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Council member’s code enforcement involvement angers some residents

By Staff | Apr 24, 2018

Cape Coral resident Crystal Pescatori had her trailered boat parked along the side of her yard.

City code, though, allows for backyard parking for boats only. To be in compliance, a boat needs to be docked or parked behind an invisible line marking the back wall of the house.

Fair enough, Pescatori thought, taking little issue with the warning citation she received.

That is until she found out the complaint was made by the City Council member who represents her district.

Pescatori says code enforcement told her District 1 Council-member John Gunter turned in about 150 violation photos to the city. That included hers – for a boat she says was not visible from the road as it was parked behind a solid-panel fence.

“It’s not about code violations, it’s about why he’s doing this and we’re not paying him to do this. That’s what code enforcement is for,” Pescatori said. “I looked on e-TRAKiT and it clearly states John Gunter on the complaint.

“I get it, the code’s the code, you have to be compliant, but I don’t think it’s the best use of a council member’s time – especially not of his own district that he represents,” she added. “He should be working on Bimini Basin; that would be more important.”

Gunter, who confirmed he did go into the area looking for violations, said it’s a fairness issue, that codes need to be administered uniformly and he was researching whether the city was doing that.

The council member brought up the problem of code violations in the city several weeks ago and said he met with the code enforcement director about properties where obvious violations were occurring.

“I made some observations on certain properties in an area where we went in and gave a notice of non-compliance. They said there were others where we did no action,” Gunter said. “I did my own investigation to see if what they said was accurate.”

Gunter said he spoke with Pescatori about the issue and followed up on other citizens’ complaints, many of which were in his district. Once he got his information, he met with the city’s code enforcement director, Gunter said, adding the idea is to ensure code enforcement is administered equally, regardless of where someone in non-compliance may live or the size of the house.

“Code enforcement has to be enforced equally and fairly for everyone. If we get a complaint in a particular area, we need to look at the area around there because there’s no reason to cite one individual if there are three or four others with violations,” Gunter said.

City spokesperson Connie Barron said there is nothing to preclude a council member – or any citizen – from filing a code complaint.

Warnings do not come with fines unless the matter is not brought into compliance.