Car Wash: LA's "Pop-Up" Used Car Lots

The NY Times looks at a phenomenon that is sweeping LA: pop-up used car lots, where someone will gather some vehicles together along the sidewalk and boldly sell his wares without regard for zoning laws, parking regulations, or - I assume - sales tax. Would it surprise you to learn that these fences, er, dealers have a distinctly Latino flavor?
They show up bright and early on Saturday mornings, parking cars and trucks along the side of Pacific Boulevard and polishing them inside and out. Once they have chalked prices onto the windshields (an old Honda Civic for $1,900) they are open for business: a pop-up used car lot on the side of the road.

But like so many other pop-up markets in Southern California, the dealerships are unlicensed, unregulated and, according to public officials, illegal.

Now, local governments are trying to curb the unlicensed dealers by making it illegal to park any car with a “For Sale” sign in the areas where these markets proliferate. TheCity of Los Angeles has already enacted a ban on two major streets, and the county is set to add Pacific Boulevard and many more roads to that list after a final vote Tuesday.

“This attempt to use the street as a place of business creates a hazard for businesses and residents who pay taxes to maintain those streets,” a Los Angeles County supervisor, Gloria Molina, said. “We are trying to correct a public nuisance.”

These used car markets have appeared all over Los Angeles County in the past 15 years, especially in the largely Latino communities southeast of Los Angeles like Walnut Park, where they conduct business entirely in Spanish.

The Times notes that unlicensed businesses are common in the area (No! You don't say!) with everything from bicycles to fruit to women for sale at different times of the day. Why it's almost as if, having broken the law to come to the US - why, yes, I am assuming that most of these unlicensed businessmen are illegal aliens - they don't feel constrained by any other laws we have here. Btw, I love how these are called "pop-up" used car lots, which gives them a hip, H&M sort of flair.

LA is trying to figure out how to crack down on these clowns, as if no zoning laws exist regarding where vehicles can or can't be sold. You want a crack down? Ask Crazy Juan how many of his vehicles are stolen. But, instead, city officials proclaim the problem to be intractable and "impossible" to eradicate.

Though it is illegal to operate a car sale business without a license in California, county officials call the law almost impossible to enforce.

The dealers hang around in a nearby park, playing cards or lying on park benches, waiting for customers to call. County officials say they bring the cars in from mechanic shops and nearby dealerships, in hopes of moving vehicles that have not sold. Many of the cars have the same phone numbers listed on them. Mr. Carvajal said sellers sometimes dropped cars off on tow trucks, two or three at a time.

When the dealers saw a photographer snapping pictures of the chalked windows, they quickly wiped the prices off all the windshields. They all denied they were selling cars — one man polishing a car ran away when a reporter approached him, and five others in the park said they were waiting around for a party that would start later. One pointed to a man sleeping on a bench and said, “It’s his birthday.”

Yeah, that's a real gathering of criminal masterminds there. You can see why they're untouchable. All I know is that, if I tried to pull this sort of stunt in my neighborhood, I would be ticketed into penury in short order. It's "impossible" to stop someone from operating an unlicensed used car business? Has anyone asked any of these guys for, you know, their license? Better yet, has anyone checked the VIN numbers for these vehicles? Works in the rest of the city, I'm sure, but not in the barrio, it seems.

Best Retirement Invesments Auto Search