There’s no law in Portland saying that a person can’t have more than one car. As long as they can afford them and a find a legal place to park them, then they can have as many vehicles as they like. But, when someone has multiple junk vehicles on their property, this is what sometimes poses a problem. It’s not even that the police won’t try and work with you if you have a junk vehicle (or vehicles). In fact, in most instances they try to get the owner of the vehicle to cooperate with them. But, if the owner ignores them and doesn’t comply, that car, truck or SUV is going to eventually get tagged for removal, and ultimately towed away from the property.
These types of junk vehicle rules are definitely not just for the state of Oregon, and similar ones apply to many different cities and counties across the nation. But being that many of the readers of this blog are located in Portland and surrounding areas, it’s important for them to know what qualifies as a junk vehicle. There may be people who are new to the area who are unfamiliar with the specific rules and regulations, or there may be local folks who’ve been living in the area for a while who need a reminder of what they are! No one wants to get their vehicle towed inadvertently.
One main thing to know about junk vehicles is that in Oregon you can’t get a title for one unless you purchased the vehicle within the State. According to Oregon.gov, you have to go through the State that originally issued you the ownership title to attain a junk vehicle title. A junk vehicle is classified as any one that is dismantled or can’t be repaired. They’re also labeled as vehicles that can only be used for parts and/or scrap vehicles. The State where you originally bought the car makes the determination of whether or not the vehicle can be rebuilt.
When someone makes a complaint about towing a junk car on a nearby property in the neighborhood, the City of Portland is not the bureau that they should call. In fact, on their website they provide the correct number to the Abandoned Auto Hotline. That doesn’t mean that the city won’t follow up on any complaints, and they will send an inspector to the property that has the abandoned or junk vehicle. The inspector will take a look around the car and look for visible signs that it’s not an up-and-running vehicle, such as missing engine parts, broken windows, or busted tires.
When the inspector makes the determination that it is in fact an abandoned, disabled, or junk vehicle, they’ll hit it with a tag warning. City Code Title 29 says that if there is a vehicle that is disabled on a property it has to be enclosed in a place such as a garage. The only way the vehicle could remain freely seen by passers-by is if the property was an actual business that dealt in junk vehicles. The limit for it not being enclosed on your property is 7 days, and in addition to the tag warning the owner will receive a letter in the mail that informs them of what their responsibilities are concerning that car, truck, or SUV.
Sometimes when owners receive this letter, certain emotions come to the surface. This is because many people feel that as long as the property is theirs that they should be able to park anything anywhere on it. And, when they do feel like that, they do have the right to act by contesting the warning letter that they received in the mail. If they want to do that, they have to do so before the junk vehicle is towed away, by going through their local Code Hearings Officer.
Counties across Oregon make it very easy for people to understand how to report an eyesore vehicle in their neighborhood by giving them direct instructions how to do so online. Washington County is one of those places that streamlines the process for its citizens, making it easy for them to understand what the local code violations are by listing them openly on their website. For example, when it comes to running vehicles, a person can’t have more than four of them on their private property in Washington County, but having any junk vehicles is a violation. Oregon DMV says that the owner of a vehicle that has been pronounced totaled has 30 days to get a reconstructed (or salvage) title for it.
Other places in the State, such as the City of Newberg, see abandoned vehicles as one of the most common code violations. They describe junk vehicles as ones that don’t have an up-to-date license plate, vehicles that are not operational, either dismantled or partly dismantled, or simply junked. Some folks may get the terms ‘abandoned’ and ‘discarded’ confused, because sometimes the owner of the car may very well have the intention of returning to it. Still, just like in most of the counties in the State of Oregon, that junk vehicle (if it’s to remain on the property) has to be within a shut building and unseen by the public.
Albany, Oregon also sees the same types of complaints from the public about City Code being broken. For example, when it comes to vehicles, they have a few different categories, such as boats, trailers and campers. These types of vehicles have to be parked off the street, and no one is allowed to sleep or live in them unless they are located in an RV park. But, when it comes to vehicles that are not operational, if they are not licensed they can’t be parked on city streets.
The code in the City of Sherwood that has to do with junk vehicles is Section 8.16.160H. It says that any car, truck, or SUV that is unregistered is prohibited from being kept on any property. Also if there is any vehicle that is being disassembled, it’s not allowed to sit in open view on that property.
One of the most frequently asked questions on the Clackamas County website is whether or not someone can have a junk car sitting on their property for an extended period of time. County Code there under this area is 10.03, and it basically says that if a vehicle is not registered and licensed to the property, or if it is not operational, then that particular vehicle is in direct violation of code.
In Gresham County, one of the citizen concerns is reporting an abandoned vehicle. Many of them want to know if when reporting a vehicle that’s been sitting on a city street for an extended period of time if the city hears them or not, because it seems as if the response takes longer than they expect. The rule is, as long as that vehicle is street legal, then for 72 hours the owner of that vehicle has the right to park on the right of way side of the street. The only way that the owner of the car abandons this right is if the car itself is parked on the right-of-way side of the street in front of their own property or residence. Even so, after someone reports a vehicle as abandoned, regardless of where it is, an inspector will still come out to the scene, take a look at the vehicle, wait one day, then return to the scene after 24 hours to see if the owner has come to move it. If the vehicle hasn’t budged, then it’ll be impounded in three days.
In Hillsboro, Oregon the rules are similar with cars being on public streets. They don’t consider a vehicle to be abandoned unless it’s been sitting there for more than 24 hours. If the vehicle is in a person’s driveway, in their yard, or anywhere else on their private property, then they have an entire week before action can be taken against them, unless it’s in a garage or another type of enclosed building.
Beaverton, Oregon says that abandoned vehicles have to be in that spot for at least 48 hours before they can be impounded, and the vehicle can’t be located in front of the owners primary physical address. Still, they advise their citizens in Beaverton to go ahead and report any junk vehicles that they believe are wrecked or are believed to be inoperable. Citizens are encouraged to call the Abandoned Auto Hotline if they notice certain things about the vehicle that seem strange, such as if there is no registration. Abandoned vehicles will receive an orange sticker (which is a two-day notice). And, after that two days, the vehicle will be towed if they don’t get a response from the owner.
Deschutes County, Oregon has similar rules, except they only give a one day notice before towing a car, truck, or SUV that seemingly has been abandoned. They have to wait that 24 hour period before they can take legal action.