Why doesn't New Mexico conduct vehicle inspections? Can you park on landscaping in front of own home? - Albuquerque Journal

Why doesn’t New Mexico conduct vehicle inspections? Can you park on landscaping in front of own home?

VANDALS FORCE ME TO PARK IN MY YARD: Nathan Curtner emails “I have been parking without issue on my dirt setback for 12 years due to vandalism/moving truck damage/theft that arose from street parking.”

But in January, Nathan got a notice of violation from the city that “asserts I must be parked in a driveway or drive aisle, which conflicts with other rules set out in the IDO regarding homes built before 2007.

“Mine is a late 1970s home. These are humble and narrow duplex homes, and with one vehicle parked at the curb I can’t even put a garbage can out without blocking my own driveway. It would appear everyone in my neighborhood with similar yard parking habits on Shannon NW received this same letter.”

YOU CAN’T PARK ON LANDSCAPING: Tim Walsh, public information coordinator of Albuquerque’s Planning Department, says “when Code Enforcement inspectors did their sweep of the area, the properties where violations were issued did not appear to have surfaces that were improved. An improved surface is defined in subsection 6-8(G)(2)(a) of the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) as, ‘impervious surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt, or all-weather pervious surfaces, such as recycled asphalt, compacted crusher fines, or compacted angular stone. In order to enjoy nonconforming status under this Section 14-16-6-8, any such improvements must have been installed for and be suitable for the specific purpose of front-yard parking and maneuvering.'”

But what about older homes? Walsh says “IDO subsection 6-8(G)(2)(a) Front Yard Parking Areas in Existence Prior to June 17, 2007, states, ‘front-yard parking areas that do not satisfy the requirements of this IDO that were improved for and specifically dedicated to use as front-yard parking area prior to June 17, 2007 – when City Council adopted O-07-61, which first regulated front yard parking – and that otherwise satisfied the requirements of all applicable regulation in place at the time of their installation, may continue to be used as front-yard parking areas pursuant to the provisions of this IDO governing nonconforming uses and structures.”

And that boils down to you can park on an area that has been “improved” with concrete, fine rock, etc., but not on a dirt yard, dead grass or landscaping gravel. Walsh says “they need to have an improved surface for and specifically dedicated to use as front-yard parking area.”

MORE ON THE NO-PLATE CRACKDOWN: Readers have continued to weigh in now that the Albuquerque Police Department is focusing on citing drivers of vehicles without license plates.

One shares in an email the citations have “a backlash to it too, because my son’s license plate was stolen off of his car while he was parked in the Smith’s park(ing lot) – so people are getting license plates, but not the right way.”

And a former Texas resident here has a clarification after a reader said that state requires residents to get new plates. “No, Texas does NOT require you to purchase new license plates every five years. They recommend changing them every seven years, and there are plenty of folks driving there with missing tags.” At txdmv.gov there’s a form to get replacement plates if yours are “lost, stolen, mutilated or need replacement for cosmetic/readability reasons” for a $6.50 fee.

A reader sent this photo as an example of a vehicle that might need to be inspected by the state. (Courtesy photo)

AND NO VEHICLE INSPECTIONS: Another reader asks “why doesn’t N.M. require regular car inspections? We are one of the few states which inexplicably ignores the danger of cars with no brakes; no working lights; and, in my observation, barely enough body metal to hold the car together. Inspections could weed out the loud louts, as well.”

Back in 2015 a reader shared a similar concern, and this column included some history on the topic. State Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, shared that we used to require annual vehicle inspections until the mid-1970s, when the law was repealed. He explains it was really just a cursory look at the headlights, tail lights, windshield and wipers; things like brakes and operations of the vehicle were not examined. “Many times there was not much inspection,” he said, “and thus the reason to repeal.” Instead, now we rely on law enforcement to cite a vehicle driver for unsafe condition/lack of required equipment under statutes 66-3-801-875 and 66-3-901.

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; dwestphal@abqjournal.com; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.

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