't park," the Times of Israel reported.
When Ben-Baruch called the city to ask about the car, the city worker accused her of lying, saying she would have to pay a 350 shekel (about $95) towing fee. On top of that, the lot where her car had been towed wanted 1,000 shekel (around $270) for illegally parking in a handicapped spot.
On Monday (Feb. 4), Ben-Baruch stopped into the building across the street from where she parked and learned there were security cameras pointed directly at the parking spot.
There it was, all on tape.
The video shows the car parked in a legal spot. Then city workers arrive and paint a handicapped spot around the car. A short while later, the car is towed.
Ben-Baruch posted the video on her Facebook page, and by Tuesday (Feb. 5), the video had been shared 19,000 times, receiving national news attention.
Apologies Roll In
Deputy Tel Aviv mayor Asaf Zamir then apologized for the incident and said it was all a mistake. He explained that it was perfectly fine for city workers to redesignate a parking spot, even when someone is parked there, but the workers are supposed to tell the parking inspector's office not to tow and fine the owner.
The Tel Aviv municipality responded to the incident, stating, "This was a severe mistake and a case of incompetence that the city of Tel Aviv does not accept. We apologize for the distress caused by the incident and we are examining the case so that such incidents do not happen again in the future."
The city also said that a sign was posted three days prior stating that the spot was becoming a handicapped parking spot.
The city has since released Ben-Baruch's car and waived all fines. Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai also posted an apology on her Facebook page.
However, she is reportedly still considering suing the city.