Abandoned car removals are subject to lengthy process

An abandoned car in Co Op City with a tag from Sanitation
Community News Groupd/ Alex Mitchell

Abandoned cars, scattered throughout the Bronx, have been an eyesore for some time now.

And they’re a personal pet peeve of Community Board 12’s district manager George Torres.

“I’m calling 311 constantly to get them removed,” said Torres. “This has been an ongoing issue for sometime now,” he added.

What he finds most infuriating is the burdensome process of getting them towed.

The process of removing abandoned cars starts with the NYC Department of Sanitation.

However, DOS can only remove a car from the street if it meets the department’s criteria of a ‘derelict vehicle.’

That criteria entails: hood, grill, front bumper and front fender missing; door(s), trunk lid, and hood missing or damaged; front or rear end damage; interior and glass damage; engine or transmission missing; damage to right or left side; fire damage or otherwise seriously burned; or vehicle eight years or older that’s deteriorated or dilapidated.

The year of the car determines the number of criteria that must be met.

But these regulations only applied to cars without license plates, though.

If a car has plates and has any of the listed criteria, Sanitation still can’t remove it.

“If the complaint is sent to us, we will investigate the situation. If the vehicle is found to be without plates and derelict, we will start the removal process,” said Belinda Mager, director of Digital Media + Communications for DOS.

“We will tag the vehicle for removal, and if the vehicle is not removed by the owner, our towing vendor will be dispatched to remove the vehicle. If the vehicle has plates or is not derelict, we will refer the matter to NYPD,” she added.

Often times cars that are abandoned or left parked for long periods of time have license plates and become NYPD’s problem.

“The process has so many moving parts that it’s virtually ineffective,” said Torres. “The NYPD has much bigger issues to be concerned with, they shouldn’t have to deal with this,” he added.

Areas in the Bronx that see high volume of abandoned cars are Wakefield and Co-op City, mostly near auto shops.

Ironically, much of the problem occurs right outside the MTA transit facility on Furman Avenue by E. 240th Street.

Maria Sanchez, who works on the block has witnessed the problem first hand.

“There was a black car parked there for two years,” she said. “It didn’t move at all, nobody could do anything about it,” she added.

Torres said that derelict cars outside auto body shops are often being cannibalized for parts.

While Torres doesn’t have a concrete solution in mind to expedite the process, he’s confident it could be made more linear and effective.

He also wants residents’ 311 calls and complaints to be addressed more efficiently.

“It shouldn’t take a public official making a complaint to address this type of issue,” said Torres.

“Why aren’t legislators writing laws to give these agencies the power to tow these cars?” said Torres. “Don’t make a simple thing into a bureaucratic process,” he added.

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