County Code Addresses Inoperable Vehicles

County Code Addresses Inoperable Vehicles

Not just eyesores or environmental hazards some say.

In some driveways and backyards around Fairfax County there’s an old car that would make the perfect hot rod with chrome pipes and shiny mag wheels, if there was only time or energy to take on the project like this. Tick tock, tick tock, goes the county time clock on such a project before it falls under the “Fairfax County Vehicle Storage Rule,” which is Chapter 110 of the Fairfax County Code, article four of the Zoning Ordinance that regulates inoperative vehicle storage in residential areas.

According to the county, “when an inoperable vehicle is found on private property, the offender is given a 30-day warning in order to comply with the code. If the vehicle remains in violation after the 30-day period the offender will be given a 10 day notice of violation. If they disregard the notice of violation criminal enforcement action is taken. Due to the large volume of complaints it will take longer than the minimum required by code and policy in order to bring charges and tow a vehicle. The Impound Officer makes every attempt to seek voluntary compliance as soon as possible.”

This rule was part of the latest Braddock Beacon newsletter out of Supervisor James R. Walkinshaw’s (D-Braddock) office to “promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the public.” 

They cited the code that looks at the inoperative motor vehicles, trailers and semi trailers as possibly a fire hazard and a hindrance in fighting fires or an unsanitary harborage for rodents and insects that could lead to health and safety hazards to the citizens of this County. “The existence of such vehicles on property in the County reduces the market value of such properties and surrounding properties, dissuades the relocation of families and businesses to the area, and discourages tourism; and that such conditions are aesthetically unappealing to the citizens of this County.” (20-85-110.)

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, there were 542 reported inoperable vehicle complaints in 2021. Older, denser neighborhoods have the most complaints, countywide, the police said. Only four of those complaints in 2021 were in the Braddock District, said Brian Garcia, the communications director in the Braddock District office.

The police found that most property owners voluntarily comply with the initial warnings to move their vehicle. If the owner does not comply, the impoundment officer will tow a vehicle at the property owners’ request but rarely tow and fine the owner. Typically, the vehicles that are reported as inoperable have mechanical problems that are not worth repairing. If the owner does not claim their vehicle, the storage lot will obtain an abandoned vehicle title and sell or scrap the vehicle to pay the towing and storage fee, the police said.

Fluids Leaching Out

Over at Clean Fairfax, Jennifer Cole said they get more calls about trash than inoperable vehicles, but when a complaint like this does come to them, they send it on to compliance for action. Cole did note that an inoperable vehicle could leak out old oil, transmission fluid or gasoline. 

“It is an environmental hazard, especially if it’s leaking,” she said.

The Police Impound Officer that handles inoperable vehicles that are on private property (i.e. a junk car in someone’s yard) can be reached at 703-280-0716 or by email at Inoperative vehicles parked on PUBLIC STREETS are parking violations and should be reported to Parking Enforcement by calling 703-691-2131 or emailing the location and description to: