City steps up enforcement of illegally placed vehicles; other news and notes

The City of Biloxi, armed with an ordinance passed by the City Council several weeks ago, has begun heightened enforcement of for-sale vehicles in unauthorized locations.

The city today towed several vehicles from a location off Cedar Lake Road, where they had been parked with for-sale signs attached.

The effort is in response to complaints and public hearings about for-sale vehicles being displayed at improper locations throughout the city, such as in parking lots on high-profile thoroughfares.

Previously, the city notified property owners that they had seven days to remove improper vehicles. “In a number of cases, they’d wait six days and then move the car to another location,” said Jerry Creel, director of the city’s Community Development Department, which oversees compliance with city land-use ordinances. “We were having to chase these mobile car lots all around the city.”

Under the new ordinance, the city takes action against the vehicle itself.

Improper vehicles will be marked with a sticker requiring that the vehicle be removed within 24 hours or be subject to being towed.

“The owner of the towed vehicle,” Creel said, “would have to go to Municipal Court, show title information, pay a $100 fine on the first offense, as well as towing and storage fees to whichever authorized towing company moved the vehicle. The second offense carries a $500 fine plus those fees, and the third offense carries a $1,000 fine plus fees.

“We’re doing this for a couple of reasons,” Creel said. “First, legitimate businesses were complaining about illegal and makeshift car lots popping up at various locations in the city, and, second, this practice is unsightly and contrary to our land-use ordinances.”

The ordinance does have an exception, Creel said: “A property owner is allowed to sell a vechicle — one vehicle — on his property, provided he owns the property and the vehicle. This is meant to prevent the collections of for-sale cars we’re seeing, nothing more, nothing less.”

To read the ordinance passed by the City Council restricting the locations of sales of vehicles, click here.

History Week to be celebrated Feb. 11-17

The Mississippi Coast Historical & Genealogical Society will sponsor the 17th annual Mississippi Coast History Week Feb. 11-17, with a host of events at the Donal Synder Community Center in west Biloxi.
To read more about the planned events, click here.

News and notes

Children’s carnival dance: The Parks and Recreation Department will stage its annual Mardi Gras Ball & Dance for children on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at the Donal M. Snyder Sr. Community Center. To read details about the celebration, click here.

Webcasting: This week’s “City Desk” webcast discusses a number of issues facing the city. To listen to the 14-minute program, click here.

Council schedule: The City Council’s next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall. The two other scheduled meetings for February are Monday, Feb. 19 at 1:30 p.m. (Tuesday, Feb. 20 is Mardi Gras Day, a city holiday), and Tuesday, Feb. Feb. 27 at 1:30 p.m.