Portable storage containers, the room-sized metal ones that are usually placed in driveways, have become an increasingly popular way to move or temporarily store household goods, but Charleston officials want to make sure their use isn't abused.

A proposed ordinance that City Council is scheduled to consider Tuesday would set a 14-day limit for keeping a portable storage unit on one's property, with the possibility of getting a 14-day extension.

"It's a directive from my constituents in Northbridge Terrace," said Councilman Aubry Alexander.

"There have been increasing complaints about PODS sitting in yards for months," he said.

PODS and UNITS are brand names for two of the better-known portable storage container companies.

Alexander said the proposed rules would apply to common shipping containers as well. He said there was a problem in his district with shipping containers sitting in some yards for years.

"They are being used more and more for alternative storage," he said.

City Zoning Administrator Lee Batchelder said current regulations are unclear on portable storage containers.

"We kind of say you can't keep them there on a long-term basis, but there's no rule that says that," Batchelder said. "It seems like these are becoming more commonplace in neighborhoods, so we felt there should be some language in the ordinance about when they will be permitted."

The proposed ordinance also says such units can't be left on the street without the city's permission, and would have to be removed immediately if a tropical storm warning or hurricane watch is declared, or if the city declares an emergency.

"We don't want these things sitting around where they could damage buildings or trees in a big storm," Batchelder said.

City Council meets at City Hall at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The ordinance, if approved, would then be referred to the Planning Commission.

Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or dslade@postandcourier.com.