L.A. Adopts New Time Limit on Abandoned Cars


We’ve had a white van parked on the street across from our house in Silver Lake for nearly two months now and it’s been driving (pardon the pun) us and our landlord crazy! Clearly abandoned with Wisconsin plates that expired in May, the car has not been towed because the city had been working on a new city ordinance in regards to how to handle abandoned vehicles. This new ordinance, which went into effect on Monday (July 3), means that vehicles that have not been moved in 72 hours will be considered abandoned and can be towed. Now, don’t worry if you have a car that you don’t use often, they will come by to mark your tires or leave a note on your car and then in 72 more hours, take your car away. Our van’s tires were marked on Monday – the countdown has begun.

Here’s a little bit more about the abandon car procedure:

Los Angeles Municipal Code 80.73.2 requires that a vehicle parked on a public street be driven at least one mile every seventy-two hours. Additionally, California Vehicle Code 22669 allows traffic officers to tow any vehicle which is inoperable and parked on City streets, constituting a public hazard. Traffic officers cannot simply tow a vehicle because a complaint has been made. The traffic officer must first observe the vehicle over a 72 hour period to determine that the vehicle has not been driven. Additionally, as a courtesy, the traffic officer will generally leave a green warning card on the vehicle, notifying the owner that the vehicle must be moved. If the vehicle has not been moved at least one mile after seventy-two hours, the vehicle can be impounded.

To contact the City of Los Angeles: Parking Violations Bureau to report an abandoned car:
Call 1-800-ABANDON (1-800-222-6366) Evenings, weekends and holidays and leave a voice mail message with your name and daytime phone number.

Please provide the following information when you call:
* Vehicle Location Zip Code*
* License Plate
* Vehicle Make
* Vehicle Color
* Vehicle Location (Street, block # and Cross Street)*

12 thoughts on “L.A. Adopts New Time Limit on Abandoned Cars”

  1. We have similar laws in Burbank, but it’s not perfect. Since I don’t have a garage, I *must* park on the street. This has led to some problems, especially when I use to own two cars.

    What happens if I’m on vacation for a week or more?

    What happens (as was my case) if you are in the hospital, or laid up for a couple of weeks. My neighbors must have loved seeing me trudging out of the house every few days wearing a robe, with cane in hand and feeding tube thrown casually over my shoulder, just to get in my car and drive around the block a few times.

    I don’t want abandoned vehicles taking up parking spaces and being general eyesores. But I do hope there’s some plan to accommodate those of us who live alone and occasionally travel out of town for a couple weeks during vacation or for work.

  2. I don’t like this – I think 72 hours is a very short time. I have a car I park on the street. I use it once or twice a week, and sometimes just move it enough to avoid a street-cleaning ticket. In an age where we are trying to get people to consider public transport even if they have a car, it doesn’t seem fair to penalize people who try to minimize car trips. I think a week is much fairer – someone who’s left a car for a week obviously doesn’t care about street cleaning tickets and it’s probably abandoned. What about people who have to go out of town? I’m a comic, I work a week at a time out of town, and my car isn’t going to move in that time. What then?

  3. We’ve had problems in the past with abandoned vehicles on our street. I’ve reported them and in two of the three cases it turned out they were stolen vehicles (and I think the cops are glad to recover them). In the third case (about two years ago) they simply chalked the vehicle, left a couple of notes and then towed it after about a week.

    My guess is that they’re not going to just go around chalking every car and consider it abandoned after 72 hours … so if you park there regularly and your neighbors are accustomed to seeing your car there, it shouldn’t be an issue.

  4. Unless I’m misunderstaning something a car has to first be reported as Abandoned, then it has to be marked (chaked tires, note on window), THEN there’s 72 hours before the care is towed. They don’t just tow any car they think hasn’t moved in the last few days.

  5. I’m confused by this. I’ve been reporting abandoned cars using 1-800-ABANDON every since we moved into the house and they told me from the beginning (almost two years now) that there was a 72-hour time limit on street parking. I wonder if they misinformed me previously?

    Either way, I think Sean is right. They’re not trolling around looking for cars to tow. A vehicle has to be reported as abandoned first.

  6. “They” might not be trolling around looking for cars to tow, but every neighborhood has enough busybodies that will phone complaints in. I’ve had a car get towed while I was out of town, and it sucks. At least $200 to get it out of impound.

  7. Funny to see this called a “new” ordinance – I have had cars removed as much as 16 years ago using this same statute. That was in Hollywood. Maybe it’s just been adopted here in Silver Lake? Seems odd since it’s all Los Angeles.

    Maybe there’s a dead body in that van.

  8. Well, something changed as our landlord has been calling about this van for over 2 months and was told that because of a new ordinance that wasn’t yet in effect they couldn’t do anything about it. They also told him there was a backlog of 9,000 vehicles that had been reported and nothing could be done about them until some new thing went into effect.

  9. There was a law very similar to the new one. I forget the details and am currently too lazy to look it up, but a judge shot the law down saying it was illegal. This new law, which may “feel” like the law we’ve been used to, has some tweaks that make it constitutional or whatever it wasn’t before.

    …few minutes later with a burst of energy…

    here’s some background on the updated law:

    “… a U.S. District Court judge decided that the city’s abandoned-vehicle rules were inconsistent with state law and ordered the city to draft a new ordinance.”

  10. Just to clarify…

    This is not a new ordinance; it’s just a revised ordinance. It’s been on the books for years, but the City was taken to court over some non-motorized trailers that were impounded. The judge said the law was not clear enough, so The City Council immeadiately ammended the ordinance, but it must be posted for 60 days before it can take effect. July 3rd was 60 days after the adoption of the new language for the ordinance that has existed for years. So, no, this is not new.

    Also, instead of calling 1-800-ABANDON, you can just call 3-1-1.

    Here’s what I wrote when it all started back in May.

  11. Today, as my second vehicle was being towed, I was told by your stereotypically snotty parking enforcement wench that they no longer leave notices on your car if it hasn’t been moved in 72 hours — they just tow it. They ARE looking around for cars to tow, and mine cost me $177 to bail out today. It’s currently registered and insured and was sitting right in front of my house. Hardly “abandoned.” BTW, I work nights and the chalk marks don’t exactly jump out at you in the dark.

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