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New parking ordinance stirs emotions

By Staff | Jun 11, 2020

Cape Coral residents have had a passion for over the past year for a lot of issues ranging from the development of city parks to noise in the South Cape to one that came to a conclusion this week — residential parking restrictions.

On Monday, Cape Coral City Council made its decision on the parking issue by prohibiting the parking of vehicles on residential lawns; by allowing for pickup trucks and vans with commercial lettering (a maximum of two), graphics or wraps to be parked on driveways, and by prohibiting commercial vehicles from parking in multi-family zoning districts.

Residential parking will still be allowed in rights-of-way as permitted by state statute, parallel to the travel lanes, facing the same direction as traffic and not on the sidewalk or pavement.

This has created some confusion as there is a distinction between parking on the grass in the right-of-way and parking on the grass on private property — the former allowed, the latter now not.

“We can’t regulate parking on the right-of-way like we can someone who parks next to a duplex, which the ordinance is targeting,” Mayor Joe Coviello said. “Council’s appetite was to remove on-the-grass parking and I think code enforcement is looking to do some education and compliance.”

Robert Pederson, city planner, said the ordinance has been subject to a lot of input. It has been in front of council through three workshop meetings in 2018, additional workshops with Planning and Zoning and another Council workshop last November.

As far as parking on the grass on private property, the ordinance is not intended to apply to the occasional party or when friends are over, city officials said. It is intended to address those who have multiple cars and not enough space in the driveway so they constantly park in the grass.

It was this section that got the most heat, as e-mailed responses to the public hearing drew mixed emotions and resulted in more questions.

Eric Gunderson said in an e-mailed response he should have the right to park on the grass, as it is his property.

“I’m responsible for the taxes and the condition of the property, which includes my grass around the property. In that Cape Coral does not have street parking, where is a large family supposed to park,” Gunderson asked. “If this law was to take effect, I would have to build a circular driveway, which would leave the yard with more concrete.”

“Amen. Please get the cars off the grass. The Cape should not look like Lehigh,” said Charles Rushin, while Walter O’Brien also supported the prohibition, saying “it detracts from the neighborhood. No nice area allows it.”

Questions arose as to whether this would mean the end of parties in the city as well as overnight stays to see relatives, since that would likely involve having to park in the grass.

Coviello believed that the ordinance would create issues with code enforcement as there will likely be many calls out for those parking on grass initially before education sets in.

Rich Carr, code division manager, said the ordinance is enforceable, since one code is being loosened while another is being tightened, creating a wash.

“Education is key. The grass issue is less rampant than commercial vehicle violations,” Carr said. “I’m not as concerned with parking on grass as much as parking commercial vehicles in multi-family areas.”