Lawmaker aims to ban curbside used car salesBy Mark Abramson
On many state roads such as Millbrae's El Camino Real, illegal used car sales are creating a public nuisance and safety hazard, says state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Mateo/San Francisco.
Yee's Senate Bill 279 - introduced Friday - would give local authorities the power to tow vehicles that are left with for-sale signs on state-owned roads. That authority is now restricted to the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans.
If approved by the state Legislature, the law would take effect Jan. 1, 2008.
The problem has become such a headache in Millbrae that the city has resorted to painting curbs red to prohibit parking and prevent used car peddlers from turning sections of El Camino Real into makeshift showrooms. The city had to paint all the curbs near an office supply store because the problem was so bad there, City Manager Ralph Jaeck said.
If the law goes into effect, some of those red curbs could be repainted to create more parking, city officials said.
"While the law already prohibits this type of activity, in order to truly tackle the problem, local police must also have the ability to tow such vehicles within their communities," Yee said.
The Nissan dealership on El Camino Real is facing competition from the used car sales, which could reduce the sales tax dollars the dealership generates for the city, Mayor Marc Hershman said.
There is a dark side to the used car sales, city officials said.
"It has invited crime," said Millbrae Police Cmdr. Marc Farber, adding that the used vehicles are often burglarized.
Tickets for leaving the vehicles parked with for-sale signs are only $30, but the fees to get a vehicle back from the police department would be $100 plus whatever the tow companies charge, Farber said.
Police would have to use some discretion in enforcing the law, Yee spokesman Adam Keigwin said. The law is not intended to tow the car of someone who is driving around with a for-sale sign on his or her vehicle's window and parks to patronize a business, he said.
Another trouble spot the city has noticed has been in front of the Best Western El Rancho Inn & Suites in the 1100 block of El Camino Real. The city posted one hour parking signs in front of the hotel so people who had business there and at adjacent restaurants could park in front.
"For a year people told us we had a black eye and that we looked like a used car dealership," said Art Schwass, the hotel's general manager. "We literally had 20 to 25 cars at a time."
Copyright ©2007 San Mateo Daily News. Published 03/04/2007.