An abandoned vehicle along Heceta Beach Road that drew a mixture of concern and disgust from many area residents Tuesday will likely be gone by this time tomorrow. The vehicle, a blue, late 80s four-door Honda, came to the attention of Florence residents Tuesday morning when a passing driver on his way to work saw a racial slur had been spray-painted on the side facing the roadway reading: “Kill Ni-ers” (sic). The driver, Dylien Jack, took a photo of the vehicle and posted it to the Florence, Oregon Facebook page, where it immediately drew a flurry of comments condemning the racially-themed vandalism.
As local and county officials worked to determine whether the vehicle was on private or public property — and ultimately what steps could be taken to remove the vehicle — residents continued to weigh in on social media as to the motivation behind the vandalism and what could be done to have the car removed.
Lane County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) Public Information Officer Sgt. Carrie Carver explained that the agency was aware of the situation surrounding the vandalized Honda but, unfortunately, was limited in the response it could take to remove the car. Carver pointed out the abandoned vehicle was believed to be sitting on private property and, unless it posed a public safety risk, LCSO would need permission from the property or vehicle owner to remove the abandoned vehicle.
The City of Florence had no oversight responsibility for the vehicle or any authority to intervene in the matter.
This afternoon, Devon Ashbridge, Public Information Officer for Lane County, said that the vehicle was in the process of being tagged, after which it could be towed away after a 24-hour waiting period.
“We have continued to work with the property owner, as well as field staff, to determine where the right-of-way ends,” said Ashbridge. “We have enough information that indicates the abandoned vehicle is partly in the public right-of-way. This allows us to tag the car for removal and, after the required 24-hour waiting period, we will tow it away.”
Since yesterday, the county had been pursuing two avenues to remove the vehicle, the second being through code compliance. Due to damage the vehicle had sustained during its three weeks in that location, it could have been removed under Lane County’s nuisance vehicle storage code. The drawback was that it required the vehicle to have been in the same location for 90 days.
“The fact that it’s on public property allows us to move much more quickly,” said Ashbridge, who added that property owner James Head said he’s supportive of the county adding barriers to prevent cars from parking on the property in the future. “We are still in the process of determining what kind of barrier can be placed safely in that location. Residents will likely see surveyors staking out the right-of-way this week in preparation.”
In the future, should a car be abandoned in the same location, “It will be immediately clear that it’s in public right-of-way and we can take immediate steps to remove it,” Ashbridge said. “We appreciate how many community members called in to report the vehicle and to report the reprehensible statement that had been spray painted on it.”