May 14, 2013
LIMA — A City Council committee is getting serious about junk autos and soon will seek landlords’ help with the issue.
The Community and Economic Development Committee discussed the issue Monday for the third time in recent months. Fourth Ward Councilman Tom Tebben, who brought the issue to the committee, said he believes a new standard needs to be enforced in the city.
“It’s been so low, and resources have been so limited, that it’s believed in the city that the behavior will be accepted,” Tebben said. “We need to raise that standard; it needs to change from a reactive to a proactive system, and we need to provide the seed money.”
The committee discussed making junk vehicles a property maintenance code violation — which would mean landlords, not the renters’ junk autos, would be the ones receiving the fines.
Council is going to set a meeting and invite landlords to solicit ideas about how to prevent the junk autos in the first place.
The committee also asked the administration for a best-case scenario, on how to use the Community Development property inspector or retired auxiliary police officer first, and then a sworn officer at the end of the process when the vehicle needs to be impounded. The committee wants to know the organization of tasks and how much time and money it would take to make it happen, and what city law changes would be necessary.
Those on the committee support creating a separate line item and new fines for the violation that would provide a revenue stream to pay for increased enforcement.
The junk vehicle issue can be a volatile issue any day. The administration has said a retired auxiliary officer would be the best option if the city is going to crack down on junk cars, boats and trailers. A Lima police officer handles most of the cases now, and he has other responsibilities.
Council has changed some its definitions of a junk auto in city code to help the process. Also, police officials and community development departments have found duplication of efforts and holes in the process and have pledged to create a more efficient system.