More than a dozen vehicles tagged in St. John junked vehicle sweep

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, June 21, 2017

LAPLACE — More than a dozen vehicles were tagged Monday in LaPlace during a coordinated code enforcement blitz targeting junked vehicles and neighborhood decay.

Led by St. John the Baptist Parish’s Planning and Zoning Department, code enforcement officers worked in teams covering 38 blocks from Woodlawn Drive to the North, Colony Park Drive to the South, Yorktowne Drive to the East and English Colony Drive to the West.

Director Alexandra Carter said 11 vehicles were tagged for on-property violations and a separate vehicle investigation was initiated for a potential in-violation home mechanic operation.

Another five vehicles were tagged for violations while parked on the street, which falls under the St. John Sheriff’s Office’s grasp.

The Planning and Zoning Department effort was focused on property violations where run-down and stationary vehicles are creating eyesores and hurting the quality of life and property values of neighbors.

Carter said staffers spoke with nearly every resident in violation about resolution options, which would avoid fines and towing. However, a time clock has been initiated, with many residents compelled to produce action within five days or face parish response.

“We picked an area where we knew we have problems and made a show of force that would make an impact,” Carter said. “We know our capacity and we want to commit to enforcing this ordinance.”

The sweep was the result of the Parish Council’s May ordinance adoption that improved and clarified violations pertaining to junked vehicles.

Carter said Parish employees don’t necessarily want to sweep each street in St. John, racking up violations and fees, but instead want word to get out about new enforcement, which hopefully leads to personal action for violators that doesn’t involve $250 parish fines and additional tow truck company fees.

“What we do now is determine how long it is going to take to process these cases,” Carter said. “We’re going to see what we are capable of doing efficiently. We want to do it smart, so our expectations are to do it one time, see how it goes and schedule another (sweep) and improve on the process.

“By the close of this year, I am hoping that we have at least three or four (sweeps) done and word is spreading from one district to another. The idea is residents become more interested and correct these violations before we come back. There is no rush because we don’t want to come in and catch people unaware. We want that word of mouth St. John is so well known for to sort of work its magic.”

Depending on which tag a junked vehicle receives, the property owner or vehicle owner — depending on where it is located — is compelled to take corrective action in five or seven days or face removal and fines at their expense.

“These outstanding violations do have a negative impact on neighborhoods,” Carter said. “We can’t continue to let it stand without any sort of penalty.”

Those with concerns should contact the Parish’s Code Enforcement Division at 985-359-1195 or