GIMME SHELTER- Abandoned? When a car never leaves a space

Ric Barrick
Spokesperson, City of Charlottesville


Q: Somebody parked their car on my street, and I would like them to move it!  What are the steps I should take before resorting to extreme measures such as calling the police?  What if they are parked legally but have been parked there for weeks?

A: About 15 years ago, we had a situation where a car was parked illegally for five days in a metered parking lot, and upon careful inspection, the wrecker found a body in the back of the van when the car was finally towed. The individual was determined to be a murder victim, but the killer was never found.  

At the time, the city code allowed for up to five tickets before towing, so the car received a ticket every day before the wrecker was called.

In general, where a car is parked legally but for a very long time, there is really nothing the police can do unless the car is not registered properly or is posing a health risk to the public.

We always appreciate residents talking directly to the owner of a car to get them to move before contacting the police. Speaking to the owner of the car or leaving a note asking them to move their car are the best first steps to take.  

If those are not immediate options and the car is blocking your driveway or clearly on your property without your consent, you can call the police department non-emergency number, 977-9041. They will transmit the call to an officer in the traffic division of the department who will come out to inspect the situation.  

If a car is parked illegally on your street, such as in front of a fire hydrant, in a loading zone, or on a designated street with permit parking, you can call that police number as well. We regularly inspect city streets for illegal parking, and it's likely that the car will be cited even if you do not call. Anyone, however, can park legally on a public street within legal parking spaces.