Commissioners ready to approve junk vehicle law

Monday, May 21, 2007

Peninsula News Network

Clallam County commissioners are ready to vote on a tough new ordinance for cleaning up junk vehicles, and unless an unexpected problems develop, it appears the board will approve the controversial law.

County leaders have spent several months attempting to work out the details of a new “junker” law replacing the existing ordinance, used to effectively cleanup several hundred derelict cars since the late 90s.

County staff maintain they need tougher rules to tackle what they claim is “environmental damage” from junk cars on private property. At a public hearing several weeks ago, that position gained support from many speakers, not so much on the point of protecting the environment as protecting private property values. However, advocates of property rights are worried about the precedence set by the new law, and hobbyists worry what will happen to cars with legitimate collector value.

Department of Community Development staff have tweaked the first draft of the ordinance from earlier this spring and believe they’ve come up with a version to meet with the commissioners’, and the public’s approval. The new language makes provisions for “historical” cars, giving restorers a year to do something with legitimate collector cars. It sets priority for dealing with car cleanups, so the county could focus on the worst problem properties first regardless of citizen complaints.

But the new rules still contain stiff fines and legal problems for car owners, setting higher thresholds to determine what is a “junk vehicle”, including age requirements of just 3-years. That already has opponents talking about a court challenge even before the ordinance is approved.

Commissioners will discuss the rules one last time during a work session at 9am Tuesday morning, with the board expected to vote on the ordinance during their regular meeting at 10am. 


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