Several people attending Wednesday night's Hispanic Chamber of Commerce mixer say their cars were towed. And, they feel targeted because they parked behind the Federal Immigration Building.
"They had about five or six tow trucks and they were taking them two at a time," said Dr. Thomas Martinez.
Dr. Martinez was one of many irate car owners who found their ride hitched to the back of a Payless Tow truck.
"A car company is now towing all of our vehicles," said Brandon Manning.
"I looked out and they had my car hooked up," said Dr. Martinez.
"They just wanted our money from what I can see," said Eddie Ochoa.
About 150 people were at Jacalito Grill for the mixer. Some were parked behind the restaurant at 900 Truxtun Ave. But, with such a large event others spilled over to parking behind the Federal Immigration Building on 800 Truxtun Ave. But, the signs there warn they were towed at the owners expense.
"I thought well it's after five. They are closed. We aren't interrupting with their business hours or anything," said Dr. Martinez.
A Payless Towing representative declined to speak to us on camera. 17 News did learn the company is contracted to keep the space behind the Immigration Building clear so buses can come through. If a bus is scheduled to arrive or leave, guards will call them to clear a path.
"What amazes me is I don't even understand how the Federal Building can have private parking because it's my tax dollars that built that building," said Manning.
The upset car owners we spoke with were also concerned with various prices they were quoted to release their cars.
"They were actually asking people, 'You pay me $100 and I'll drop it.' But, everyone else, I just paid $315," said Manning.
"And, he said 'You know what, I'm going to charge you an extra hundred bucks for being an (expletive)," said Dr. Martinez.
Martinez was not charged the extra money, but was charged $120 to take his car off the tow truck. Other vehicle owners whose cars were towed away were charged nearly double that.
Payless Towing says prices do vary depending on service. And, Bakersfield Police say it's up to the towing company whether to unload a car once it's secured. And, the owner of Jacalito Grill, Nieves Rubio, wants to be sure another night like Wednesday doesn't happen again.
"Oh, lesson well learned. It's unfortunate. I would hope that we all share a common, are asked to move their cars instead of just towing them. I wish that we would all give each other the courtesy," said Rubio.