Dearborn takes closer look at vehicle storage violations

DEARBORN – With the warm weather and the season for many outdoor pursuits over, the city will look closer at vehicle storage compliance with city ordinances.

The same rules prohibiting storage of recreational vehicles, trailers, and boats on residential property also apply to the long-term storage of cars and trucks that are not working and cannot be driven.

Dearborn is reminding residents about the rules prohibiting storage of recreational vehicles, trailers, and boats on their residential property.

These rules are in place to preserve the appealing character of neighborhoods, and to prevent eyesores and other problems that can result when vehicles are parked for long periods of time in residential areas, or when commercial storage or activity is wrongly taking place, city officials said.

City ordinance includes the flexibility of allowing the short-term parking of recreational vehicles for cleaning or trip-preparation. In addition, vehicles that need emergency repairs can be temporarily parked on residential property.

But, increasingly, city officials are seeing RVs, commercial vehicles, and nonworking cars and trucks taking up permanent spots in back yards and driveways across the city.

A visual survey done earlier this year by Residential Services Department inspectors showed more than 900 violations across the city.

In order to make sure owners of these vehicles are aware that they are in conflict with city ordinance, department inspectors will look for improper vehicle storage on private property in neighborhoods.

“The goal is to gain compliance, and we want to do that through education first,” Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. said. “We want to protect the integrity of our neighborhoods, and the best way to do that is make sure everyone understands what our ordinances are.”

The compliance process allows for reasonable timeframes to address the problem, while ensuring that long-term issues won’t linger.

When inspectors spot first-time violations, they will start by alerting vehicle owners to the problem and providing educational material about the issue.

Inspectors will check on the property a week later, and if the vehicle has not been removed or repaired, they will issue a formal notice of violation. The property will be rechecked in 10 days.

If, after that time, the problem still exists, the inspector will issue a court appearance ticket. Court appearance tickets for improper vehicle violations are written as misdemeanors, subject to a maximum fine of $500. Those issued tickets are required to appear in court.

At any point along the education and enforcement process, the owner of the recreational vehicle, or nonworking car or truck, can request a reasonable amount of additional time to comply.

Inspectors will respond to violations reported by a neighbor, as well as watch for situations that are highly visible and already causing a nuisance on a residential block.

“By taking these actions, we believe we have found a good balance between educating our residents and proactively addressing issues that can cause concerns in our neighborhoods,” O’Reilly said.

The process calls for less flexibility for repeat offenders.

RVs are defined as boats, recreational vehicles, snowmobiles, trailers or towable vehicles of any nature.

Commercial vehicles are described as semi-tractors or trailers; dump, flatbed, snowplow, tow and vending trucks; trucks used for commercial hauling; and taxis.

Inoperable vehicles are those cars and trucks that are on jacks; have flat tires, broken windows or doors; are in a state of disassembly; or otherwise cannot be driven.

City ordinance also prohibits the parking of any vehicle on unpaved areas of residential properties.

Residential Services Department inspectors are responsible for residential private property, city-owned property and residential and commercial vacant lots.

Police or other city departments are responsible for violations on commercial properties, public rights-of-way, sidewalks, easements and streets.

All violations can be reported to Neighborhood Services at 313-943-2161.

More details about the rules prohibiting storage of commercial vehicles, recreational vehicles and inoperable vehicles can be found at

Details are found under:
• Commercial vehicles, illegally parked vehicles, RVs, boats, recreational vehicles, and trailers — Zoning Ordinance Article 4.00 – Off-street parking and loading requirements.

• Inoperable vehicles: City Ordinance Sec. 13-2 (7) – Illustrative enumeration.

Owners of recreational vehicles and nonworking vehicles may find a facility designed for long-term storage.