Chapter 9.56
ABANDONED AND WRECKED VEHICLES ON PRIVATE AND PUBLIC PROPERTY, EXCLUDING STREETS AND HIGHWAYS

Sections:

9.56.010    Purpose of provisions—Public nuisance.

9.56.020    Definitions.

9.56.030    Exceptions to provisions.

9.56.040    Administration and enforcement.

9.56.050    Chapter provisions not exclusive.

9.56.051    Abandonment prohibited.

9.56.052    Presumption of abandonment.

9.56.060    Removal—Franchise or contract authorized.

9.56.070    Removal—Costs.

9.56.080    Removal—Notice of intent—Form and contents.

9.56.090    Abatement performed by County.

9.56.100    Hearing before removal.

9.56.110    Removal and disposition of vehicle.

9.56.120    Notice to State Department of Motor Vehicles.

9.56.130    Removal—Cost assessment.

    Prior legislation: Ords. 1105, 1582, 1705, 2165, 2395; prior code §§ 10.05.010—10.05.120.

9.56.010 Purpose of provisions—Public nuisance.

In addition to and in accordance with the determination made and the authority granted by the State under Section 22660 of the Vehicle Code to remove abandoned, wrecked, dismantled or inoperative vehicles or parts thereof as public nuisances, the Board of Supervisors makes the following findings and declarations:

The accumulation and storage of abandoned, wrecked, dismantled or inoperative vehicles or parts thereof on private or public property in the unincorporated area of the County is found to create a condition tending to reduce the value of private property, to promote blight and deterioration, to invite plundering, to create fire hazards, to constitute an attractive nuisance creating a hazard to the health and safety of minors, to create a harborage for rodents and insects, and to be injurious to the health, safety and general welfare. Therefore, the presence of an abandoned, wrecked, dismantled or inoperative vehicle or part thereof, on private or public property, excluding streets and highways, in the unincorporated area of the County, except as expressly hereinafter permitted, is declared to constitute a public nuisance which may be abated as such in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. [Ord. 4768 § 1, 2004; Ord. 4675 § 1, 2002; Ord. 4209 § 1, 1992].

9.56.020 Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

Abandoned Vehicle. A vehicle is considered to be abandoned if it is left on public or private property in such inoperable or neglected condition that the owner’s intention to relinquish all further rights or interests in it may be reasonably concluded.

“Dismantled vehicle” means any vehicle that is partially or wholly disassembled.

“Highway” means a way or place of whatever nature, which is publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel. Highway includes street.

“Inoperable vehicle” means any motor vehicle designed to be operated on a public roadway that cannot be moved under its own power or which is not currently registered for operation.

“Private property” means such property as belongs absolutely to an individual which he or she has the exclusive right of disposition.

“Public nuisance vehicle” means any vehicle (including inoperative parts) that is abandoned, wrecked or dismantled on public or private property creating a condition which reduces the value of private property or promotes blight and deterioration or invites plundering or creates fire hazards or constitutes an attractive nuisance endangering the health and safety of minors or harbors rodents and insects, or jeopardizes health, safety, and general welfare is a public nuisance.

“Public property” is a designation of those things which are considered as being owned by the public, the entire State or community, and not restricted to dominion of a private person. The term also applies to any property owned by the County, State or nation.

“Vehicle” means a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved or drawn upon a highway, except a device moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.

“Wrecked vehicle” means any vehicle that is damaged to such an extent that it cannot be operated upon the highway. [Ord. 4768 § 1, 2004; Ord. 4675 § 1, 2002; Ord. 4209 § 1, 1992].

9.56.030 Exceptions to provisions.

(A)    This chapter shall not apply to:

(1)    A vehicle or part thereof which is completely enclosed within a building in a lawful manner;

(2)    A vehicle or part thereof which is stored or parked in a lawful manner on private property in connection with the business of a licensed dismantler, licensed vehicle dealer, or a junkyard, or when such storage or parking is necessary to the operation of a lawfully conducted business or commercial enterprise; or

(3)    An inoperable or operable abandoned vehicle on a street or highway.

(B)    Nothing in this section shall authorize the maintenance of a public or private nuisance, as defined under provisions of law other than Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 22650) of Division II of the Vehicle Code, and this chapter. [Ord. 4768 § 1, 2004; Ord. 4675 § 1, 2002; Ord. 4209 § 1, 1992].

9.56.040 Administration and enforcement.

Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the provisions of this chapter shall be administered and enforced by the County Public Works Director. In the enforcement of this chapter, such officer and his deputies may enter upon private or public property to examine a vehicle or parts thereof or to obtain information as to the identity of a vehicle and to remove or cause the removal of a vehicle or part thereof declared to be a nuisance pursuant to this chapter. [Ord. 4768 § 1, 2004; Ord. 4675 § 1, 2002; Ord. 4209 § 1, 1992].

9.56.050 Chapter provisions not exclusive.

This chapter is not the exclusive regulation of abandoned, wrecked, dismantled or inoperative vehicles within the unincorporated area of the County. It shall supplement and be in addition to the other regulatory codes, statutes and ordinances heretofore or hereafter enacted by the County, the State, or any other legal entity or agency having jurisdiction. [Ord. 4768 § 1, 2004; Ord. 4675 § 1, 2002; Ord. 4209 § 1, 1992].

9.56.051 Abandonment prohibited.

No person shall abandon a vehicle upon public or private property without the express or implied consent of the owner or person in lawful possession or control of the property. [Ord. 4768 § 1, 2004; Ord. 4675 § 1, 2002; Ord. 4209 § 1, 1992].

9.56.052 Presumption of abandonment.

(A)    The abandonment of any vehicle in a manner as provided in SCCC 9.56.051 shall constitute a prima facie presumption that the last registered owner of record is responsible for the abandonment and is thereby liable for the cost of removal and disposition of the vehicle.

(B)    An owner who has made a bona fide sale or transfer of a vehicle and has delivered possession of the vehicle to a purchaser may overcome the presumption prescribed in subsection (A) of this section by demonstrating that he or she has complied with Vehicle Code Section 5900 or by providing other satisfactory proof. [Ord. 4768 § 1, 2004; Ord. 4675 § 1, 2002; Ord. 4209 § 1, 1992].

9.56.060 Removal—Franchise or contract authorized.

When the Board of Supervisors has contracted with or granted a franchise to any person or persons, such person or persons shall be authorized to enter upon private property or public property to remove or cause the removal of a vehicle or parts thereof declared to be a nuisance pursuant to this chapter. [Ord. 4768 § 1, 2004; Ord. 4675 § 1, 2002; Ord. 4209 § 1, 1992].

9.56.070 Removal—Costs.

The Board of Supervisors shall from time to time determine and fix an amount to be assessed as administrative costs under this chapter. [Ord. 4768 § 1, 2004; Ord. 4675 § 1, 2002; Ord. 4209 § 1, 1992].

9.56.080 Removal—Notice of intent—Form and contents.

(A)    Notice of intent to abate and remove an abandoned, wrecked, dismantled or inoperative vehicle pursuant to this chapter shall be mailed by certified mail to the owner of the land on which the vehicle is located as such owner is shown on the last equalized assessment roll and to the last registered and legal owner of record of the vehicle, unless the vehicle is in such condition that identification numbers are not available to determine ownership. Such notice shall give the owner of the vehicle and of the land at least 10 working days to request a hearing or to remove the vehicle.

(B)    The notice of intent to abate and remove a vehicle shall be substantially in the following form:

NOTICE OF INTENT TO ABATE AND REMOVE VEHICLE

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the undersigned intends to abate and remove the _______________ vehicle located at _______________ as an abandoned, wrecked, dismantled, or inoperative vehicle pursuant to Chapter 9.56 of the Santa Cruz County Code which declares such vehicles to be a public nuisance. The administrative costs and cost of removal of such a vehicle shall be a charge against the owner of the land on which the vehicle is located unless the owner of the land establishes that he or she has not consented nor subsequently acquiesced to the presence of the vehicle on his or her land.

You have a right to a hearing on this matter before the Nuisance Abatement Appeals Commission by making a request for such a hearing to the undersigned on or before _______________, 20_____.

The owner of the property on which this vehicle is located may appear in person at such a hearing or in lieu of appearing at the hearing present a sworn written statement denying responsibility for the presence of the vehicle on his or her land, with his or her reasons for such denial.

If no request for a hearing is made on or before the above date, and if the vehicle is still located on the above property on said date, the undersigned will abate and remove the vehicle and the costs thereof shall be charged against you and, if not paid within 30 days thereafter, such costs shall be assessed against the property on which the vehicle is located.

(C)    Notwithstanding subsections (A) and (B) of this section, a notice of intention is not required for removal of a vehicle or part thereof which is determined by the County Public Works Director or his or her deputy to be a public nuisance presenting an immediate threat to public health or safety; provided, that the property owner has signed a release authorizing the removal and waiving further interest in the vehicle or part thereof. Prior to final disposition of such a low-valued vehicle or part for which evidence of registration was recovered pursuant to notice given to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the County Public Works Director or his or her deputy shall provide notice to the registered or legal owners of intent to dispose of the vehicle or part, and if the vehicle or part is not claimed and removed within 10 working days after the notice is mailed, final disposition may proceed. [Ord. 4768 § 1, 2004; Ord. 4675 § 1, 2002; Ord. 4209 § 1, 1992; Ord. 3770 § 1, 1986].

9.56.090 Abatement performed by County.

The County Public Works Director or his or her deputy, upon complying with the provisions of SCCC 9.56.080, may abate and remove from any property any abandoned, wrecked, dismantled or inoperative vehicle, or part thereof, as provided in SCCC 9.56.110. He or she may also charge the owner of the vehicle and the owner of the property on which it is located with the cost of removal and any administrative costs. Both removal and assessment of costs shall, however, be stayed pending the order of the Nuisance Abatement Appeals Commission in the event that a hearing is requested as provided in SCCC 9.56.080 and 9.56.100. [Ord. 4768 § 1, 2004; Ord. 4675 § 1, 2002; Ord. 4209 § 1, 1992].

9.56.100 Hearing before removal.

(A)    Whenever the owner of the vehicle in question or the owner of the property on which the vehicle is located requests a hearing pursuant to SCCC 9.56.080, a hearing shall be held by the Nuisance Abatement Appeals Commission, as soon as possible and normally within 30 days of the filing of such a request, on the question of the abatement and removal of the vehicle or part thereof as an abandoned, wrecked, dismantled or inoperative vehicle and the proposed charge of the administrative costs of removal of the vehicle or part thereof against the owner of the vehicle and the owner of the property on which it is located. If the owner of the land on which the vehicle is located submits a sworn written statement denying responsibility for the presence of the vehicle on his or her land within the period specified in SCCC 9.56.080 for requesting a hearing, this statement shall be construed as a request for hearing which does not require the presence of the owner submitting such request.

(B)    Notice of hearing shall be mailed at least three days before the hearing by certified mail to the owner of the land, as shown on the last equalized assessment roll, to the occupant of the premises on which the vehicle is located and to the last registered and legal owner of record, unless the vehicle is in such condition that identification numbers are not available to determine ownership.

(C)    In conducting the hearing the Nuisance Abatement Appeals Commission shall not be limited by the technical rules of evidence, but may hear all facts and testimony it deems pertinent. Such facts and testimony may include testimony on the condition of the vehicle or part thereof, and the circumstances concerning its location on the private property or public property. The owner of the land on which the vehicle is located may appear in person at the hearing or present a written statement in time for consideration at the hearing and deny responsibility for the presence of the vehicle on his or her land with his or her reasons for such denial.

(D)    The Nuisance Abatement Appeals Commission may impose such conditions and take such other action as it deems appropriate under the circumstances to carry out the purpose of this chapter. The Commission may delay the time for removal of the vehicle or part thereof if, in its opinion, the circumstances justify it. At the conclusion of the public hearing the Commission may find that a vehicle or part thereof has been abandoned, wrecked, dismantled, or is inoperative on private or public property and order the same removed from the property as a public nuisance and disposed of as hereinafter provided and determine the administrative costs and the cost of removal to be charged against the owner of the vehicle and against the owner of the parcel of land on which the vehicle or part thereof is located. The order requiring removal shall include a description of where the vehicle or part thereof is located. The order requiring removal shall include a description of the vehicle or part thereof and the correct identification number and license number of the vehicle, if available.

(E)    If it is determined at the hearing that the vehicle was placed on the land without the consent of the landowner and that he or she has not subsequently acquiesced in its presence, the Commission shall not charge the costs of administration or removal of the vehicle against the owner of the property upon which the vehicle is located, nor shall costs be assessed against his or her property.

(F)    If an interested party makes a written presentation to the Commission but does not appear, he or she shall be notified in writing of the decision.

(G)    The decision of the Nuisance Abatement Appeals Commission shall be final. [Ord. 4768 § 1, 2004; Ord. 4675 § 1, 2002; Ord. 4209 § 1, 1992; Ord. 3770 §§ 2, 3, 1986].

9.56.110 Removal and disposition of vehicle.

(A)    After the time for requesting a hearing has expired without a hearing being requested or five days from the date of mailing the notice of decision of the Nuisance Abatement Appeals Commission, if such notice is required by SCCC 9.56.100, the vehicle or parts thereof may be disposed of by removal to a scrap yard, automobile dismantler’s yard or any suitable site operated by the County for processing of scrap or other final disposition as scrap.

(B)    After a vehicle has been removed, it shall not thereafter be reconstructed or made operable, unless it is a vehicle which qualifies for either horseless carriage license plates or historical vehicle license plates, pursuant to Section 5004 of the California Vehicle Code, in which case the vehicle may be reconstructed or made operable. [Ord. 4768 § 1, 2004; Ord. 4675 § 1, 2002; Ord. 4209 § 1, 1992; Ord. 3770 § 4, 1986; Ord. 3620 § 38, 1985].

9.56.120 Notice to State Department of Motor Vehicles.

Within five days after the date of removal of the vehicle or part thereof, notice shall be given to the Department of Motor Vehicles identifying the vehicle or part thereof removed. At the same time, there shall be transmitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles any evidence of registration available, including registration certificates, certificates of title, and license plates. [Ord. 4768 § 1, 2004; Ord. 4675 § 1, 2002; Ord. 4209 § 1, 1992].

9.56.130 Removal—Cost assessment.

If the administrative costs and the cost of removal which are charged against the owner of a parcel of land pursuant to SCCC 9.56.110 are not paid within 30 days of removal, the Board of Supervisors shall hold a hearing, of which the owner shall be given at least 10 days’ written notice, to determine the reasonable costs to be assessed for the removal of the vehicle. A certified copy of the Board’s determination of the amount of the reasonable costs of removal, together with the amount of the administrative charge, shall be filed with the County Auditor and placed as a special assessment on the current assessment roll against the parcel of land. The assessment shall be collected at the same time and in the same manner as ordinary County taxes are collected, and subject to the same penalties and the same procedure and sale in case of delinquency as provided for ordinary County taxes. All laws applicable to the levy, collection and enforcement of County taxes shall be applicable to such special assessment, including Vehicle Code Section 22660 and Government Code Section 25845. [Ord. 4768 § 1, 2004; Ord. 4675 § 1, 2002; Ord. 4209 § 1, 1992].