KayLynn Roberts-McMurray photo
The city has been storing abandoned cars that it has been seizing in this lot on Lackawana Highway near the water and sewer treatment facility.

Courtesy photo/KayLynn Roberts-McMurray
Several houses around town like the one pictured above have abandoned, unlicensed vehicles in their yards.

The discovery of several vehicles parked in a weed filled lot of the city’s Water and Sewer Treatment Facility on Lackawanna Highway led to many questions.

How did they get there? Who did these vehicles belong to?

Many of them didn’t look like company vehicles that were just sitting in the empty lot.

The City of Ely said these vehicles were the result of cars that were collected from streets where they were abandoned, and lots that the city had sent several letters to the owner, and after non-compliance they were removed and towed out to this particular lot.

City Administrator Robert Switzer said close to seven or eight vehicles were collected last year. But how does this happen? Some of these vehicles were abandoned on a street, and some were in a yard of a property where weeds and rubbish were at an excess that became offensive to look at.

Reports were sent in to the city by residents near these locations, and the city had to take action.

The city follows Ely Code, Title 4, Chapter 4-2-13 which is the Failure to Abate Nuisance. The code states that at any time accumulation of garbage, trash and waste matter is not hauled or becomes offensive and is not removed by the owner or person responsible for doing so, then an order for such removal may be made by the city council and if not removed within the time required then the city shall have such garbage, trash and waste matter removed in whatever manner may be convenient, and shall be authorized and empowered to collect the reasonable charges and costs involved and take all lawful steps for collection.

This also goes along with Code 4-2-14, which defines the abatement of unsafe buildings, filth, and rubbish. The code states the city council may order an owner to clear debris, rubbish, refuse, litter, garbage, abandoned or junk vehicles or junk appliances which are not governed by Chapter 459 of the Nevada Revised Statute.

The city takes every step possible before having to tow a vehicle away.  They will place a placard on the vehicle, send a notice to inform the property owner of his right to request a hearing before the city attorney to present his case as to why he should not be required to abate the condition.

If the property owner is dissatisfied with the determination of the city attorney, he may appeal that decision to the city council.

City Attorney Chuck Odgers said they even took it one step further by running each VIN number for the vehicles through the Nevada DMV database to obtain the last registered owners address so that a certified letter could be sent to that person as well in case the location of the vehicle was different from the registered owners.

In the event the property owner does not abate the condiction within the time prescribed in the notice, the property owner will be subject to a civil penalty and $100 per day for each day that the property owner does not abate the condition.

“Out of the number of cars collected approximately three to four people came back to collect their cars after they were towed away,” Odgers said.

So what happens next? Once the vehicle is obtained by the city, the city can then hold an auction to auction of these vehicles once all of the proper paperwork to obtain the title has been completed.

An auction has not been held in over three years, but it was also mentioned by Odgers that most of these vehicles were just recently collected within the last year.  But Switzer said the value is so low on many of the vehicles that many of them may not even be worth auctioning, and if that is the case, some of them will end up at the landfill.

A vehicle can be parked on the property of a residence and the plates can be expired, but the vehicle should be covered so as not to be an eyesore or offensive to other residents, but it’s when the vehicle is not covered up and there are weeds, and rubbish all around that causes concern.

An afternoon drive through town, revealed several residences that had a yard full of debris, appliance in the driveway, or cars sitting on the street with expired license plates.

If you see something like this, contact the City of Ely, the only way they are going to know is if it’s reported to them.