Junk cars getting attention

The city’s police department is trying to solve the problem of unregistered vehicles parked on city

The city’s police department is trying to solve the problem of unregistered vehicles parked on city streets and private properties.

Currently the city has a law in the charter prohibiting unregistered vehicles from sitting on public roads and on private property in plain view.

But the law is rarely enforced because, according to Police Chief Thomas Brownell, the procedure for enforcing the law is antiquated and ineffective.

“Basically for lack of a better term it’s a long, drawn-out dog and pony show,” Brownell said during Tuesday’s Common Council public safety committee meeting.

The way the current code is written, officers cite the owner of the vehicle who is then given 10 days to remove the vehicle. If the owner doesn’t comply, a hearing is scheduled with the fire chief presiding, who reiterates the city’s code laws.

“Ten to 20 days later the vehicle is still there,” Deputy Police Chief Victor Hugo said.

Police officials want the ordinance retooled to allow for greater latitude in enforcement. Police also want to eliminate the fire chief’s judicial role in current enforcement.

“Unless the car is on fire, I don’t see what the fire chief has to do with this,” Brownell said.

A proposed new ordinance would allow officers to put the vehicle’s owner on notice and if the issue isn’t resolved within a few days the violator would be taken to court where he would face significant fines.

Brownell said he receives dozens of complaints about abandoned and junk vehicles on private property and street curbs. But it is obvious the current law is obsolete, he said.

“I’ve been talking about this since I became chief in 1996,” he said.

According to Brownell, the law would not affect residents who take cars off the road during the winter as long as those vehicles are kept in garages or properly stored according to the city’s code.

Brownell also said the city somehow eliminated the law banning trailers that are not attached to vehicles when it adopted a revised city charter in the past decade.

Aldermen said they would agree to revise the ordinance and also take into consideration trailers and mobile homes.

Alderman Daniel Roth, R-2nd Ward, said he wanted city leaders to consider allowing no more than five unregistered vehicles at an auto repair shop. The town of Broadalbin has a similar ordinance, he said.

Policing of city noise was also discussed. Brownell said the use of a decimeter to determine the noise level is ineffective. He said the city should keep its current policy of citing individuals who cause noise based on common sense.

Brownell said he would encourage officers to be stricter in enforcing noise ordinances, especially during the summer months.

Categories: Schenectady County

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