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West Ventura County Focus

SANTA PAULA : Council Opposes Abandoned-Car Fee

September 09, 1993|SARA CATANIA

The Santa Paula City Council has rejected a county proposal that would add $1 to vehicle-registration fees to pay towing costs for abandoned cars.

Balking at forcing all residents with cars to pay towing fees for a few scofflaws, the council voted 3 to 1 to oppose the plan.

"It won't be long before the special fees are more than the license fee," said Councilman John Melton, who voted against the proposal. "It's just another way to raise taxes."

Melton pointed out that county residents already pay $6 in fees in addition to their registration costs: $4 for air pollution control, $1 for stolen vehicle recovery and $1 for roadside boxes.

A part-time college student employed by the Santa Paula Police Department now handles the city's "vehicle abatement program," ticketing cars and arranging to have them towed by a wrecking company.

Last year, the wrecking company towed 324 vehicles at no charge to the city, according to police records.

In order for the plan to be approved, four of the five county supervisors and at least six of the county's 10 cities with more than half its population would have to accept the proposal by Oct. 1.

The proposal would then be sent to the state Department of Motor Vehicles and California Highway Patrol for processing. The plan would go into effect either in January of 1994 or 1995, depending on the speed of those departments, said Steven DeGeorge, a spokesman for the county's Transportation Commission.

Santa Paula is the first city to make a decision about the proposal, DeGeorge said.

Santa Paula council members Al Urias and Robin Sullivan joined Melton in opposing the plan. Mayor Margaret Ely cast the lone supporting vote. Council member Wayne Johnson was absent.

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