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Junk Vehicles in Neighborhoods

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In the March 29, 2016 edition of komonews.com an article by Mark Miller titled ‘Burien cracks down on junk cars; opponents worry it will target the poor’ was posted with the following details: “Shattered windshields, missing wheels, no steering wheel, or a transmission that is long gone. Residents despising the sight of a broken down car on their neighbor’s property might soon have a new city-based ordinance to help solve their problems. The City of Burien is considering a junk vehicle ordinance giving the city the power to remove jalopies from private property.

One city council member, however, is leading an effort to derail the proposal because she believes it will unfairly burden poor individuals & families who lack the means to fix their vehicles. Lauren Berkowitz thinks using city funds to crack down on junk cars is a waste of money. She would prefer to use those tax dollars to help increase opportunities for lower-income people to improve their situations. Berkowitz says to address this problem is to support living-wage jobs and protections for workers so people can afford to repair or dispose of these vehicles for themselves, not punish impoverished residents by removing vehicles that may be an income source or hope for future income of transport. City Manager Kamuron Gurol says the ordinance would target only egregious cases of junk cars on private property and who points out junk cars can have a negative impact on the well-being of a neighborhood. Gurol feels they are unsightly and creating a sense of disorder within neighborhoods. People don’t feel as safe or as comfortable. They’re complaining to the city about the vehicle detracting from the sense of the neighborhood, detracting even from perceived property values. Gurol says a car would have to meet strict criteria to be considered a junk vehicle, and the city would give owners ample opportunity to take care of the situation themselves before officials would proceed with legal action. The ordinance would allow the city to tow away a junk vehicle if the owner fails to fix the problem, and the city could file a lien to collect the expense of removing the vehicle. City staff estimates it could cost about $25K a year to enforce a scrap vehicle ordinance. There are currently 14 open cases. Council member Berkowitz thinks the city should instead spend that money on social services. The full article is available at this link.

Ms. Berkowitz has a very foolish view on this issue for many reasons including:

  • The presence of junk & scrap vehicles in the neighborhoods has a negative economic impact on the city. It signifies that an area is blighted and hinders property values, rental prices and may deter small businesses from locating nearby.
  • The owners of these junk vehicles are not necessarily poor. They may simply be careless, may be transient renters with no concern for the area, or simply from regions where this type of auto abandonment is the norm.
  • The city should be encouraging conscientious and prideful property maintenance within the community!
  • Ms. Berkowitz apparently views the solution to the problem to be “throwing” more money at social service handouts is not a direct solution to this issue. Simply because someone is on the lower end of the economic spectrum, does not entitle them to be careless and untidy.
  • Ms. Berkowitz should consider heightening standards and promoting self-respect and pride among the citizens.
  • The bulk of her efforts are focused on the entitlement class, as clearly illustrated by her consistent support of programs as follows:
    • Medicaid
    • Unemployment
    • Homelessness
    • Preventing criminal background checks

What is a junk car worth around here?

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