Is Carvana Operating an Illegal Storage Facility?

By now I’m sure you’ve seen the ads. Carvana is advertising hard right now. And who can blame them? The used car market is at an all-time high right now, and dealers are making money hand-over-fist. However, the brand has also had its fair share of bad PR lately. Recently, the brand was banned from operating in North Carolina for 180 days. Now, they’ve been accused of operating an illegal storage facility.

Apparently, a county fair has something to do with this?

A Carvana vending tower in Huntington Beach, CA
Carvana sales boomed during the pandemic | Mark Ralston via Getty Images

Now, don’t go lighting torches and sharpening pitchforks, but I hate county fairs. The food is gross, and I’m not the biggest fan of kids. However, that doesn’t mean Carvana should just be able to take over a lot where a fair is being held. Let people enjoy things. According to the Daily Bulletin, that’s exactly what the retailer is accused of doing. Recently, the city of Pomona, CA, sent a cease and desist letter to the retailer.

In it, City Attorney Sonia Carvalho states that Carvana is operating an illegal storage facility on Fairplex grounds. The LA County Fair is held at Fairplex. That lot sometimes sits empty. Obviously, the fair isn’t held every day. Clearly, the hot new dealership service thought they could move in for a little. Well, it turns out that legally, you can’t do that. It would be like you moving into your neighbor’s apartment while they were on vacation.

Carvana has reportedly created a “public nuisance”

A Civic Type R can be seen in one of the brand's vending towers in California
Car vending machines are becoming more common in the U.S | Mark Ralston via Getty Images

Just because a person (or business) isn’t there, doesn’t mean it’s fair game to move in and use their closet to hold your Yu-Gi-Oh! collection. The letter says that Carvana is creating a “public nuisance” through its use of the Fairplex grounds as a storage facility. Moreover, the city states that Carvana’s “illegal activity causes significant noise, dust, vibration, air quality and traffic impacts on the surrounding area.” Strong words. Those words are, of course, backed up by that cease and desist.

Effectively, Carvana has 30 days to stop doing what it’s doing. But what if they don’t? Should that be the case, the city will take further legal action “without warning.” And the city is right. Presently, the retailer does not have the proper permits to operate the storage lot, even if they did have an agreement with the owners of Fairplex. On top of that, the lot isn’t zoned for use as a storage facility for a dealership.

Is Carvana too good to be true?

The Carvana logo displayed on a smartphone
All-online car sales is an appealing premise | Pavlo Gonchar via Getty Images

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Carvana’s own ads say that “people think Carvana is too good to be true.” Of course, in the ad, they’re talking about their trade-in values. However, their business practices may well be too good to be true. For now, we’ll have to wait and see if the dealership decides to play hardball. However, it’s hard to imagine they do given their recent bad PR.