Chapter 9.57
ABANDONED VEHICLES ON STREETS AND HIGHWAYS

Sections:

9.57.010    Purpose of provisions.

9.57.020    Definitions.

9.57.030    Administration and enforcement.

9.57.040    Chapter provisions not exclusive.

9.57.050    Abandonment prohibited.

9.57.060    Presumption of abandonment.

9.57.070    Removal of an abandoned vehicle after a 10-day period.

9.57.080    Immediate removal of abandoned vehicle.

9.57.090    Disposition of vehicle.

9.57.100    Vehicle removal—Notice to State.

9.57.105    No reconstruction after removal.

9.57.110    Administrative fees related to recovery of an abandoned vehicle.

9.57.120    Citations for violations.

9.57.010 Purpose of provisions.

In addition to and in accordance with the determination made and the authority granted by the State under Section 22669 of the Vehicle Code that a peace officer or other designated employees of the State, County, or city may immediately remove inoperable motor vehicles that are parked, resting, or otherwise immobilized on any highway or public right-of-way as a hazard to public health, safety and welfare, the County of Santa Cruz makes the following findings and declarations:

The accumulation of wrecked, dismantled, or inoperative vehicles or parts thereof on the highways or public right-of-way is declared a hazard to public health, safety and welfare, subject to immediate removal under this chapter. Any operable vehicle on a highway or public right-of-way which has not been moved more than 1,000 feet for a continuous 72-hour period and appears to be a deserted vehicle is declared an abandoned vehicle, subject to removal under this chapter. [Ord. 4756 § 1, 2004].

9.57.020 Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

Abandoned Vehicle. A vehicle is considered to be abandoned if it is left on a street or highway in such inoperable or neglected condition that the owner’s intention to relinquish all further rights or interests in it may be reasonably concluded or is left on a street or highway for a period of 72 hours without being moved more than 1,000 feet and appears to be a deserted vehicle.

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

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

“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.

“Sheriff” means and includes designees of the Sheriff-Coroner.

“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. [Ord. 4797 § 1, 2005; Ord. 4756 § 1, 2004].

9.57.030 Administration and enforcement.

The provisions of this chapter shall be administered and enforced by the Sheriff and the California Highway Patrol. [Ord. 4797 § 2, 2005; Ord. 4756 § 1, 2004].

9.57.040 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. 4828 § 1, 2006; Ord. 4756 § 1, 2004].

9.57.050 Abandonment prohibited.

No person shall abandon a vehicle upon a public highway or street. [Ord. 4756 § 1, 2004].

9.57.060 Presumption of abandonment.

(A)    The abandonment of any vehicle 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. 4756 § 1, 2004].

9.57.070 Removal of an abandoned vehicle after a 10-day period.

The Sheriff may remove or cause to be removed any abandoned vehicle that has been parked or left standing upon a street or highway for 72 or more consecutive hours. After the 72-hour period has elapsed, the Sheriff shall issue a 10-day notice of intention to abate and remove the vehicle or part thereof as an abandoned vehicle, unless the owner of the vehicle has signed a release authorizing removal and waiving further interest in the vehicle or part thereof. For purposes of this section, a vehicle shall be considered to have been parked or left standing for 72 or more consecutive hours if it has not been moved 1,000 feet or more during such 72-hour period. Rubbing away tire marking will not circumvent the 72-hour violation. No local agency or contractor thereof shall be liable for damage caused to a vehicle or part thereof by removal pursuant to this section. [Ord. 4797 § 3, 2005; Ord. 4756 § 1, 2004].

9.57.080 Immediate removal of abandoned vehicle.

(A)    Motor vehicles which are parked, resting, or otherwise immobilized on any highway or street and which lack an engine, transmission, wheels, tires, doors, windshield, or any other part or equipment necessary to operate safely on the highways and streets of the County are hereby declared a hazard to public health, safety and welfare.

(B)    The Sheriff may immediately remove any vehicle that is a hazard to the public health, safety and welfare without the notice of intention required in SCCC 9.57.070.

(C)    The Sheriff may immediately remove any vehicle which is parked or left standing upon a street or highway where the use of such street or highway, or a portion thereof, is necessary for the cleaning, repair or construction of the street or highway, or any portion thereof, is authorized for a purpose other than the normal flow of traffic, or where the use of the street or highway or any portion thereof is necessary for the movement of equipment, articles or structures of unusual size, and the parking of such vehicle would prohibit or interfere with such use of movement; provided, that signs giving notice that such vehicles may be removed are erected or placed at least 72 hours prior to the removal.

(D)    The costs required to be paid for the removal and disposition of any vehicle abandoned under this section shall not exceed those for towing and seven days of storage.

(E)    No local agency or contractor thereof shall be liable for damage caused to a vehicle or part thereof by removal pursuant to this section. [Ord. 4797 § 4, 2005; Ord. 4756 § 1, 2004].

9.57.090 Disposition of vehicle.

(A)    A vehicle which has been removed shall be taken to a garage designated by the Sheriff, where the vehicle shall be placed in storage. Prior to removal, the Sheriff shall determine the amount of mileage on the vehicle.

(B)    Within 48 hours of the removal, excluding weekends and holidays, the Sheriff shall send a notice to the registered and legal owner(s) of the abandoned vehicle at their addresses of record with the Department of Motor Vehicles, and to any other person known to have an interest in the vehicle. The notice shall be sent by first-class mail. The notice shall include all of the following information:

(1)    The name, address, and telephone number of the public agency providing the notice;

(2)    The location of the place of storage and description of the vehicle which shall include, if available, the vehicle make, license plate number, vehicle identification number, and mileage;

(3)    The authority and purpose for the removal of the vehicle;

(4)    A statement that the vehicle will be subject to disposal after 15 days from the date of the notice; and

(5)    A statement that the owners and interested persons, or their agents, have the opportunity for a post-storage hearing before the Sheriff to determine the validity of the removal and storage of the vehicle. The request for a hearing shall be made in person, in writing, or by telephone within 10 days from the date of notice of removal. If the owner or interested person, or his or her agent, disagrees with the decision of the public agency, the decision may be reviewed pursuant to Section 11523 of the Government Code. During the time of the initial hearing, or during the time the decision is being reviewed pursuant to Section 11523 of the Government Code, the vehicle in question shall not be disposed of.

(C)    All owners of abandoned vehicles shall have the right to a hearing before a representative of the Sheriff.

(D)    Any requested hearings shall be conducted within 48 hours of the request, excluding weekends and holidays.

(E)    Failure of either the registered or legal owner or interested person, or his or her agent, to request or to attend a scheduled hearing shall satisfy the post-storage validity hearing requirement of this section and the vehicle may be disposed of immediately.

(F)    The Sheriff shall be responsible for the costs incurred for towing and storage of the vehicle if it is determined in the hearing that reasonable grounds to believe that the vehicle was abandoned are not established.

(G)    No authorization for disposal may be issued prior to the conclusion of a requested post-storage hearing.

(H)    If the names and addresses of the registered and legal owners of the vehicle are not available from the records of the Department of Motor Vehicles, either directly or by use of the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, the public agency may issue to the lien holder who stored the vehicle an authorization for disposal at any time after the removal. [Ord. 4797 § 5, 2005; Ord. 4756 § 1, 2004].

9.57.100 Vehicle removal—Notice to State.

(A)    The public agency shall give notice of the identity and location of the vehicle to the Department of the California Highway Patrol located nearest to the vehicle prior to or concurrent with removal of the vehicle from the street or highway.

(B)    Within five days after the date of removal of the vehicle or parts thereof, notice shall be given to the State Department of Motor Vehicles, identifying the vehicle or parts thereof removed and any evidence of registration available. [Ord. 4756 § 1, 2004].

9.57.105 No reconstruction after removal.

A vehicle shall not be reconstructed or made operable, after removal, unless it is a vehicle that qualified for either horseless carriage license plates or historical vehicle license plates, pursuant to Vehicle Code Section 5004, in which case the vehicle may be reconstructed or made operable. [Ord. 4756 § 1, 2004].

9.57.110 Administrative fees related to recovery of an abandoned vehicle.

The owner of the vehicle must pay to the Sheriff the cost of removal and an administrative fee of $50.00 or the fee set in the unified fee schedule, whichever is greater. The owner must pay any storage fees directly to the company providing the service before gaining possession of the vehicle. [Ord. 4797 § 6, 2005; Ord. 4756 § 1, 2004].

9.57.120 Citations for violations.

The Sheriff, pursuant to the provisions of Section 836.5 of the Penal Code of the State of California, is authorized to enforce the provisions of the Vehicle Code and issue citations for violations. [Ord. 4797 § 7, 2005].