Salt Lake City Fines Veteran $14,400 For Parking Dead Van In His Own Driveway

Salt Lake City slaps on 14,400 dollar fine for dead van in driveway
(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Arman Peterson is being fined $14,400 by Salt Lake City for having two cars parked in his driveway that were unlicensed or not operable. The cars, a ’74 Ford van and a ’65 Volvo sedan were parked on his driveway at his triplex at 44 W. 500 North. He was looking for a replacement carburetor for the van and the Volvo was running. But neither was licensed. He plans on appealing the fines and is irked that he could be subject to such penalities for what he parks in his own private drive.

Salt Lake City slaps on $14,400 fine for dead van in driveway (The Salt Lake City Tribune, Jan 13, 2014):

The fine: $14,400.

The crime: Resident parked an unlicensed vehicle in his own private driveway.

Arman Peterson, 70, says it isn’t right that Salt Lake City is fining him more than $14,000 because the carburetor went out in his 1974 Ford van.

A 1965 Volvo sedan that was in working condition also was parked there.

Peterson, who owns a triplex at 44 N. 500 West, said he was looking for a replacement for the carburetor when he received a notice from Salt Lake City on April 1, 2013, citing three city ordinances. One related to “outdoor storage of inoperable, unused or unlicensed” vehicles. Other citations referred to structures that needed to be “….in compliance with district regulations” and “fences and walls… shall be secured.”

In an interview, Peterson said the notice was confusing because it did not specify exactly what the city wanted. There was a neighbor’s fence that was sagging, but it does not belong to him. And he’d owned the triplex for decades with no hint that it didn’t meet all city regulations.

Another thing about the notice that caught Peterson’s eye was the statement that those Salt Lake City codes were “enacted to maintain life, health, safety and general welfare of the inhabitants of Salt Lake City.”

Maybe the notice was referring to the van, Peterson surmised. He hadn’t licensed it because it was not running. But how could his ‘74 Ford threaten anyone’s health, safety or general welfare? It wasn’t up on blocks rusting away.

“I thought that was wrong,” he said. “What they are saying is, I would have to have someone tow it to a lot and then pay them to store it.”

Irritated and a little confused, he ignored the notice. Peterson concedes that over the next year or so he would not sign for registered letters sent to his home from the city’s civil-enforcement department.

But about three weeks ago he did open a letter from City Hall. It was more like a bill or a demand notice that said he owed $14,400 in fines. It’s somewhat unclear how the total got that high, Peterson said. But the original notice outlined a fine of $25 per day for the fence and $25 a day for the van.

“That was the first I heard how much they were fining me,” he said.

Salt Lake City had earlier filed suit in 3rd District Court. Peterson represented himself, he said, telling the judge the citations were not fair.

The city pulled back the suit and a motion for summary judgment against Peterson in hopes an agreement could be reached, said City Hall spokesman Art Raymond.

“Enforcement action is a complaint-based process,” Raymond said. “Enforcement officers are not out looking for violations. They were responding to complaints by his neighbors.”

Peterson can appeal the fine before a city hearing officer. Raymond said it is likely the fine could be “dramatically” reduced. The city would set up a payment plan, he added, so that Peterson could more conveniently retire any fine.

The municipality tries to be flexible on code violations, Raymond said. If Peterson had called City Hall he most likely could have received an extension while he fixed and licensed his vehicle.

Nonetheless, the whole thing strikes Peterson as un-American. “I didn’t serve our country in the armed forces so I could be fined for parking in my own driveway.”

1 thought on “Salt Lake City Fines Veteran $14,400 For Parking Dead Van In His Own Driveway”

  1. If this is allowed to stand in Salt Lake City, it will soon spread to all cities and towns. I lived for many years on the line between San Carlos and Belmont, CA. If I remember correctly, my water was from San Carlos, trash service from Belmont. In Belmont, only a few years ago, they outlawed smoking in one’s own home if they were condos or apartments. Now, they are outlawing smoking in town areas, and where I live now, they are seeking to outlaw it completely.

    In other words, if you want to smoke, you have to be in certain areas…..I don’t smoke, but find this law reprehensible. It gives police far too much power, and a malicious neighbor can call the cops on you for smoking. When I had to move to a town from my beautiful rain forest due to medical issues, some of the people working for me smoked. I got a call from the front office about it……did I have someone living with me who smokes. Since I live alone, I said no, and had to explain my workers did. Insanity.

    If this guy doesn’t win this fight, it will spread like lightning to other towns. I have never been easy to live around, I don’t like old beat up cars around my house, either, but since he has them in his driveway, not the street, it is on private property. If the city wins this fight, every person has lost the right to have cars to repair in their own driveways. The micro management is beyond belief.

    I hope he gets some support and wins this fight.


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