An $8000 Flat Tire: California, Reduced to Its Essence

October 19, 2010

How much trouble could a flat tire in your driveway cause?

Let’s see, there’s the inconvenience of not being able to drive the car, the need to sort of work around the car as you use your driveway, and then, if you get motivated, there’s all that goes with getting the tire repaired. That would include jacking up the car, removing the wheel and taking it somewhere to be repaired and that is about it.

But if you live in Diamond Bar, California, where a flat tire deems a car inoperable and in violation of city ordinances, there may be a lot more to contend with as a result of low psi. In this city of about 60,000 residents at the confluence of the Pomona and Orange freeways, it cost an unemployed pharmacist $8,000 in bail bonds and legal fees--not to mention a visit at his home by sheriff’s deputies--to serve a warrant for his arrest.

A picture of the family heirloom, a 1979 Mercedes 450 SL looks like it has been well cared for, an assessment that both city officials and the owner agree upon according to an article on sgvtribune. There are differing accounts of what happened since April, when the first citation for a flat tire on the SL was issued, and August when failure to appear in court resulted in an arrest.

The Mercedes' owners said the city failed to communicate with them and accused the administration of generating revenue. The Community Development Director said the city has recently started pursuing violators through the court system, but denied that the legal action is motivated by income production.  He said that the system is compliance-driven as opposed to revenue-driven.

Neither the city’s mayor nor the prosecuting attorney are talking, while the defense attorney feels the city’s action was aggressive and would not rule out the possibility of jail time for her client.

In the photo behind the link, possibly taken at the garage where the owner had it towed, the 30-year old Mercedes looks like it is wondering what all the fuss is about. The 57-year-old owner, on the other hand, may be looking ahead to better times when he might be behind the wheel again.


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