Parking unregistered cars on Dallas streets could lead to fines under proposal

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Owners of vehicles with expired registration soon may need to be more wary of parking on Dallas streets.
Those who do so without proper registration or valid license plates would risk fines up to $500 under a recent proposal by Dallas’ transportation officials.
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Such an ordinance is not uncommon and would make Dallas’ policy more consistent with those of other large U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Phoenix and Chicago.
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“Texas tends to have extremely permissive parking policies and laws,” said Julene Paul, a public affairs and planning assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. “It might be controversial. But here, in terms of the national landscape, this is sort of very, very standard.”
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The city memo outlining the proposal cited an investigation conducted by Dallas’ transportation department that found many legally parked vehicles in public spaces were there solely for repair or resale purposes. The Department did not immediately provide the specific findings of this investigation to The Dallas Morning News.
In a statement to The News, Dallas transportation director Gus Khankarli said the ordinance would address public safety and perception concerns.
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“Some of the vehicles are damaged and have jagged metal edges as a result, causing a safety hazard,” Khankarli said. “In addition, the overall condition of these vehicles gives the impression that the area is unsafe.”
These vehicles can cause environmental harm, he added, by releasing “vehicle fluids” into storm drains that then flow into the river, streams and other bodies of water.
An ordinance fining improperly registered vehicles is not new for North Texas. Garland passed a similar restriction in 2021. That city’s population is just over 240,000, less than one-fifth of Dallas’.
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The Garland ordinance was aimed at addressing limited parking space available in the city’s oldest neighborhoods, said former council member and now-mayoral candidate Deborah Morris. The Dallas ordinance could address the same concern, she added.
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In Garland, the most significant violators tended to be those illegally operating businesses to repair or sell cars out of their homes along with those who collected vehicles, Morris said.
That city issued 3,273 tickets to violators in 2022, the first full-year it was in effect, according to data provided by Garland officials. That declined by more than 1,000 in 2023 but is trending up so far this year.
Fines under the Garland ordinance rise incrementally. The first offense in a one-year period costs $25; a second offense is $50; and fines for all following offenses are $75, according to the city website.
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The goal wasn’t to punish but to “change behavior,” Morris said.
Dallas could face one challenge early on: a high demand for enforcement, Morris cautioned.
“If this passes, everyone who is troubled by having this on their street is going to be saying, ‘Come here. Come here now. Come here today, and get these cars out of here,’” she said.
While private vehicle sellers in Dallas could be impacted by such an ordinance, car dealers likely would not, said Matthew Hardin, who oversees the Dallas Used Cars Facebook group. The group, which has just under 9,600 members, allows users to buy or sell vehicles or related products.
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The proposed ordinance is “not too stringent at all,” Hardin said.
Car dealers that keep vehicles on their own property without expired licenses or registration wouldn’t be impacted, he added.
“I’d be hard-pressed to find a local ordinance that allows vehicles with expired tags and registrations being parked anywhere in a public space,” Hardin said.
If enacted, the ordinance will be enforced by the Dallas police, the Marshal’s office and parking enforcement.
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Khankarli said the City Council’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is working to incorporate feedback into the ordinance.
The Dallas City Council isn’t expected to consider the ordinance until after the July recess.

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