SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – If you like restoring antique cars, or you have a few fixer-upper projects in your driveway in Santa Fe—you may have a stake in next month’s city council meeting. The city is looking at tightening up its laws about ‘junk vehicles,’ and it could mean some hefty fines if passed.

Lawmakers in Santa Fe say complaints are rolling in about ‘junk vehicles’ rusting out and becoming eyesores in neighborhoods around the city. “Our constituent services people—in a 12-month period, from April 2020 to April 2021—received 183 unsightly yard or nuisance/blighted property complaints,” says Carol Romero-Wirth, city councilor for Santa Fe District 2.

In light of the volume of complaints, the city is working on a more well-defined solution. “This is data-driven government,” says Alan Webber, mayor of Santa Fe.

The new ‘Junk Vehicle Ordinance’ looks to tighten up laws already on the books and does not look to penalize people for their hobbies of fixing up cars or for having antique car collections; rather, it looks to help neighbors seek legal relief properties that are truly getting out of hand.

“We’d send inspectors out, check it out. Make sure it’s a legitimate complaint. Let folks know if they’re not conforming to this new ordinance that they need to clean up their act. If they don’t, they get cited; there would be a fine. They’d have time to fix it,” Webber says.

That fine could be steep: “We’re trying to tie the fines and fees to our nuisance enforcement and penalties which run about a hundred dollars a day for a violation,” Romero-Wirth says.

So—what would this ordinance say? “We are updating the definition of a junk vehicle, of a special interest vehicle. We are putting limits on how many special interest vehicles can be on a property,” Romero-Wirth says. Not only that, but where those vehicles can be kept and how they’re hidden from view. “We are specifying that tarps and trees or shrubs are not appropriate methods of screening a special interest vehicle from view,” Romero-Wirth says.

These measures stem from concerns about the livability of neighborhoods and their effects on property values. The mayor says it’s better if neighbors can work out these issues amongst themselves; but if they can’t, they want the law to be clear for code enforcement.

“We’re trying to establish a balance between what’s a fun hobby and what’s a problem for your neighbors,” Webber says.

For more information on the ordinance, read about it here. There will be a public hearing on July 13th. The public can testify at the hearing, submit written comments, or email the city council or the mayor to make your voice heard.