The city towed away the first two inoperable vehicles this morning using an ordinance passed earlier this year that made it easier to remove them from private property.
The ordinance, passed in May, allows for the city to ticket and later possibly remove vehicles it finds “inoperable” if they remain in view of the public for too long.
Under the ordinance, a vehicle left parked in one place for 30 days will be ticketed. Both the property owner and the vehicle owner will be notified. If the car is not moved in another 30 days, the city will use a wrecker service from its rotating list to tow the vehicle to impound. A lien will then be placed on the vehicle and after 60 days at the impound lot, it will be sold at auction.
Any money made at auction, above and beyond the price of impound, will be given to the listed owner of the vehicle.
David Daughenbaugh, deputy director of municipal enforcement, said officials have been “gearing up” for enforcement ever since the ordinance was passed. He said the first notices went out this summer and the two that resulted in Friday’s first towings were placed on the vehicles in September. The notices are yellow stickers created by the mayor’s Innovation Team.
Other vehicles that have been noticed have been moved by owners, Daughenbaugh said.
While the city has previously been able to enforce laws about inoperable vehicles through its litter ordinance, those cases would have to work through the court system, Daughenbaugh said. Unfortunately that sometimes resulted in a conviction, but not in actual compliance. The new ordinance allows for relief for residents affected by inoperable vehicles in public view, he said.
Daughbaugh added that the definition of “public view” includes vehicles in backyards that are visible to the public or neighbors.
Executive Director of Public Safety James Barber said the city’s focus will be on “voluntary compliance,” which means the hope is owners of cited vehicles will move them before they are towed away. If a vehicle is towed to the city’s impound lot, Barber said, it costs an owner at least $125 plus storage fees.
Mayor Sandy Stimpson called this a “first” for Mobile and said it would go a long way to help deal with the 800 complaints the city received over junk cars in 2017. Daughenbaugh told Stimpson that the city expects to cite between 100 and 200 vehicles during the first year.
“I know a lot of citizens are happy to see these dilapidated cars out of their neighborhoods,” Stimpson said at a press conference. “It’s a big day ….”
State Rep. Adline Clarke, who helped pass local legislation to allow the city to follow with the ordinance, told Stimpson she was happy to be able to do it because the juke cars can create a “health and safety issue.”
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