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Chulakes-Leetz: More review and input needed on residential parking ordinance

By Staff | Jul 30, 2012

One by one, citizens came up to the podium Monday to express their views to the Cape Coral City Council on a controversial ordinance that would allow certain commercial vehicles, RVs and boats to be parked in residential driveways.

It was a scene council members have revisited countless times in recent weeks.

This week, Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz proposed a way to handle the hot-button issue.

Chulakes-Leetz proposed getting staff, council, and anyone who will listen together to explore the ordinance and find ways to make it as palatable to as many people as possible.

He asked City Manager John Szerlag if he had received anything from council in regards to reviewing ordinances, then asked if he could start a meeting with staff and neighborhood associations regarding ideas for changes in the ordinance.

“It’s been eight years since we reviewed it, we should look into it,” Chulakes-Leetz said. “(Code Enforcement Director) Frank Cassidy said the ordinance needs to be changed, and he’s an expert.”

More than 20 people took the podium during last week’s lengthy council meeting to express views on the hottest issue since the proposed fishing ban on bridges. The issue has also arisen in previous meetings and has been debated for years.

And while this was only a workshop meeting, residents still had things to say, including some ideas.

“The code doesn’t address many things, like how many vehicles can be on property or whether they need to be on improved surfaces,” said resident Bruce Marvin. “I would be amiable to a fee permit so someone who works at Comcast can park at home if they have a permit.”

These are the ideas Chulakes-Leetz said he wants to hear to improve on what’s on the table, and that council and the city has an obligation to listen.

“My effort is to create a dialogue so we can first identify if a problem exists or if an ordinance isn’t clear enough,” Chulakes-Leetz said. “Once we find a problem, we’ll identify a solution. If we stick our heads in the dirt and say ‘no problem’ we’re not working for our residents.”

Not everyone was in favor of what one called a “new committee.”

“Let the e-mails come. It’s another controversial issue. Another new committee would open a Pandora’s Box,” Councilmember Derrick Donnell said.

Councilmember Rana Erbrick gave a guarded blessing to Chulakes-Leetz’s idea, but from what she’s heard, the ordinance should stay as is.

“As long as he keeps it with the staff so he gets an idea of what it wants,” Erbrick said. “The e-mails I get are overwhelmingly for not touching it. They said one of the reasons they came here are for the rules.”

Regardless of how this issue is addressed moving forward, Marvin promised he would make his voice heard.

“It takes more than three minutes to go over the current regulations,” Marvin said. “You’re going to see more of me.”