About a dozen vehicles in various states of repair sat off to the side of one of Grand Cayman’s busiest intersections Monday afternoon.
One SUV had a sun-scarred roof complete with a discarded water bottle sitting on top of it. Another car’s license plate dangled sideways, partly unattached.
The vehicles at the Butterfield (A. L. Thompson’s) roundabout had two things in common: They were for sale and, as of Jan. 12, they all had warning notices posted on them from the Cayman Islands National Roads Authority.
The letters, signed by NRA Director Paul Parchment, indicate the authority would soon be performing roadwork near the roundabout as part of the planned widening of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway and that those responsible for the vehicles were committing “encroachment” offenses in a public right of way.
“You are hereby directed to have the encroachment removed within two weeks of the date of this letter,” state the documents taped to the vehicle windshields. “Otherwise, the NRA shall take further action as prescribed within [the Roads Law.]”
That “action” can include fines of $5,000 and jail terms of up to six months upon conviction. Any remaining vehicles left at the location by Jan. 26 will be towed to the NRA stockpile lot at Agnes Way.
Although the impromptu “for sale” lot at the Butterfield roundabout in George Town is probably the most well known unofficial used car lot on Grand Cayman, it is far from the only one easily in public view.
The Cayman Compass located and photographed six such locations around the island Monday where used cars were being offered for sale on properties in public view that are not car dealerships. [*]
In George Town, a vehicle with a yellow sticker tag in its windscreen was parked off to the side of Bobby Thompson Way in a small area that had been roped off.
At the King’s gym roundabout, an SUV missing its back license plate was parked on the roadside with a “for sale” sign on one of its side windows.
In Bodden Town, a vehicle for sale was parked at the corner of Shamrock and Beach Bay roads on a piece of property that was also being advertised for sale.
Government officials contacted for comment over the past week have admitted some difficulty with roadside vehicle sales or derelict vehicles in general, largely because local laws have left it to a number of different agencies to police.
For instance, in the case of the Butterfield roundabout situation, the encroachment section of the Roads Law (section 16) can be used for enforcement due to the planned road widening project, but in other cases, the realm of such enforcement is vague, according to officials.
Section 16 of the Roads Law considers an encroachment “any discarded or abandoned vehicle or portion thereof dumped or parked within sight from any public road.”
The law makes it the responsibility of the land owner or the vehicle owner to move it, but only after receiving written notice from the NRA. In the event of noncompliance, the authority itself is allowed to remove the vehicles “in such a manner as it may think fit.”
In the case of an abandoned vehicle left wrecked at the roadside, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service may take it, if it is needed for a police investigation. The Department of Environmental Health also has some responsibility to remove wrecked vehicles if the police do not require it for their purposes.
It is not always clear that a car for sale would be considered “abandoned or discarded” or whether the land it is on is public or privately owned. If it is a junked car, the revised Development and Planning Law gives the planning department significant new powers to remove vehicles or parts of vehicle considered eyesores from private property if there is a complaint.
[*] Editor’s note: Story changed from the original.