Report an Abandoned Vehicle
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Report an Abandoned Vehicle
Public Streets
Foster City Municipal Ordinances require all vehicles parked on public streets be moved at least 1/10th of a mile every 72 hours or they are considered "abandoned" and are subject to citation and/or towing. The purpose of the law is to prevent vehicles from being stored on the street.

The Foster City Police Department handles complaints of abandoned or stored vehicles parked on public streets. Citizens wishing to report a vehicle that appears to be abandoned on a public street can call the Foster City Police Department at 650-286-3300, use the Foster City Access app or send us an e-mail, listing the location of the vehicle, and a description of the vehicle including the license plate number if possible to:

Once a complaint has been received about an abandoned vehicle, or an officer sees a vehicle he or she believes to be abandoned, the officer begins to document the violation by:

  • Marking and observing the vehicle for a period of time before actually citing or towing a vehicle. (The markings may not be outwardly   visible to the casual observer.)
  • If the vehicle has not moved 1/10th of a mile after 72 hours has elapsed from the time the vehicle was first marked, it will be subject to citation or tow, and a red warning sticker will be placed on the vehicle. The warning sticker informs the owner of the vehicle that it is in violation of a City Ordinance, and is subject to towing if it is not moved within an additional 72 hours.
  • If the vehicle has not moved after the additional 72-hour observation period, it may be towed at any time by the Police Department, at the owner’s expense.
  • The Police Department will only place a red tow warning sticker on a vehicle once to advise the owner of the requirements of the law. If there is another 72-hour violation by that vehicle, it may be cited and/or towed without another warning sticker or visible tire markings.
  • The towed vehicle’s owner must obtain a release from the Police Department prior to getting their car back from the tow company. There is an $80.00 fee for this service, in addition to whatever fees the tow company will charge for the release of the vehicle.
  • If the abandoned vehicle is considered a "Junked" car, the impounding fee is $200.00. A "Junked" car is one that has been partially or completely stripped of components, and/or is in a non-operational condition. (basically left by the owner for someone else to take care of) This fee will be billed to the last known registered owner of the offending vehicle.

As a result of this process, citizens who complain about an abandoned vehicle may not see results for a week or more.

Private Property/HOA Property

Abandoned vehicles on private property fall under the jurisdiction of the Planning and Code Enforcement Division. All inoperable, junk, or unlicensed motor vehicles must be parked or stored within a storage structure, fenced yard or garage. For further information or to report an abandoned vehicle parked on private property, you may call the Planning and Code Enforcement Division at 286-3225 or e-mail

Towing Vehicles from Private Lots (Non-residential)

If you want a vehicle towed from your private property you must first meet a number of requirements (I.e.. CVC 22658). Contact the Police Department at 286-3300 for further information or send an e-mail to

My vehicle has been towed, How do I get it back?

To determine whether or not your vehicle has been towed please call the Police Department at 286-3300. Please be prepared to provide the license plate number of the vehicle, or the location from where it was towed.If your vehicle has been towed from a public street, you will need:

  • To obtain a release form from the Police Department at any time of the day or night ($80.00 fee)
  • A valid driver’s license
  • The vehicle must be currently registered.
  • You must be the owner of the vehicle, or have written permission of the vehicle’s owner to obtain the release. We must be able to verify this permission.
  • You may then pick up your vehicle from the tow company after paying their towing charges.

    If your vehicle has been towed from private property you may claim it directly from the tow company. The Police Department is not involved in tows from private property. Any disputes over validity or vehicle damage must be handled as a civil matter.

For more information call (650) 286-3300 or e-mail

“Excellent Service—Every Call—Every Contact—Every Day!”

City Hall - 610 Foster City Blvd.
Foster City, CA 94404
(650) 286-3200