Ald. Ervin introduces measures to confront loitering, abandoned cars

Proposed measure would allow city to tow away vehicles left in vacant lots for several days in a row

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Igor Studenkov

Contributing Reporter

The alderman is proposing an amendment to the municipal code that would allow the city to tow away vehicles left abandoned in the vacant lots several days in the row and, if the vehicles are unclaimed, dispose of them. Ervin also submitted a resolution calling for a hearing on how the city is enforcing existing regulations on "loitering for purposes related to gangs, prostitution, or narcotics trafficking." 

Both pieces of legislation, each of which deals with concerns that are regularly brought up during Ervin's community meetings, still need to be heard on the committee level, but, as of Sept. 24, it is not clear when that might happen.  

Residents of East Garfield, West Garfield Park and Austin portions of the 28th Ward have long complained about garbage and abandoned vehicles being dumped on the vacant lots near their homes.

Ervin has repeatedly acknowledged the problem, but said that the city lacks an enforcement mechanism to deal with the problem. 

The new ordinance would address that problem. Under the current regulations, the city can tow away "any hazardous dilapidated motor vehicle in full view of the general public." If the city can track down the owner, the owner must be notified and have an opportunity to retrieve it. But if the owner doesn't retrieve the vehicle or if the owner can't be tracked down, the city has a right to dispose of it.

Ervin's ordinance would expand that provision to any vehicle that has been left on a vacant lot and is either so damaged that it can't be driven off the lot or has been left abandoned for seven or more days (if it has valid state-issued plates) or four or more days (if doesn't have plates). 

The ordinance is being referred to the Committee on Budget & Government Operations, which is chaired by South Side Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd). The committee's next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 30, but its agenda has not been posted as of Sept. 24, so it's not clear whether the ordinance will be considered. 

Ervin also introduced a resolution calling for a hearing to examine the effectiveness of the city's anti-loitering ordinances. Ervin argues that the enforcement of existing ordinances has not been effective, because their prohibitions only apply to certain zones in the city that are designed by the police superintendent. 

The resolution has been sent to the Committee on Public Safety chaired by Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), who has the discretion to decide when the hearing would take place and whether the hearing would even take place at all.  

It's not clear when the hearing will take place. 


Love the News?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Austin Weekly News and We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

No Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Austin Weekly News 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Austin and Garfield Park.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad