Council Leery Over Code Changes Relating to Cars for Sale

It will no longer be against the rules to park your car on the street in Leesburg to advertise it for sale. It’s a move that has some Town Council members nervous about the consequences.

This week, as part of its annual batch of Town Code amendments, the council removed a prohibition on parking cars on town streets for the purpose of advertising them for sale. The move was clearly not one the council wanted to make, but it was necessary to comply with federal law.

Deputy Town Attorney Christine Newton said repealing that code section was one of the first things Town Attorney Christopher Spera brought to staff’s attention when he began his work at Town Hall last August. Spera represented his former employer, the City of Alexandria, when it was challenged in court by a city resident who said their city code section that prohibited parking vehicles on city streets for the purpose of advertising their sale was unconstitutional. Scott McLean argued that prohibiting the displaying of a sign listing the vehicle for sale was a form of content-based restriction of his First Amendment right to commercial speech. The court agreed. 

The town government will still be able to prevent for-sale cars from flooding the streets for an indefinite amount of time, as cars are prohibited from being unattended on streets for 10 days or more, Newton said. In response to a question, Spera said he believed that commercial establishments placing for-sale cars on town streets without a permit would be a violation. 

Council  members asked for further clarification on the length of time cars could be parked on public streets, but did approve the change as part of its batch amendments.

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