Beginning Wednesday, it will be illegal for anyone to place a vehicle for sale unless he or she owns the vehicle and the property on which it's parked. Even then, a person may offer only one vehicle for sale at a time.

The ordinance will not prohibit people from putting for sale" signs on their vehicles while continuing to drive the vehicles around town as part of their normal routine.

Penalties for violating the ordinance are stiff: Fines of up to $200 and, at a judge's discretion, 60 days in jail. That's per violation, which officials in the city's planning office have taken to mean each day that a vehicle is illegally offered for sale.

City leaders say the ordinance, passed unanimously by the City Council Thursday night, is intended to clean up impromptu used car lots that have sprung up on vacant properties and the peripheries of parking lots.

A prime example is the more than a dozen vehicles, all appearing to be individually owned, that are regularly parked in the vacant lot next to Wachovia Bank at the intersection of McFarland Boulevard and Rice Mine Road.

Tuscaloosa businessman Stan Pate owns the lot, as well as a few others around town where the same practice occurs, and said he doesn't like people parking their cars for sale on his property without permission.

The new ordinance also stipulates that a person cannot put their vehicle up for sale on someone else's property, even if the property owner gives permission.

How can they prohibit that? Nobody asks, and I don't like it, but I am a property owners' rights guy," Pate said. It's my property, and the City Council is getting out of bounds.

I guess we've gone from sofas to barbecue grills to now telling people where they can't park their car to try to sell it," he said, referring to other recent city ordinances restricting activities on private property.

Pate estimated that more than half of the people who park their vehicles on his property without permission are unlicensed dealers who routinely purchase used cars and put them out for sale as a money-making venture.

Those people are competing with licensed car dealers, whose complaints were the impetus for the new ordinance, said Associate City Attorney Jimbo Woodson.

Here you have these car lots in different places in town that are in direct competition with our licensed dealers. The dealers are saying, 'This doesn't seem fair to us,'" Woodson said.

The new ordinance also would prohibit curbing," the tactic of some used-car dealers of parking a car in a high-traffic location to make it appear that it belongs to a private seller.

Jerry Giles, president of the Tuscaloosa Independent Automobile Dealers Association, said licensed dealers pay for business licenses as well as taxes, insurance and bonding.

And while the new ordinance will impact individuals seeking a one-time sale of their personal vehicle, Giles said the target is so-called dealers who are skirting the law.

That's really who we were going after more than anybody else -- people making a living on it, not paying taxes, not paying insurance, not having bonds," he said.

Giles said the ordinance will also benefit consumers by safeguarding them from buying cars from someone whom they don't know and may not be found if a problem arises.

The city collected a total of $326,233 in business license fees for auto dealerships last year, said Revenue Director Linda McKinney. The fee for business licenses is not a flat rate but is based on a business' gross receipts, he said.

In Alabama, vehicles are subject to a 3.5-percent sales tax, of which the city of Tuscaloosa collects three-quarters of a percent. For 2005, the city collected almost $2.5 million in sales tax revenues from auto sales, revenue department records show.

Senior City Planner Evelyn Young said police officers likely will post notices on properties commonly used for selling vehicles, as well as on the vehicles themselves. The owners of the vehicles also likely will be given a chance to move the vehicle before a violation being issued.

Vehicle owners contacted Friday whose parked cars sitting in vacant lots or retail parking lots, marked for sale, said they didn't agree with the ordinance.

As long as the land owner says it's OK, then I think it should be OK. It doesn't have anything to do with the city," said one man who asked not to be identified.

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