Emails Between Keystone Towing General Manager Ed Arensdorf And CD12 Field Deputy Colin Crews — And LAPD Officer Benjamin Jones — And LADOT Staffer Brian Hartman — Provide A Rare Glimpse Into The Functioning Of The City’s RV Towing Machinery — And That Ultimately These Dwelling Places Are “Crushed” — No Conclusions Here But Some Illuminating Detail

I learned recently that the City of Los Angeles opposed a bill banning poverty tows in California for no better reason than that one single lobbyist asked on behalf of his clients, the Official Police Garage Association of Los Angeles, Herb-Wesson-appointed interim CD12 representative Greig Smith to oppose it, stating that his clients couldn’t do so publicly because to do so would expose them as the greedy bloodsuckers that, in fact, they actually are.

As pointed out by the incomparable folks at KTown For All this is an example of one single person determining official policy for a City of four million people for no better reason than to keep diverting zillions of dollars of public money into his clients’ coffers. And today I have a small related story, but an important one, showing not only an unexpectedly granular level of complicity between the tow companies and the City government with respect to RV towing, but some hints about the volume of RV tows and also the scale of the infrastructure required to tow and ultimately destroy motorhomes.

It begins with a May 23, 2019 email from Ed Arensdorf, general manager of OPG Keystone Towing, to Colin Crews of CD12, LAPD officer Benjamin Jones, and LADOT staffer Brian Hartman, in which he tells them that he is forced “to put motorhome towing on indefinite hold”. And in case you’re envisioning chaos, vehicular anarchy, Mad Max but with RVs, well, don’t worry, notes Arensdorf parenthetically, this is “(except evidence, stolens and blocking driveways/intersections).”

Which essentially means that they were going to have to stop towing away RVs that people live in but they will keep on towing RVs where there’s actually a defensible reason to tow, rather than displacement and profiteering. And in case it occurred to you, there were no moral considerations at all involved in the towing hiatus. The company that crushes RVs1 was having some regulatory problems with environmental agencies.

Tangentially, the fact that Arensdorf is writing to LADOT and LAPD about this isn’t that surprising, but I was in fact surprised to see a CD12 field deputy in the conversation. It really highlights for me the political function of the City’s anti-homeless policies. There’s no thought, not even a pretense of a thought, that any purpose is being served by these tows other than building up the political power of the Council Office at the expense of the helpless vehicle dwellers who serve as the raw material for an incredibly efficient profit machine.2

And the email reveals the scope of the operation. Keep in mind that this is just one OPG out of eighteen in the City. Arendsdorf explains (on May 23rd) that his company is “currently scheduled through June 10th” and that they are actually destroying these RVs, and at a rate that surprised me. According to Arensdorf, before RV towing had to be halted he

… had 15 ready to go to the crusher. Last Friday my scrap yard contact called me and told me that I could bring them 3 everyday this week to get me caught up. From last Thursday to Monday I had an additional 5 that needed to go to the crusher making my total 20. We brought them 3 Monday, which was met with some resistance, and then 2 more on Tuesday, when I received a call to stop and hold off until today. Today he told me that they cannot take any until Tuesday after the holiday. By then the number in my yards ready to go to the crusher will be 23. And keep in mind, I have 11 more scheduled to come to impound, and of course I still need to leave some room for any evidence, stolens and blocking driveways.

And the reaction of field deputy Colin Crews to all this is a simple “Understood, Ed. Thanks for letting us know.” And then, as explained in this June 14, 2019 email from Arensdorf, a few weeks later, by June 24th, everything got back to normal and they could continue towing and crushing the homes of vehicle dwellers in, of course, addition to the “evidence, stolens, and blocking driveways” which actually had to be towed:

Good afternoon; we’ve made a lot of progress in the last few weeks now that we’re finally able to get motor homes moved to the recycler and as long as things continue as they are we should be good to go moving forward. Fingers crossed of course because we still don’t have a 100% permanent solution with them We are going to start scheduling to tow motor homes again the week of June 24th.

So that’s the story. As usual, there’s no moral, just a little peek into the functioning of this machine for turning the pain of homeless human beings into money and votes. Transcriptions of the emails follow.


From: Ed Arensdorf < EArensdorf@unitedroadtowing.com >
Sent: Thursday, May 23, 2019 9:00 AM
To: Benjamin Jones < 30236@lapd.online >; Brian Hartman < brian.hartman@lacity.org >
Cc: Eric Rose < eric@ekapr.com >; Colin Crews < colin.crews@lacity.org >
Subject: Urgent Motorhome Update
Importance: High

Gentlemen; we’ve run into an unexpected situation that has required me to put motorhome towing on indefinite hold (except evidence, stolens and blocking driveways/intersections). We are currently scheduled through June 10th which we will honor but any new requests that come through will be informed that we are on hold indefinitely. The scrap yard that normally accepts our motorhomes put us on hold beginning back on Saturday May 4 th when we brought 2 to them and they wouldn’t let us drop them, they made us turn around and bring them back to our yard. In further discussions I found that due to a problem they had with AQMD and DTSE at their Long Beach port yard and their Sun Valley location we were put on hold from bringing them any through last Friday May 17th .

This couldn’t have come at a worse time since it just so happened that I had an unusually high amount of junk slips and lien sales that had cleared to where I had 15 ready to go to the crusher. Last Friday my scrap yard contact called me and told me that I could bring them 3 everyday this week to get me caught up. From last Thursday to Monday I had an additional 5 that needed to go to the crusher making my total 20. We brought them 3 Monday, which was met with some resistance, and then 2 more on Tuesday, when I received a call to stop and hold off until today. Today he told me that they cannot take any until Tuesday after the holiday. By then the number in my yards ready to go to the crusher will be 23. And keep in mind, I have 11 more scheduled to come to impound, and of course I still need to leave some room for any evidence, stolens and blocking driveways.

I apologize for the situation but it is completely beyond my control. I will continue doing everything I can to resolve the problem. Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.

E Arensdorf
Edward Arensdorf
General Manager
Keystone/Ross Baker Towing
www.keystonetowing.com


Subject: Re: Urgent Motorhome Update
From: Colin Crews <colin.crews@lacity.org>
Date: 5/23/2019,9:14 AM
To: Ed Arensdorf <EArensdorf@unitedroadtowing.com>

Understood, Ed. Thanks for letting us know.

Colin Crews
Senior Field Deputy
Neighborhoods FIRST, Director
Office Of Councilmember Greig Smith
City Hall: 213-473-7012
Community Service Center: 818-882-1212


Subject: Re: Urgent Motorhome Update
From: Ed Arensdorf <EArensdorf@unitedroadtowing.com>
Date: 6/14/2019, 3:36 PM
To: Benjamin Jones <30236@LAPD.online>, “brian.hartman@lacity.org” <brian.hartman@lacity.org>
CC: Eric Rose <eric@ekapr.com>, Colin Crews <colin.crews@lacity.org>, “Richard Maguire” <RMaguire@unitedroadtowing.com>

Good afternoon; we’ve made a lot of progress in the last few weeks now that we’re finally able to get motor homes moved to the recycler and as long as things continue as they are we should be good to go moving forward. Fingers crossed of course because we still don’t have a 100% permanent solution with them We are going to start scheduling to tow motor homes again the week of June 24th. If you have any further questions please let me know, thanks.

E Arensdorf
Edward Arensdorf
General Manager
Keystone/Ross Baker Towing
www.keystonetowing.com



Image of Edward Arensdorf doing what he does is ©2019 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and you knew this was gonna come out!

  1. That is Arensdorf’s word, and it’s evidently what they do with them once they kick out the residents and confiscate them.
  2. On the one hand I admit that that’s an awful lot of conclusion to draw out of the small fact that Arensdorf emails a field deputy, but I stand by my analysis. Field deputies engage with constituents and dispense favors to them. What reason other than that it affects his ability to dispense favors has a field deputy to be interested if RV towing is on hold or not? What reason other than the fact that Councilmembers rely on the directed application of City resources to build political power is there to arrange things this way? If any of these people were concerned with running the actual City they’d be making policy based on facts, expert opinions, debate, and input from constituents instead of spending all their time and money reacting to self-interested housedwellers’ pissing and moaning and passing random laws just because a lobbyist asked them to.
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