Emissions violator confined to halfway house

Posted: Thursday, December 23, 2004

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage man was confined to a halfway house for violating the city's emissions inspection program.

David Dykstra pleaded guilty last month to failing to have his vehicles tested under the program. He spent three days in a halfway house this month. He is the second city resident to be confined in connection with a failure to comply with the program, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Dykstra, 50, pleaded guilty in Anchorage District Court to six misdemeanor counts of not having his vehicles I/M tested, a DEC official said. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, but 175 were suspended, said Cindy Heil, a manager in the DEC's Division of Air Quality.

He spent three days in the Cordova Center earlier this month and got off two days early for good behavior.

Dykstra also was fined $3,000, with $1,500 suspended, and ordered to pay a $50 surcharge, Heil said.

"We think it's a good deterrent for others who may not take the I/M law seriously," she said.

Dykstra originally was charged with 12 felony counts of unsworn falsification for registering his numerous vehicles primarily in Soldotna when he lived in Anchorage, and 12 misdemeanor counts of failure to comply with the I/M program, Heil said.

The reduction to the six misdemeanors was part of a plea bargain, she said.

Dykstra was placed on three years of probation and ordered to commit no jailable offenses or environmental violations in that time.

"My cars are classic cars, and the way for me to avoid all that (I/M testing and processing) was not to register them," Dykstra said, referring to vehicles like a 1969 Dodge Dart that he said he seldom drives.

But not to register them would have meant keeping them off the street and parked in his driveway and yard, and that would have angered his Campbell Park neighbors and brought the city down on him, as happened before, he said.

"The neighbors called (municipal) Land Use and said I was running a junkyard," Dykstra said.

So he registered them, but on the Kenai. He says he owns property in Sterling.

Dykstra says he rarely drives his several Dodge Darts and Dodge Dusters.

"They sit there," he said. "I drive them maybe once a year. I start them up every other month to get the oil moving."

Dykstra said he currently owns about a dozen collector vehicles but also acquires junkers to sell to a metal recycler. He drives only four cars on city roads and those are I/M tested, Dykstra said.

Dykstra complained that the process to have his many vehicles I/M inspected was too time consuming.

"The bummer is standing in line," he said. "You run all over town. You get the test, you got to go back to the DMV, hand them the sticker. You do that for 12 cars, that's a couple of days of standing in line, and that's bull for a car you don't even drive."

Heil said Dykstra could have applied for a seasonal waiver, which would have allowed the vehicles to be driven in the city at any time except winter.

"He could have done that from the get-go," she said. "The waiver costs $18."

The municipality issues an average of about 5,000 notices of violations to city motorists every year for noncompliance with its I/M program, said Keith Beeson, the program's administrator. About 500 of those will turn into a citation.

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