Council wary of changes to code regarding cars for sale

It will no longer be prohibited to park your car on the street in Leesburg to advertise it for sale. It is a decision that makes some members of the city council worried about the consequences.

This week, as part of its annual batch of city code amendments, the council lifted the ban on parking cars on city streets for the purpose of selling them. The decision was clearly not what the board wanted to make, but it was necessary to comply with federal law.

Deputy City Attorney Christine Newton said the repeal of this section of the code was one of the first things City Attorney Christopher Spera brought to staff attention when he started his job at the town hall last August. Spera represented his former employer, the city of Alexandria, when he was challenged in court by a city resident who said the section of the city code prohibiting the parking of vehicles on city streets in order to advertise their sale was unconstitutional. Scott McLean argued that banning the display of a sign indicating the vehicle for sale was a form of restriction based on the content of his First Amendment right to commercial speech. The court agreed.

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

Council members asked for further clarification on how long cars could be parked on public streets, but approved the change as part of its batch changes.

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