City targets problem vehicles

Rules for large, inoperable items under review

City leaders are considering changes to rules regarding abandoned, inoperable and oversized vehicles parked on public property and in public right-of-way.

The city is reviewing proposed modifications to four ordinances that would change the language pertaining to vehicles and boats in the right-of-way. The amount of time recreational vehicles and boats can be parked on public streets or public right-of-way is not changing. Parking limits will remain two consecutive days or no more than two days in a seven-day period.

However, the city is adding language that says non-motorized vehicles, including those that are hooked up to a truck, car or other vehicle meant to haul, cannot be parked on any city street, sidewalk, public right-of-way or alley, according to the revised ordinance. The proposal also addresses how the city deals with abandoned or inoperable vehicles and specifies time frames in which problems must be addressed before citations are issued.

Under the plan, which received initial approval Tuesday by the Columbus City Council, inoperable or unlicensed vehicles would be prohibited from being kept on private or public property with the exception of being in a carport, garage or other enclosure.

Mary Ferdon, executive director of administration and community development, said the goal of the ordinance changes is to clean up language and to “put more teeth into enforcement.”

In doing so, the city’s code enforcement officer and the Columbus Police Department can address issues with vehicles that have a negative effect on traffic and parking, Ferdon said.

The city generally has at least 150 cases of abandoned, inoperable or unlicensed vehicles at any given time that are eventually resolved, but new vehicles take their place, Ferdon said.

Code enforcement officer Fred Barnett such vehicles are being left on the street “month after month after month.”

But several residents questioned language within the ordinance, saying more flexibility is needed.

Among them, David Jones said if family members visit from out of town in a recreational vehicle, a stay longer than two days would violate the ordinance language.

Jones asked council members to increase the amount of time. He also said noted some individuals may not have a way to store these vehicles on their property.

Council members voted 6-0, with Tim Shuffett absent, to move forward on the first reading of the ordinance changes. A final vote could come during the council’s Dec. 6 meeting.

Councilman Frank Miller said that while the proposed ordinance changes aren’t perfect, they can be brought back up for further discussion.

What's next

Columbus City Council could take a final vote on changes to ordinances regarding parking of non-motorized vehicles on city streets at its Dec. 6 meeting in council chambers.