Abandoned vehicle ordinance might change in coming months
COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council is reviewing an abandoned vehicles ordinance and comparing to similar-sized towns and cities in Missouri.
A recent report shows there are two main differences that distinguish Columbia's ordinance. First, it only allows 24 hours before an abandoned vehicle can be towed. And second, it does not require prior notice to the owner of the vehicle.
The report stated common regulations among most areas allow a 48-72 hour time frame before towing can occur and require prior notification to the vehicle's owner.
Abandoned vehicle ordinance 14-546 "forbids abandonment of vehicles on the same street for more than 24 hours."
The report said there is more time is allowed for vehicles parked on private property: "Cars parked illegally on private property can only be towed after 48 hours (Sec. 14-551) and a wrecked vehicle can be towed from a private property after 72 hours (Sec. 14-550)."
The report examines different abandoned vehicle ordinances, including those of Missouri cities like Springfield and Jefferson City. Springfield allows 48 hours with no prior notice. And Jefferson City allows 72 hours.
Columbia Resident Daniel Evans said he pressed for changes in Columbia's abandoned vehicle ordinance.
"It started off when I parked my car at my friend's house and had left it over there and I guess I parked it on a Sunday night, and I live downtown, so I don't really have a lot of need to drive, so I hadn't picked it up yet," Evans said.
"And my friend called me on Tuesday and said, ‘hey did you come pick up your car?' and I said no. After calling the police I found out I got towed and had to pay 160 dollars to get my car back even though it was parked legally on a street," said Evans.
"I understand that there is parking concerns around the campus and everything with kids leaving their cars there," he said. "I can see how it can become overcrowded."
Evans said he was towed while parked in a Green Meadows subdivision. He said parking did not seem to be an issue there.
"There's no provision in the law that says it can't be in front of your own house. If it's on the street within 24 hours they can tow it," said Evans.
"As far as other cities, we are the only city with a 24-hour notice. That's why we are going to push it back to 48 or 72," Evans said.
Columbia Police Department Information Officer Bryana Maupin described the current abandoned vehicle procedure.
"Normally the whole procedure would start with a complaint being called into joint dispatch on an abandoned vehicle. At that time either a community service aid or an officer would go out to look at the vehicle, would mark the vehicle, they usually mark the tires to see if it's moved then when they come back the next day. They would also ticket the vehicle with a red note on your windshield stating that you have 24 hours at this point to move your vehicle, or it will be towed," Maupin said.
"The next day the CSA or officer will come back and will look at the vehicle to determine if the vehicle moved or not," Maupin said.
City Councilman Michael Trapp said, right now, the city is looking at a 48-hour ordinance excluding downtown. Surrounding neighborhoods with parking issues may be included. The ordinance will be under review for the next couple of months.