Junked vehicle sweep planned for St. John Parish

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, November 29, 2017

RESERVE — St. John the Baptist Parish’s Planning and Zoning Department is conducting a code enforcement sweep Thursday targeting junked vehicles in parts of Council Districts II and III in an effort to promote the beautification of the parish and improve quality of life.

The sweep assists in enforcing a new ordinance adopted in May to improve and clarify violations pertaining to junked vehicles.

The ordinance targets vehicles that are wrecked, rusted, burnt, inoperable, abandoned, partially or fully dismantled or showing other signs of deterioration detrimental to nearby property values, according to Planning and Zoning Director Alexandra Carter.

Alexandra Carter

“The biggest criteria in the old ordinance was how long the vehicle sat and if there were expired license plates and break tags,” Carter said. “In some cases, the vehicles still looked fine or were able to start. We made changes to get to the heart of the problem, which is blight. We’re getting at the vehicles hurting property values.”

Julia Remondet

Residents are encouraged to remove junked and abandoned vehicles to avoid being ticketed, towed and fined. Those in violation will have a timeframe to resolve the problem before any parish action is taken, according to Carter.

Lennix Madere Jr.

She said the timeframe varies depending on the situation but generally stands at five days for junked vehicles.

“The goal is not to ticket people,” Carter said. “The goal is to get people to take responsibility and maintain their property. We’re not out to get anybody. This is widespread, and it’s not personal.”

Carter is pleased with the progress she’s seen since the first sweep over the summer.

“Honestly, I do think they make an impact, and code enforcement can be a tool for economic development,” Carter said. “We’re seeing more compliance across the board. No one wants to be fined. We want to get to the point where we don’t have to send notices.”

District II Councilwoman Julia Remondet said code enforcement sweeps have been effective at prompting the community to take responsibility for junked vehicles.

“The junked vehicles aren’t as prevalent as they have been in the past,” Remondet said.

“Most people are becoming very conscious of trying to do the right thing. I’d say it’s improved over the past two years.”

She said neighborhood cleanliness benefits residents by improving the housing market.

“I hope that it helps clean up the neighborhood in terms of aesthetics,” Remondet said. “Junked vehicles take away from the value of a home and a neighborhood. Cleaning the area and removing that vehicle from your neighbor’s yard actually helps increase the value of your home.”

Though progress has been made, there is still work to be done, according to District III Councilman Lennix Madere Jr.

“I do know we have a problem with junked vehicles, not with District III in particular but throughout the parish,” Madere said.

According to Madere, the code enforcement sweeps go hand-in-hand with biannual clean sweeps to promote parish beautification.

“The whole Council is very supportive of the ordinance,” Madere said. “I hope people understand it’s about beautifying the parish and neighborhoods. It’s something that’s long overdue.”

Thursday’s code enforcement sweep is the second in a series of sweeps on the East Bank of the parish.

To learn more about how the ordinance is enforced, visit sjbparish.com.