No Sale: City Council Bans Streetside Car Sales

Violators' vehicles to be ticketed, towed, impounded

You see them all over town, parked on long stretches of city streets -- especially on weekends.  Cars and trucks 'for sale by owner.'

The renegade used-car fleet won't be 'street-legal' much longer. Acting on widespread neighborhood complaints, the San Diego City Council on Tuesday made them a legally endangered species.

The streetside car-sales ban has been five years in the making, with delays involving court cases. But the ordinance finally closes loopholes and puts teeth in efforts to rid the streets of unlicensed, unregulated car dealers working for themselves.

"Some of these streets eventually turn into car lots. And these cars are not only an eyesore, but it becomes a public safety issue," says City Councilman Brian Maienschein, who spearheaded the legislation. "It decreases the visibility for drivers. For the people who stop to look at them, these cars also create a hazard," Maienschein told his colleagues. "So we've seen a lot of near-misses and I think, frankly, it's only a matter of time before someone is hit and killed."

Under the measure, any vehicle -- boats included -- parked for sale on stretches of some two dozen streets in 5 of the city's 8 council districts will soon be subject to tickets, towing and impoundment. Because of court rulings upholding 'for sale' signs as free speech, officials had to make specific findings that the cars pose a public nuisance in those areas, rather than passing a citywide ban. Problem streets in the other council districts likely will be added later.

While it'll cost the affected council district budgets a total of about 60-thousand dollars for warning signs, "the good news is, the enforcement will pay for itself," Mainschein noted.

The ordinance takes effect in about six weeks. First-time violators will get a warning. If their cars show up for sale in any of the designated areas again, the enforcement hammer falls.

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