Tel Aviv Woman's Car Painted Into Handicapped Parking Spot and Towed

Hila Ben Baruch posts video evidence on Facebook of Tel Aviv municipal workers repainting her legal spot, and wins apology and cancellation of unjust ticket.

Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior
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Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior

The Tel Aviv municipality changed a legal parking spot into a handicapped parking spot while a local woman's car was parked there and then towed the car for parking illegally without a handicapped permit.

The owner of the car, Hila Ben Baruch, threatened to sue the city after being told Sunday she had to pay a NIS 1,000 fine and cover the NIS 350 cost of towing before she could retrieve her vehicle. Fortunately for her, a surveillance camera documented the entire incident.

The video, which Ben Baruch posted on Facebook Monday night, along with her description of what happened, has been shared more than 9,000 times. She earned an apology from city hall, which canceled the fine and towing fee when she picked her car up Monday night.

"You just see it and can't believe it," Ben Baruch wrote when she posted the video, which she got from an office building across the street that has a surveillance camera trained on the parking lot.

"While my car was parked in a [legal] blue-and-white spot, two municipal workers came by and signposted it as handicapped parking! In a heartbeat they repainted the curb, from blue and white to gray. That's it. Simple," she wrote. "Within 5 minutes they turned me into a criminal. But who cares? The important thing is that Tel Aviv sucked some more blood."

The surprise paint job took place near Ben Baruch's apartment on Yehuda Halevy Street between when she parked her car Sunday afternoon and went to retrieve it that evening. Ben Baruch had a hard time believing her eyes when she found her car missing and her perfectly legal parking spot labeled handicapped only.

When she called the municipal hotline to find out what had happened, the operator accused her of lying, Ben Baruch said. He eventually told her the car had been towed by the city and that she would have to pay the NIS 1,350 to get it back.

The next morning, she went to the office building across the street to see if anyone had spotted workers changing the designation of the parking spot. She hit pay dirt when a security guard played her the surveillance video, which shows municipal workers giving her parking spot a makeover and a tow truck removing her car.

The city has acknowledged its mistake.

"This was indeed a serious error, and schlemielism that is unacceptable to the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality," the city said in a statement, using a Yiddish word for bungling. "We apologize for the distress and will examine our conduct for the future, so that these kinds of things won't happen again."

The city said it would investigate the way the municipal hotline worker handled Ben Baruch's inquiry and would issue clearer guidelines on how to answer calls.

Ben Baruch said she hoped her experience would prompt others to take action if the city treats them unfairly.

"I don't plan to keep quiet, not even for a moment, or to rest or to cam down," she wrote in her Facebook post. "I will initiate legal proceedings over the injustice and the mental distress, but more than anything over your offenses. And I call on anyone reading this post to pass it on, not to remain silent if something similar happened to you, simply not to despair."

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