A good plan for dealing with abandoned cars

Posted: Wednesday, February 14, 2001

Some drivers' relationships with their vehicles may be a love story, but if your clunker becomes a junker, you may not care what can be said about a car that died.

More likely, you want to know what can be done.

Normally, the answer is pay several hundred dollars more than the late, great, four-, six- or eight-cylinder vehicle is worth to have it towed to the scrapyard. In consideration of the environment, the car's fluids have to be disposed of properly or even the scrapyard won't take the hulk off your hands.

Dealing with a dead car can be an expensive, time-consuming project, which is exactly why so many vehicles end up abandoned.

But what if you could pay as little as $50 if the clunker can be driven or $50 plus a towing fee to be rid of it? For each of the next five Saturdays, that prospect is a reality. The city has set aside $15,000 to subsidize the cost of getting car carcasses from parking lots, driveways and yards to 1725 Anka St., an interim stop en route to a scrap metal barge due to leave Juneau on March 17.

The $15,000 represents the city's share of disposing of 200 junkers, according to Dan Garcia, the city's environmental zoning inspector. If more junkers are turned in, the city will find more money to deal with them, according to Deputy Mayor John MacKinnon.

Garcia says the city wants to make contact with as many people as possible who have junk cars on their property.

"If the junk car is on a public road, (people) can store the car there for a couple of days," Garcia said. "But we're not focusing on cars on the right-of-way. We're looking at people with cars in the driveway, on the property, alongside their house. ... Red-tag efforts will continue as normal."

The plan is not perfect. Some people won't have the $50 to $100 to participate. Some who do won't get the word about the program. Others will figure even this deal is too much trouble. And the owners of some abandoned cars may not even live here any more.

But the problem of dead cars littering the landscape won't solve itself. The city deserves credit for intervening and trying to make disposal affordable.

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