COMMON Q&A: JUNKED VEHICLES
My neighbor runs a mechanic shop and does break tags and oil changes out of his front yard. The cars are not ‘junked,’ but he is running a commercial business out of his home. What can be done about this?
These cases are processed as zoning violations and can be more time-consuming because the office must investigate and collect evidence of illegal activities, which is often more difficult than observing the state of vehicles, structures, and/or property. Please report cases to Code Enforcement, so investigation proceedings may begin.
What if my neighbor’s car is dirty, but not rusted, inoperable, or partially dismantled, etc…Is this a violation of the Code?
No: a dirty car is not a violation of the Code.
My neighbor’s car has a flat tire and is parked in the front yard of his house, is this a violation of the Code?
If Code Enforcement receives a compliant regarding a flat tire, a 7-day monitor tag will be posted on the vehicle and—if possible—the inspector will attempt to advise the property owner to fill the tire as soon as possible. If filled within 7-days, the monitoring period will end and no violation tag will be issued. In these circumstances, Code Enforcement advises the public to work with their neighbors to resolve, if possible.
How is the term ‘junked vehicle’ defined and how is it being applied? For instance, are small rust spot or series of small spots going to result in my vehicle being tagged and towed? Dents? Dings? A bent bumper? Or is more substantial damage required to initiate tagging?
A junked motor vehicle means a vehicle that is in one or more of the following conditions: (1) wrecked, (2) rusted, (3) dismantled or partially dismantled, (4) burned or partially burned, (5) inoperative, (a) abandoned or discarded, or (5) a total loss. (Sec. 26-6 of St. John the Baptist Code of Ordinances). For more information on what it means to be ‘inoperable,’ ‘abandoned’ or a ‘total loss,’ please refer to the Code of Ordinances, as these terms are further defined for clarity.
Further, the nuisance declared (Sec. 26-50 of the Code) with regards to junked vehicles states that “the presence of inoperable, abandoned, or junked vehicles within the Parish generates conditions that may reduce the value of surrounding property; promote blight and deterioration; invite plundering; and create fire hazards that threaten the health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens of St. John the Baptist Parish.”
Within this context, small series of rust spots, dents, dings, or a bent bumper are often—by themselves—too insignificant to be considered blight and result in a violation of the Code. As demonstrated by Sec. 26-50, the intent of Code is to cause the removal of vehicles that call significant, negative attention to themselves to the extent that they may reduce the value of surrounding property, which is a primary consideration when determining whether or not a vehicle is junked and in violation of the Code.
What if my neighbor’s car hasn’t moved in 3 months? Is it junked and can it be removed?
If the vehicle is in moderately good condition and does not exhibit conditions associated with blight and the definition of a junked vehicle—no—i.e. the length of time that a vehicle remains in one place is not a factor that is considered when determining whether or not the vehicle is junked.
I was recently in a car accident and my front hood is bent, one tail light is out, and I need to schedule a time for my mechanic to repair it. Is it alright for me to park my vehicle in the front yard while I wait to bring my car to the mechanic?
Yes, the Code permits residents to store a junked vehicle in their front yard for up to 7-days for this very reason, but be advised that you may receive a 7-day monitoring tag while the vehicle is parked in the front yard. This is OK: this tag is used to simply facilitate monitoring; however, should the vehicle remain in the front yard more than 7-days, it will be tagged with a 5-day violation notice.