Dealing With A Neighbor’s Gross Polluting Car
K.M. wrote earlier today: I have a problem with my neighbor where I live. He has a car parked on his patio. He doesn’t drive it, yet he starts it 3 to 4 times a week. The problem is the gas fumes come into my house. I know he has been told by (the property) owner to stop but what can I do? I am always told that I am crazy and he can do it and that there is nothing I can do about it.
-Fuming in French Valley
Dear Fuming, it sounds like there are two major issue you are dealing with, the fact that the fumes from your neighbor’s car are coming into your home and the regularity with which your neighbor starts the vehicle. There are a few things you can do to help deal with both situations.
My first question would be whether or not you get along with your neighbor in the first place. Hopefully, if you have a good enough relationship to begin with, you can speak with your neighbor about when and how often they choose to start their vehicle.
Perhaps you can work out a schedule when you know your neighbor will be starting their vehicle so you can close your windows and doors, just during those times when your neighbor is keeping their motor primed and running properly.
Please understand, starting a “Non-Operating” vehicle regularly is necessary to keep the engine and other working parts from sustaining unnecessary damage while the vehicle is sitting unused. So keep in mind, the constant, repetitive starting of the vehicle is actually a necessary and important part of the vehicle’s ongoing maintenance, even (if not specifically) while it is just sitting on a patio.
However, if you believe the car might be considered a gross polluter you can contact the enforcement branch of the DMV that investigates potential gross polluting vehicles.
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, to report a smoking vehicle, you may submit a Complaint Form for Smoking Vehicles to the Air Resources Board, or call your ARB or the local Air Pollution Control District. To reach the Air Resources Board (throughout California) you can call 1-800-END-SMOG.
When you call, the DMV requests you have the following information ready to report:
- Vehicle Type
- License Plate Number
- Date, Time, and Location of the Incident
- Make and Model of the Vehicle
You can also contact the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The SCAQMD is the air pollution control agency for all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, considered to be among the smoggiest regions of the U.S.
But my advice is to always try and work things out with the neighbor before going any official route. This is someone you presumably could have to live next to for a prolonged and indefinite period of time. So a little bit of effort and diplomacy now could cut through a lot of the fumes between your two families in the future.
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