The contentious issue of whether to allow pickup trucks to be parked overnight on city streets and private driveways in Coral Gables, Fla., will likely be decided by voters in November.
City commissioners in Coral Gables have tentatively agreed to place of the referendum on the ballot, The Miami Herald reported. They will meet next month to hash out the final language for a vote in November.
The city ordinance, which has been around since 1960, prohibits trucks, trailers, commercial vehicles and recreational vehicles from parking on city streets or other public places from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The law, when it was first conceived, was intended for commercial trucks and to preserve the affluent city's character and aesthetics.
The city's Planning and Zoning Board had recommended several changes in the ordinance to the commission, such as allowing noncommercial pickups to park in private driveways as long as the bed is covered and the truck is backed in. Parking on city streets would still be prohibited.
The commission voted last week to let the public decide.
"This law has been misunderstood since it came on the books," commission member Maria Anderson told msnbc.com. "We allow Hummers and dilapidated vehicles, but not trucks."
If noncommercial trucks are allowed to park in driveways, another issue would be to define which pickups are considered commercial and which ones are not.
"A Ford F-150 is obviously a noncommercial vehicle," commission member Frank C. Quesada told msnbc.com. "We just don't want the large, overbearing monster trucks."
The law has had its share of detractors. In 2003 Lowell Kuvin sued the city after he was cited for parking his Ford F-150 on a residential street. The law was upheld in 2011 when the Florida Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
Commission member Rafael Cabrera Jr., who favors the ordinance, said the changes recommended by the city zoning board were not good modifications and would harm the city's appearance.
"It's totally aesthetic," Cabrera told msnbc.com. "We're known for our strict zoning laws. People forget that you can put it (a pickup truck) away in your garage."
Residents on both sides want the commission to vote on the issue instead of placing it on a ballot, but so far the commissioners haven't been able to come to an agreement.
"I believe the public process has been had. There's been ample opportunity for the public to weigh in," Anderson said. "This is just a way of passing the buck."
Ari Victoriano collected more than 2,000 signatures to get the ordinance changed. She said she was upset with Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason for pushing for a referendum.
“I’m perplexed and confused,” she told The Herald. “For a whole year they shepherded us and counseled us and told us what we needed to do, and we did everything and he bailed on us. It’s all political. It came down to fear, no courage.”
Quesada, who supports changes in the ordinance, said that it keeps the city's character intact.
"It's a community standards issue," he said. "People move to Coral Gables because they love the character, they love the aesthetics."
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