How many RVs does Los Angeles impound when they’re declared abandoned? Your guess is a good one, surely. But right now there are 97 of them taking up a lot of space in police garages. What to do? Los Angeles will recycle impounded RVs—paying a big price in the process.
LA’s Police Commission has signed off on a $250,000 contract with an area recycler to take 97 impounds off the city’s hands. SA Recycling says it can handle as many as 15 derelict RVs per day. In addition to the 97 already impounded, the contract covers any others that might show up in the next two years.
When COVID-19 engulfed the city, a moratorium went into effect. It prevented the city from impounding unoccupied vehicles. The thought was that those without homes would have some place to stay, and reduce the transmission of the nasty virus. But since COVID has relaxed its grip, the no-tow moratorium was removed in April 2022. Since then the tows have come on strong, and the impound yards have bulged at the seams.
Just selling or salvaging an abandoned RV—or any other vehicle—isn’t an easy trick. Just getting a tow company to respond to an abandoned RV call is an iffy process. Before a sale or salvage can take place, the tow company has to store the unit, and give the registered owner an opportunity to redeem it. If nobody tries to bail the rig out, and no one else responds to a sale, salvage is the next step.
Los Angeles will recycle impounded RVs—but hoops to jump through
California environmental laws make taking on responsibility for a dead RV a heavy task. Most tow companies aren’t in a position to do the salvage themselves. Recyclers are wary—there’s so much “stuff” considered to be environmentally sensitive. Richard Tefank, the police commission’s executive director, said that stuff can include “gasoline, oil, antifreeze, wastewater, freon, and propane.” And, of course, holding tanks full of human waste aren’t particularly a welcome substance for recycle plant workers to deal with.
Tefank said that SA Recycling was the only recycling company that could legally handle LA’s burgeoning load of abandoned RVs within or near city limits. The commission voted November 14 to allow the contract, but it still needs approval of the LA mayor. Los Angeles will recycle impounded RVs, maybe. But where will the $250,000 to pay for the contract come from? Funding for the recycling program will come from the mayor’s Inside Safe homeless housing initiative.