State bill could let homeless park junk cars in front of your house indefinitely
SACRAMENTO — State lawmakers are considering a bill to restrict the ability of local jurisdictions to tow away junk vehicles, which some elected officials fear would allow the homeless to park and live indefinitely on residential streets. Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost sent this email, forwarded Wednesday to PressCalifornia.com, to her constituents sharing her concerns:
Towing Away Local Control
One of the more common reasons that people from Antelope call my office is to plead for help in getting junky/abandoned vehicles removed from the neighborhood. People will purchase cars/RVs in horrible condition for extremely cheap, run them into the ground, then leave them to rot on a residential street. Many decide to use that broken-down vehicle as their home. They know the County cannot legally tow a vehicle unless it has been stationary for over 72 hours, so they drive the vehicle (or tow if non-operational) a few feet down the road to restart the 72 hours. This is a practice that angers residents, reduces available parking spaces, and greatly adds to the amount of blight.
So imagine my surprise when I found out recently that there is a bill (AB 516) swiftly moving through the California Legislature that would eliminate the enforcement tools Sacramento County uses to address these motorists who disregard basic laws designed to benefit Antelope as a whole. Specifically, it removes our ability to tow a vehicle for being stationary for 72+ hours, in addition to removing our ability to tow for having 5+ parking tickets or registration that has been expired for 6+ months.
If passed, this will allow people to live in front of homes and businesses in our neighborhood, in unregistered vehicles with unpaid tickets and expired registration, for as long as they want. I am staunchly opposed to this proposal, and will be doing everything in my power to stop it.
I have heard from some constituents who tell me they believe the 72-hour window is a bit too short, and unsuspecting residents may be getting unfairly penalized. But the 72-hour parking enforcement notice is almost always triggered by a complaint from a local resident or business when cars appear abandoned or haven’t moved for an extended period of time. By the time the County responds and issues the 72-hour notice, the vehicle has already been abandoned there for days, if not weeks.
I do recognize that this bill would provide some financial relief to an individual who chronically ignores parking violations, but I strongly feel that benefit is far outweighed by the cost it has to the greater good of the Antelope community. It is extremely frustrating to get a ticket or have your car impounded, but it is also frustrating for communities when they have to deal with increased blight.
I am also upset with the message this law would send, as it rewards people who fail to adhere to reasonable policies aimed at keeping our communities clean and safe. This is a worrying trend that is happening in California, where we seem to be rewarding bad behavior. I not only find this morally wrong, but I also believe it encourages more of this type of behavior in the future, greatly exacerbating the problem.
The AB 516 has already passed through the Assembly, but still has to be passed in the Senate, where I think it has a much harder time getting passed. I am working at getting Sacramento County to formally oppose the bill, and will be speaking with the Senators who overlap with my district about why they should oppose the bill as well. I will keep you updated later in the year when I have more information.
Thank you for reading – and as always, if you want to contact me call me at 916-874-5491, or just hit “reply” to this e-mail.