Council considers ban on backing into driveways

Proposal is effort to cut down on blight of abandoned cars, councilman says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Soon you might be breaking the law if you back your car into your own driveway.

As part of the effort to get rid of abandoned cars contributing to blight, some City Council members are looking at how license plates are displayed while vehicles are parked in front of homes.

A proposal being considered says that if inspectors can't see a vehicle's tag from the road, the owner could be cited. That means vehicles wouldn't be allowed to be covered up in a driveway, either.

"I think it's ridiculous," said homeowner Dave Bryant, who said he always backs into his driveway. "The main reason I do it is people parallel park on the side of the street, so if you are backing out, you can't see traffic coming."

DOCUMENT: City Council's back-up ban proposal

But City Council members said if code inspectors can't easily see a tag, they can't tell if a vehicle is properly registered, because they are not allowed to walk onto private property.

That's why the council is considering a law that would make backing into a driveway to park illegal. Homeowners who don't comply could be fined $50.

Councilman Warren Jones said he introduced the bill because there is a huge problem with abandoned cars in Jacksonville.

"We have been trying to find a way to address this problem because it's a blight on the community and it's driving down property values and it's very unsightly," Jones said. "But our hands are tied as enforcement goes because we cannot enforce it unless we can see the tag."

Cars with covers are also a problem and owners will be cited for those if tags cannot be seen. The covers have to be clean, and the tag has to be visible from the street, according to the proposal.

Jones said if drivers need to back in, they'll have to write the vehicle's tag number out and display it where it can be seen from the right of way.

Kristyn Irwin said she backs her car in the drive for safety reasons. She said she once hit a parked car when she was backing out onto the street.

"I can see where it could make it easier to find something if you needed to locate a vehicle for whatever reason, but I really like being able to park like that and not having to worry about backing into someone on the street," Irwin said.

Jones said the law was also introduced because a former code officer was telling people they could avoid a ticket by hiding the tag.

"She was telling folks, 'Just back it in. I can't see you, I can't cite you,' and that word is spreading," Jones said.

The proposal has passed two committees, but some council members still have questions. The law will be discussed in the blight committee more later this summer.

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Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.