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Council to get update on unlicensed contractors

Code enforcement investigated more than 3,200 complaints in 2020-21

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Oct 12, 2021

Cape Coral City Council will get an update on unlicensed contracting at its meeting Wednesday.

Staff will present an overview of enforcement and education efforts during the council workshop set to begin at 3 p.m.

Many unlicensed workers get much of their business from advertising on Facebook or NextDoor and even going door to door for side jobs, officials said.

Code enforcement investigated more than 3,200 complaints in 2020-21, including checks on sites, licenses or permits. The state issues at least 18 types of certificates of competency for construction contractors.

The city issues cease and desist letters; written warnings; conducts sweeps; conducts stings with other agencies; and works towards mediation with homeowners and workers.

Among the ways the city will address this issue is through coordination with the police department for undercover stings; increase construction site checks; faster response to complaints made by those who are licensed; quarterly sweeps with state agency assistance; monthly meetings with the CCCIA; public education to HOAs, civic groups and professional associations; local licensing changes; and the assessment of staff needs as the city has just two full-time officers funded by the building fund.

In other business:

• City Manager Rob Hernandez has asked LeeTran to give a presentation to City Council on the services it provides.

LeeTran provides four routes with more than 350 stops and a ridership of nearly 180,000 per year to the city. The numbers for LeeTran dipped during the pandemic in FY2020 by 25 percent, especially after March when business shutdown mandates were issued. Things started to rebound this past spring before taking another dip this summer as COVID cases again spiked.

The numbers for September are not yet available to give complete numbers for FY 2021.

The city will also hear a presentation from the city regarding public transportation bus stop benches and shelters.

The city attorney has said the city is in good standing to request Creative Outdoor Advertising of America to remove the benches and enter into an agreement with LeeTran to service benches and shelters related to transit.

Council will discuss a path forward, including communicating with COA about the need to remove its benches, coordinate with LeeTran timing for them to provide benches for the city and facilitate smooth transition between both entities.

Issues include a gap of service between COA and LeeTran, potential legal challenges and a communication strategy with users.

• Council will discuss an ordinance that would establish minimum standards for food trucks and hot dog carts, which stems from changes made in state statutes.

At issue is that cities may not ban food trucks, which Cape Coral did for years except for special events.

In 2013 and 2015 the city drafted zoning regulations for food trucks. Following public hearings, the ordinance was not adopted. At the time there were about 18 food trucks operating in the city.

The ordinance would allow food trucks to operate in all non-residential zoning districts except the preservation district. They will be prohibited in residential areas except if located in public parks and recreational facilities, city parking lots or government owned and leased facilities and the MFDV complies with certain additional requirements.

• Council will get updates on the North 1 UEP project and on Waste Pro.

The workshop will be held in Council Chambers at City Hall, 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.

All meetings are pen to the public.