Butte cracking down on unsightly, illegally parked vehicles

2012-04-19T00:00:00Z Butte cracking down on unsightly, illegally parked vehiclesBy John Grant Emeigh of The Montana Standard Montana Standard

Owners of hapless heaps and junky jalopies are asked to get their clumsy clunkers out of sight.

And as the county’s code enforcement officer, Gary Corbin can help: It’s his job to put teeth in the city’s Junk Motor Vehicle Program.

Since 1975, it has been against the law to leave unlicensed and unregistered cars and trucks parked in one place on city streets or private property in plain sight for long periods of time.

Corbin says the city wants to get a handle on its junk vehicle problem as part of an effort to beautify the Mining City. Corbin says it’s keeping him busy.

Within one block of West Galena Street Wednesday morning, Corbin tagged four rigs that fit the criteria of a junk vehicle. The notice advises the owner that he or she has five days to move it or get it licensed. Corbin also sends a letter with the same warning.

If nothing happens, the vehicle is towed.

“The last thing I want to do as a code enforcement officer is to take someone’s vehicle,” he said.

Most people are good about complying. Corbin says he tows one of every seven vehicles he cites.

Some owners play what Corbin calls a “shell game.” They move the vehicle to another part of the city, but it doesn’t take long for him to find them, he said.

Corbin tags about a dozen vehicles in a day. In the past two and a half years as code enforcer, Corbin estimates he’s towed — and crushed — more than 400 cars.

The oldest junk car that landed in the crusher was a 1951 Plymouth.

“I hated to see them crush it, because it’s like crushing a piece of history,” Corbin said.

Still, it’s against the law to have unlicensed junk vehicles on private property if they are in plain view of a public thoroughfare. Corbin says his department will tow these vehicles without charge if the homeowner calls his office.

Corbin also reminded people that scrap yards can’t accept junk vehicles unless the owner has the title.

However, the county will tow junk vehicles free of charge without a title.

Landlords can have the county tow vehicles that have been abandoned by renters.

To report or get rid of junk vehicles, call the community enrichment office at 497-5022.

— Reporter John Grant Emeigh may be reached via email at or phone at 496-5511. Follow him at

Copyright 2015 Montana Standard. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(9) Comments

  1. DrivebyGravy
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    DrivebyGravy - April 22, 2012 8:45 am
    Ugly gasguzzlin hummers should be banned.
  2. Comparadun
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    Comparadun - April 20, 2012 2:52 pm
    Well, this is at least something better than going after someone for not cutting their shubbery.
  3. Orion
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    Orion - April 19, 2012 8:13 pm
    I cant believe the rubbish Im reading on here. If the city/county twos a vehicle it should be put up for auction and the state issue a title. If they did that they would make more revenue that crushing it. So what if it gets towed again? Its just more revenue. And as for towing companys towing and charging the tow that is ridiculous. You would have tow companys fighting over tows and stealing cars just for the money. Idaho when they impound a vehicle they do auction it and retitle it. Montana needs to come out of the dark ages and come to the light. Just like most of you posting.
  4. JustSumGuy
    Report Abuse
    JustSumGuy - April 19, 2012 1:42 pm
    This program really should be funded by a "bounty" system whereby the locations and descriptions of the vehicles that have been cited and are still out of compliance are posted to a web site accessible to all of the towing/salvage companies in town. The party that picks up a vehicle and properly disposes of it will be given $75 out of $100 paid as a fine by the vehicle owner. The remaining $25 of the $100 fine should cover processing overhead. Also, existing parking enforcement officers should be responsible for citing non-compliant vehicles and each should be accountable for citing no fewer than two such vehicles per day.
  5. rukidnme
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    rukidnme - April 19, 2012 10:06 am
    Speaking of 'unsightly,' how about the general junk and open firepit on Cobban (2nd block east of Farragut)? If it's not illegal to have an open fire on a city street, it should be!
  6. gafux2
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    gafux2 - April 19, 2012 9:22 am
    " I hate my neighbor, and even though I can't see it from the street or my property, I know he has an unfinished project car that he hasn't worked on since he was injured. Please come and get him." It did happen. And even after licensing, because of the condition the restoration was in, it was still labeled a "junk" vehicle. I can see going after people that are big problems but if its out of site off the street on private property, they should be taking these. If you have to trespass to see it, I don't think it is "in plain site."
  7. btm_down
    Report Abuse
    btm_down - April 19, 2012 9:10 am
    Disposing of these things is mostly paid for by the junk vehicle tax added to your license plate renewals, so his job really is funded forever. Still, it would be nice to see some of the more desireable ones like the Plymouth (I'm asuming there was some redeemable value and it wasn't in too terrible shape, this may be incorrect in this case) go to auction rather than the crusher.
  8. herefortheshow
    Report Abuse
    herefortheshow - April 19, 2012 8:37 am
    This is a great thing for the city! Finally, some of the junk cars that have been laying around for years can be removed. When I drive/walk/bike around the city, the number of abandoned vehicles that are eyesores is apparent.

    Plastic and duct tape does not a window make! Flat tires, dead batteries and a car that has not been licensed since the Carter administration needs to be towed away.

    Thanks, Corbin!
  9. Benaround
    Report Abuse
    Benaround - April 19, 2012 3:26 am
    Corbin tags about a dozen vehicles in a day.

    At that rate he will be guaranteed a job untill his retirement. Why not try a DOZEN vehicles an hour, you know, try to make a differance!

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