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Cape eyes ban on ‘lawn parking’

By Staff | Nov 26, 2019

Cape Coral City Council wants residents to keep cars off the grass at their homes as part of new parking regulations they are considering.

On that much, the council can agree.

Other questions regarding what types of vehicles residents can park in their driveways and whether residents can place covers on their cars divided the board during its Monday meeting.

Currently, there are no prohibitions against parking on one’s grass though parking on vacant lots is banned, said Cape Coral Director of Community Development Vince Cautero.

There are regulations on the books laying out limits on certain types of vehicles (certain commercial trucks) residents can park at single-family residences, but the board is considering making an ordinance that more clearly defines regulations for commercial vehicles.

State law allows folks to park on the grass of public rights-of-way if the vehicle is parallel to the roadway or in line with traffic flow. City Manager John Szerlag told the board the city has the right to ban this as well, though the board supports allowing its continuance.

Council also appeared willing to allow homeowners to let guests park on the lawn for special events.

Figuring out which types of vehicles to allow in driveways created debate. The council and town officials discussed scenarios involving whether limits should be based on such items as the display of lettering, the type of cargo in the truck bed (ladders, scaffolding) to the size of the truck.

“The weight, the height, the length of the vehicle is the cornerstone of this regulation,” Cautero said.

Mayor Joe Coviello said he wants to limit the number of commercial vehicles in a driveway to perhaps two. He also expressed concern about hurting the livelihoods of workers who use vehicles for business.

Councilmembers John Carioscia and John Gunter were aligned in opposing commercial vehicles to be parked in residential driveways that have ladders or other cargo in the beds.

“The pickup trucks need to be empty,” Gunter said. “The bed needs to be emptied,” he said.

Councilmember Rick Williams disagreed on calling a truck “commercial” for having a loose ladder in the back of a pickup truck. He doesn’t like “wraps” or “painted” permanent lettering on vehicles being in private driveways.

Councilmember Jessica Cosden supports allowing commercial trucks to park in private driveways.

“I think there would be a lot more consequences” to working-class people, she argued.

Another regulation which received debate from the board was the subject of allowing residents to place covers on their cars outside. Carioscia, Gunter and Councilmember Jennifer Nelson called for banning car covers.

City Attorney Dolores Menendez said some residents put covers on their cars to protect them from the elements. She said the city could regulate the quality of covers. Nelson said that could turn into a judgment issue.

Gunter expressed worry that those who cover their cars own unregistered vehicles.

“Most of the time, they are really trying to hide the other issue which is the vehicle is unregistered,” he said. “Ban them altogether,” Gunter said.

Councilmember Lois Welsh disagreed. Her husband covers their convertible “which is registered,” she said. He uses a “beautiful custom cover” to keep off dust, Welsh said.

“I prefer to stay married and I certainly would not vote for any ordinance that bans car covers but how are we to say the majority of our citizens who cover their cars are derelict in the registration of their vehicles?”

Cosden and Williams supported Welsh.

“If it’s covered with a neat cover, leave it alone. I don’t know why we would want to try and find a violation unless it’s obvious,” Williams said.

Coviello said he wants to regulate the covers.

“People cover cars for different reasons,” he said. “I don’t want to penalize everybody.”

City Planner Robert Peterson said staff would return to the board with proposals.