Avalon OKs amnesty for vehicle citations

File photo

One-time amnesty ends March 31

A week before Valentine’s Day, and before vehicle registration beings in Avalon, the City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 7, unanimously approved a new amnesty program for local illegal vehicles.

The city’s website and Facebook page began promoting the program on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

“The one-time amnesty program will operate from February 8, 2023 to March 31, 2023,” the website said.

The approved program applies to anyone who owes at least $250 in fines, according to the city website.

City Manager David Maistros told the council that they (presumably staff) believed there were 200 or 300 illegal vehicles in Avalon.

In December, the council directed staff to come with an amnesty program for individuals with vehicle citations, according to a staff report. (The Islander ran a two-part series on the council’s study session on local vehicle regulations. See “City Council studies transportation, vehicles” and “City looking at vehicle permits.)

“For some individuals, the cost of outstanding citations is greater than the overall value of the vehi-cle,” according to the staff report by Management Analyst Devin Hart.

“According to the city’s citation system, for the time period of January 1, 2019 to the present, there are approximately 2,425 outstanding citations accounting for approximately $164,000 in outstanding fees,” Hart wrote.

“The most citations owed by any single individual exceed $7,000,” Hart wrote.

According to Hart’s report, staff recommended two options for the amnesty program: a 50% reduction of the fees owed (without charging interest or late fees) or a 100% elimination of the fees owned provided the owner of an illegal vehicle signs over title to the city.

Maistros explained that residents could choose either option.

In either case, staff proposed stating the 60-day amnesty period on Wednesday, Feb. 8, according to Hart.

The amnesty program would allow owners to make installment payments. The city may charge a $50 amnesty fee for anyone opting to pay installments.

According to the report, participants who default will be notified by mail and have 30 days to make a payment or request a fee change.

Councilmember Mary Schickling asked why the city hadn’t done that before.

According to Maistros, if you go there, the state won’t let individuals register their vehicles with the DMV. Eventually, the debt gets so high that they don’t register their vehicle with the state and they don’ register with the city. Then they get tickets without taking corrective steps.

Schickling said she thought the amnesty program was a great idea.

After the vote, Councilmember Lisa Lavelle said she was proud of the program, thankful to city staff for putting it together, and excited to see it make some positive changes.

For details or to apply for the amnesty, visit www.cityofavalon.com/1399/Vehicle-Citation-Amnesty-Program